Traditionally, we view reaching a good work-life balance as hitting a goal. But it may be more of a moving target than we realise. Few topics have been so endlessly analysed, glorified, and dissected as work-life balance.
The quest to attain this somewhat nebulous state has dominated discourse around careers for years – especially for working parents. The concept is often presented as something to achieve, or a goal to reach. And once you’ve reached it, congratulations: you’ve made it. You’re a successful human being of the 21st Century.
Work-life balance is “a cycle, not an achievement.” It is one that may be more of a lifelong process. A continuous, never-ending exercise that requires vigilance, self-awareness, and timely tweaks.
For anyone on this journey, it is important to have an awareness of your own emotional state. This is to enable you to determine the changes that you want to make in your work and in your life. And this is not about looking for a simple formula of divvying up the hours in your day; putting in eight hours’ worth of work, and eight hours’ worth of me time. Including space for family, chores, hobbies, gym, workout, meditation, and everything else.
This is because even if you do make sure the hours are evenly split, you may not achieve the desired purpose if the underlying emotional sources of stress are still there. This may lead to a situation whereby the time you actually spend at home or in other non-work activities may not be enjoyable.
Perhaps, if it seems like finding that perfect work-life balance remains elusive for you, the experts say that keeping some perspective can help. First, remember that we’re in an era of catastrophic job loss. The pandemic alone has slashed 255 million jobs worldwide. In addition to that, more jobs could be lost in the next decade as AI advances and more offices digitise. For millions of people, work is about being able to put food on the table. Talking about work-life balance is a very privileged conversation. And pursuing reaching a good work-life balance as an achievement may be out of place. If we’re reflecting, maybe we should also reflect on that.