WORK-LIFE BALANCE: A MILLENNIAL WOMAN’S GUIDE- PATRICIA ADERIBIGBE



What is work/life balance?

Firstly, it is important to try to understand the concept of work-life- balance.

Generally, balance occurs when there is an equal distribution of weight or amount. Therefore, work life balance can mean equal weight on ‘both’ sides, which in turn implies that work is on one side while life is on another.

For most, this is often about the desire to spend less time ‘working’, in order to create more time for ‘living’. So, what is the right balance?
  
8:8:8:  8hours work; 8hours life; 8hours sleep (Yes humans still need sleep). Remember Teddy Pendergrass’s ‘50:50 love’ kind of thing.


 
Time tilted towards work –i.e. work has eaten into life or The opposite – i.e. a lot more time on your hands to live life.


This is from the perspective of Time

However, there is also a Psychological dimension to balance.  This is about the stability of body and mind. Before exploring this further, let’s take a quick step back in time.

‘Work’ -  back then
Once upon a time, workers had no business connecting with work until they were physically present, and employers did not expect much more either. Henry Ford purportedly wondered: “why is it every time I ask for a pair of hands, they come with a brain attached?”

Also, while at work, life stopped – No phone calls, No 24hours news flashes, No social media, No WhatsApp, FB, or Snap (must sound like a horror movie to all digital natives).  ‘Life’ began when work ended and vice versa.   A very clear solid line!

Fast Forward to today - The Age of Acceleration
Work-life dynamics today is totally different. The mobile phone in your hand is where you live and living comprises: work, play, learning, entertainment, giving - to your favorite charities. All of these are location agnostic.

So, work can now be done while living life, and life can be lived while working.

In this age of acceleration, can we still afford to continue thinking in compartments? Seems a bit anachronistic to me – i.e. applying 20th century thinking in a 21st century context.    

Paradigm Shift
A paradigm shift in attitude is required to change the narrative and avoid our story ending in “and she lived unhappily ever after”.

1. For a start, work is part of life – in which case, it need not be placed into its own distinct compartment.

2. Balance need not be seen just in terms of Time, there is also psychological balance which takes into account the four dimensions of human needs: Physical (body), Mental (mind), Social (heart) and Soul (spiritual).


3.The attributes needed for both work and life are blurring. Take emotional intelligence – this used to be a no, no in a macho corporate world – seen as ‘soft’ stuff reserved for family and friends. Everyone knows better now. It works like magic at work!

Given the above, there are somee questions to ponder:
·      Can we still afford to think in terms of strict trade-offs?
·      Are we able to leave work at work and home at home?

Work-Life Harmony – The Jazz Band Approach
Perhaps it is time to embrace the concept of Work Life Harmony.

Please don’t get me wrong! We all still need to unwind.  By all means, take a holiday, grab ‘me’ times, get some sound sleep, socialize with friends, spend time on family matters & of course, don’t forget your meditative time (spirituality). Absolutely! Must, Must, Must!

However, should these be in separate compartments with solid walls?
Definitely not!

The quest should be how to achieve horizontal harmony in all aspects of life.  Just like the jazz band, - all the tunes of our different instruments should sound in harmony to create beautiful life melodies.

The search is now about how to tune the notes of our work and life into beautiful melodies, how to introduce new notes and weed out   notes that are now out of tune.  The focus being always on harmony.

So here are the choices:

Either we continue expending valuable energy trying to balance the un-balanceable and live unhappily ever after, like the Tragicomedy in which two characters spent their lives waiting for Godot who never turned up (Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett).

Or
We embrace work-life harmony. This involves enjoying the journey knowing that the journey can be as thrilling [or even more so] than the destination [often unknown].  Every moment should count.

Think of the Japanese concept of living in the moment (ichigo, ichie).  An understanding that every gathering is unique, and cannot occur again. That way, everyone appreciates it fully and participates with true sincerity. This is what is meant by "one time, one meeting”.

Epilogue
 1. Do what you love. 

 2. If you cannot do what you love, learn to love what you do

3. If neither applies - recipe for unhappiness. So quit and start again.

4. We are all jugglers. In juggling, some balls will drop at some point. Be ready for this.

5. All balls are not equal at all times – a critical one today may be less so tomorrow. Therefore, spend time to decipher your critical ball(s) at any given time and keep an eye on them.

6. Find a third place – we all need one. It is that place that is nearly as comfortable as home and work but gives you breathing and thinking space. You may find this in the workplace or your home. But find it anyway.


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About Okorie, M.Chidi

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