Work-life — it’s not really about balance

A tweet headline today triggered the memory of a discussion I had with a colleague over the weekend about the notion of ‘work-life balance’.

My colleague is of the mind that this concept was purposefully made to sound nebulous, and precisely because it’s a myth. “Work-life balance is just corporate jargon that conveniently sweeps the more stark issues being endured by the overworked and underappreciated,” she pipes on.

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She has a point. About the concept being made-up. I mean, you work within your lifetime. But working is part of living, so in theory it’s a subset activity. And one where calling to balance it with one’s life sounds a bit ridiculous.

And yet,  the reality is that there are thousands out there having  a tough time dealing with stressful workloads and toxic environments.  What if you’ve so caught up living up to this mythical balancing act that you can’t even exhale a second thought?

Here are some possible scenarios, which I have personally experienced and which may help remind you that if you ‘don’t get it right’  it won’t kill you.

Yep. It really is them, not you.
Going through extremely stressful modes of existence on a daily basis is typically a cumulative behavioural cycle. You notice early symptoms but ignore them with blinders because you’re so hell bent on ‘overcoming  the challenge’.

But your brain does have a fuse. And when it blows, that entire Type-A-can-do generator goes down with it. Seasoned professionals will undoubtedly have had some direct or indirect experience of this ‘hitting a wall’ moment. Invariably, you start to admit that external factors may in fact be causing you stress or exacerbating your stress management threshold.

Your talent is powered by your attitude.
Speaking with a professional counselor or therapist may sound like a dire step. But most health practitioners would agree that treatment of the psyche is an often overlooked stress prevention method.

How good you are at what you do is deeply connected to how optimally sound your emotional and intellectual states are. If you start noticing more negative and/or passive-aggressive tendencies: red flags.

There are always options.
So you’re probably wondering: where is the brilliant bulleted bundle, right? When is he gonna start listing tips n tricks. Er .. well, actually this post is more an exercise in keeping your reasoning abilities sharp and alert.

We all deal with stress differently. Most of us don’t even
recognize we’re stressed. But when we do, at least we know that there are always options. You may feel like you’ve exhausted every avenue and failed attempting to overcome the insurmountable, but you musn’t forget how hard you tried. Really stressed out people are blind to this very important point.

It’s a job. Not the sum of your life.
This thought requires little elaboration. But at the end of the day (my friend who thinks work-life balance is a myth can’t stand that expression), a job is indeed a subset activity of life. It is part of what living is about but it should never have to define the value and memory of what your life is about.

There is always a need to balance how much energy we accumulate, store and exert. This principle applies to many things. So stop getting fixated on balance. And start questioning where you really want to be at this moment, and how you envision allotting your effort.

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