Work-life Balance: do we all want one?

Dr. Purushothaman
January 9, 2014


Work-life balance is very much an 'in' phrase and if you are like most people you would probably say you would like a better one.
But what do we mean by 'work-life balance' and do we really want one?
Generally work-life balance is taken to mean having a life made up of both work and non-work activities - we work to earn money to pay for those things that we need and want in life, and spend time on non-work activities to relax, recharge our batteries and do those things that we enjoy in our life, whether it is spending time with our family, exercising, socialising with friends, taking holidays, undertaking a hobby or spending quiet time alone.
The problem is that many people say they want a better work-life balance but ultimately choose not to have one. Why is this?
Firstly everyone has a different take on what their work-life balance is. Whilst it can be a useful exercise to rate yourself out of 10 in terms of how much time you spend exercising, developing relationships, developing yourself and building your finances etc. the truth is that a pre-determined template for a perfect work-life balance just doesn't fit all. You will have a different set of values (what is important to you) from the next person so whilst spending time exercising might be top of your list for relaxation, going out partying with friends just might not come into the equation.
Secondly many people have what they would consider to be a poor work-life balance because they have conflicting interests at play. For example if you are a mother you may on the one hand want to spend more time with your family but on the other feel you needs to work harder to provide for your family, particularly in an increasingly materialistic world.
So if you want a better work-life balance the key initially is to really understand what is important to you, and this sometimes can be difficult. I work with many entrepreneurs who seemingly have a terrible work-life balance, working all hours and never seeming to spend time at home. On the surface yes they are choosing to work all hours because they love doing what they do...nothing wrong with that. However, problems do arise though when they either burn out because they have neglected to spend time re-charging their batteries, have a heart attack because they have failed to cook healthy meals or taken exercise or they have lost their friends and family because these relationships were not seen as priority.
So if you are thinking of getting a better work-life balance there are a number of things you should consider:
1.Decide what is really important to you...think what you love doing in your life but also think about those things that are important to you that you take for granted.
2.List these top life priorities and score yourself out of 10 in terms of how satisfied you are with this area in your life.
3.Identify any that you consider to be low and think about what you want to do to improve that area of your life.
4.Take action...none of this is any good without action, but if your actions are based on what is really important to you then you are more likely to achieve what you want.

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