“How do you balance work and personal life?” It doesn’t matter who gets asked this question, but whether we address it to ourselves. And if so, what can we do to produce a valid answer? Well, first of all, how do you define a valid answer? Secondly, how do you define balance?
Even distribution. A state of equality. That’s how some dictionaries define “balance”. In the context of personal and work life, this definition implies that these two components should weigh the same. But that’s not what balance means. The importance we place on the various elements of our lives is entirely up to us and should not be imposed by external factors. Plus, the distinction between work and personal is more often than not created artificially, when in fact work should be a continuation (if not the manifestation) of personal passions.
Moreover, the problem that people are trying to dissect by wrapping it in this concept of “work-life balance” is a bit more abstract: how can you properly disconnect from a stress factor, be it psychological or emotional? To draw a parallel here, let’s take the bleed phenomenon that appears in role-players. Basically, both the emotional and physical state of a player can bleed from the individual’s primary identity into the alterego, and the other way around. The imbalance, let’s say, appears when said individual can no longer manage this intertwining of roles, thus creating a confusing mix of experiences and feelings. In essence, balance comes when one is able to juggle the multitude of roles that need to be taken in life.
Therefore, to begin with, define your own concept of work-life balance. Whatever language you use, words will most likely fail to describe what balance means to you. Whether it’s equality, equilibrium, stability, or something else entirely, the notion is for you to interpret and formulate. What you could try to do is outline the feeling that the harmonious intertwining of the two portions of existence brings, and focus all your efforts towards achieving that.
While personal life is a complex and sensitive issue that is too wide a subject to be discussed in this article, we can jot down some pointers useful for determining the level of balance at any workplace. Basically, there are three signs that you’re struggling to find balance at your current job: the relationship you have with yourself, with others, and with the environment. Here’s what you should pay attention to if you’d like to know whether you’ve found work that works for you.
1. If you feel that your work is not valuable and it is not a part of a bigger picture, you might be doing the wrong job. We’ve talked a lot about the most recent trend in employee benefits – a sense of purpose. This is paramount to making the office a pleasant, meaningful space to contribute, rather than just a place for the daily to and fro. There are also a lot of methods to help others find meaning at work.
2. A good, promising job should always present itself with growth opportunity. When you find yourself in a rut, doing redundant work that can be automated or that has taught you everything it could, it might be time to move on to the next thing. If you don’t see the next step for you inside the company or the department, that could be your cue for switching to something else.
3. The work environment is fragile or downright unhealthy. To be capable to develop, people need more than just the opportunity. They need to be able to rely on their physical and mental attributes; to do this, their work medium should support their well-being. Whether it’s too hot and humid at the office, or too loud and crowded, these can be signs that the work setting does not agree with you, and so you’ll not be able to perform.
When it comes to mental health, the most obvious red flag is if you feel disconnected from other people. If you feel that you cannot be yourself entirely, and you have to uphold a certain image that does not represent you, you might be in the wrong crowd. We’re not saying to drop all manners or ignore social norms, just search for the people willing to accept your principles and quirkiness.
As a conclusion, remember to always define your own criteria for happy, healthy living. The recipes for success that are out there forget to take into consideration one crucial thing: every life is made from different ingredients.