“Life Balance scares me,” said a client in a coaching session. Her facial expressions depicted a look of worry and fear of “the unknown.” When asked to try to define what this “Balance” meant to her, she responded that despite her efforts to understand it and read about it in different sources, she was confused and was afraid to apply it again because it did not work for her in the past. This dialogue with the client raised this concern about the possibility of others having similar issues regarding their work life balance. Therefore, the first thing to investigate further this concern was to conduct a survey to get the feedback of people about this balance. The purpose is to highlight some critical elements that will help to establish the integration between work and life.
From the analysis of the survey, we have concluded that there are four critical aspects to the notion of Work-life balance: fulfillment, energy, time management and mindfulness.
Fulfillment means meeting one’s life purpose and potential, and pursuing the passion and the work that respects one’s values and beliefs. This does not have to be only driven by pure ambitions and dreams, but also from a realistic centered clarity of purpose. Fulfillment cannot be limited solely to someone’s personal achievements, but it has to be about how one can fulfill his/her purpose with greater contributions to family, society, country and humankind. Without fulfillment, one experiences a sense of imbalance and possibly failure leading to increased sense of anxiety, frustration and disappointment of what has not been achieved in both worlds.
The balance is not between work and life; instead it is a balance between one’s energy levels within both worlds. Everyday, one has a tank full of energy to utilize in few hours or to spend it wisely between what one wants to achieve at work and in life. One also has to be aware of which aspects of work and life contribute to enhance the energy tank. There must be passions and rewards from both worlds to generate more energy to continuously fill up the tank. On the other hand, there are aspects of work and life that unnecessarily deplete one’s energy levels, for example bad work politics and abusive life relationships. In those situations, one has to be wise enough to identify them and minimize the energy depletion.
In order to reach the desired balance, the survey reveals time management as an essential contributor. Indeed, respondents need time management in order to preserve their energy, and enhance their fulfillment in life and work. While time management includes allocating time to the right task at the right time, it also includes setting one’s priorities, and being aligned in work and life. Time management has many benefits and advantages for example reducing stress, relation management, and improved performance. It is essential that one explores the benefit from better time management and its effect from the lack of it.
The last aspect of that balance is mindfulness, by living the moment and being fully mindful in both worlds. It is about being 100% present with one’s heart, mind, and soul during what matters the most, both at work and life. It is that sense of self-awareness and environmental awareness, being aware of people around oneself and of the impact of the words and actions on everyone in their surroundings. It is also about being budgeting one’s time, energy, emotions and focus at work and in life. In every setting, one asks self how “my” being could positively impact everybody around “me”.
We believe that each one of us is unique and therefore has a singular sense of balance between both worlds. While one integrates the different elements that constitute his/her life, ultimately, creating a unique harmony proper to oneself.
From our perspective, we prefer to use a terminology other than work life balance. Balance suggests that life and work are dissociated from one another while in reality they are complementary and integrated into one another. Our research, readings, and reflections led us to identify with the terminology of “harmony”, and “integration” of work and life. While the person spends the day integrating the different elements of his/her life, the inner purpose is to find harmony and fulfillment in his/her endeavors. It is up to each person to apply the terminology that is most meaningful and take ownership of both worlds.
We hope this article has raised the reader’s interest on this matter and we will be glad to receive anyone’s feedback. In the meantime, a series of articles on work life matters will follow. Stay attuned.
Rita Farah, Professional Coach & Shermeen Zeidan, Certified Master Coach
“Life happens as you work and work happens as you live.”