Work-life balance is one of the most overused and elusive concepts in work. This phrase has been around for 40 years now, and has evolved into a catch-all phrase for recruiters to instantly upgrade their job postings. If you go by the definition on the internet, I’ll forgive you for thinking you can only work between 9 AM to 6 PM to have work-life balance. While there are no issues at all with trying to compartmentalise work and personal life, you have to be careful not to hold impossible expectations. Demotivation, depression and burnout often develop due to inaccurate ideas of balance, and these are not conducive at all to personal fulfilment. To save you from that, here are five lies you need to stop believing about work-life balance.
Most people try to decrease their hours at the office when they want to implement the order in their work and home life. This is a short-term solution that won’t do much for your work-life symmetry in the long run. There are many factors that affect balance, and the number of hours you work per week is just a small indicator. There are as many unhappy part-time workers as there are full-time employees. Focusing your attention single-mindedly on the number of hours you work will cause you to neglect your family priorities, stress management and goal setting.
There is not enough time in the day for you to achieve 100% in all areas of your life. If you go for happy hours with your colleagues, you will miss dinner with your family. Failing to recognise and accept this will put you in a constant struggle against something that you can’t change: the amount of time you have. Instead, take a holistic view of your work and personal commitments. Accept that there will be times when work spills into personal life and vice versa, and you should not get overly frustrated when it happens.
At different stages of your career, balance will look different to you. For example, if you are fighting for a promotion, you are less likely to mind spending 60 hours per week. This might not be true for a family man with a newborn, who doesn’t mind grinding throughout the workday without breaks just so he can head back home on time. Your priorities will determine what feels balanced to you, so don’t spend hours looking for the “right” solution on the internet. No one can tell you how to manage your time because no one else gets your life the way you do.
“You’ll get it when you’re in my shoes.” How many of you have heard your boss say this? It’s almost cliche at this point. Everyone has to manage their work and life, regardless of their position. Just because you’re a boss doesn’t mean you get to automatically have the best of both worlds. In fact, because of the added responsibilities and expectations, it might become more challenging. Your commitment at work is not just to yourself, but to everyone else in your team too. If you’re in this position, make sure to set clear objectives for yourself. Identify your boundaries, and stick to them.
Lie #5: You’re the only one
One thing is for certain — everyone struggles with work-life balance. There are always complicating factors regardless of how well set-up your work might be. Having a perfect work-life balance is a complex progress that never ends. This is because your life’s needs are constantly changing, and you will need to restructure to maintain equilibrium. You don’t have to feel alone, nor are you doing anything horribly wrong if you feel overwhelmed at times. Know that it is normal, and readjust according to your current situation.