By Vivienne Liu
RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT SPECIALIST
Before we dive into discussing whether work-life balance is achievable in the working world, I think it would be helpful to first define the concept. Like many people, I previously had the misconception that having a work-life balance meant having enough hours outside of work to enjoy life—implying that work is the ultimate enemy of life’s enjoyment.
However, a quick search on Google tells me that I was completely wrong. Among other definitions, I particularly like how worklifebalance.com puts it—meaningful daily achievement and enjoyment in each of the four life quadrants: work, family, friends, and self.
Looking at it this way, work and life aren’t enemies fighting for my time anymore. Among other things, work is a part of life; and more importantly, it’s meant to be enjoyed. Keeping this in mind, I would like to share some tips to work towards the seemingly impossible yet most coveted work-life balance:
Focus on what energises you.
If we were honest with ourselves, no one loves every single part of their job. There are tasks we absolutely love and can’t wait to get our hands on, and there are those things that we keep on postponing or pushing down on our to-do lists. The key to stop seeing work as the necessary daily grind—a chore or merely a source of income for survival—is to keep your eyes on what energises you. Take some time to think through the most meaningful parts of your job and list down the things you absolutely enjoy doing as part of your work. When things get tough (or when you need to get the things you dread done), pull out this list and remind yourself of the other amazing things you’ll get to do after this dreaded task.
It's important that we know ourselves and our priorities. We all have the same quadrants of life (work, family, friends, and self), but the value we assign to each quadrant might differ vastly. While some of us find investing in self development most fulfilling, others might regard spending time with family as most satisfying; yet, others find fulfilment in work accomplishments or social life. No matter the values you place on each quadrant, the most important thing is that you know your priorities and make it a point to align the things you do with your priorities. If your top priority is family, make sure you plan your week such that you get to spend time with your loved ones. This is will not only minimise your feelings of being deprived of what you want but also energise you through work.
Give your 100 percent all the time.
While prioritising things according to the value we place on each quadrant of life is of utmost importance, we must not use it as an excuse to neglect the other quadrants. Just because I value my self quadrant more than my work quadrant doesn’t mean I have the license to put less effort into my work. Remember, it is about achievement and enjoyment in each of the four quadrants. This requires us to be fully present, giving our all in everything we do. As the ancient wisdom of the Bible says, “whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might (Ecclesiastes 9:10).” Only when we take ownership and give our very best in the things we do can we fully experience and enjoy them.
Do you have other tips to share when it comes to work-life balance? Please comment or write in to me at firstname.lastname@example.org!