Advertising
Advertising

The Mystery of Work Life Balance

The Mystery of Work Life Balance

Kate is a hard-working manager working at a startup company.  She toils at work but gets that nagging feeling that she’s missing out on living her life. And then perversely, when she’s not working, she tries to switch off ‘work-mode’ to enjoy her passions, friends, family… but eventually she finds that she just doesn’t have the energy.

Many people are like Kate, misunderstanding the true meaning of work life balance. They try to keep ‘work’ and ‘life’ separate, but this brings undesirable results.

Where the Curse of Work Life Balance Begins

Those who are trying to maintain a work life balance only by dividing their time – by driving a sharp wedge between work-mode and life-mode – are inadvertently dividing themselves.

When people juxtapose ‘work’ and ‘life’, they unconsciously think in terms of ‘work’ versus ‘life’ – and are constantly forced to choose one at the expense of the other.  In this framework, a gain on one side is always a loss on the other side.

And so people start to see ‘work’ as the times when they are not living their lives. ‘Work’ is seen as a necessary evil that they must suffer through until it’s time to switch off. But if you encode everything related to work as negativity and suffering, while your ‘life’ strains under the weight of unrealistic expectations of enjoyment, there really is no balance there at all.

Re-balancing work and life is possible by seeking out a new and enjoyable job to a certain extent. But no job is perfect. There are always going to be tedious aspects to any job. And before long you’ll wind up on the same ‘life’ versus ‘work’ see-saw because you haven’t changed the old framework.

Advertising

The Only Way to Break the Curse

The true goal is to redistribute the positive (+) and negative (-) evenly across life.

Most people try to make it all positive off work to compensate the negativity at work like this:

    If it’s all negative at work and all positive when the work mode is switched off, the work performance will suffer – creating even more negativity. People will lean heavily on their off-mode life for happiness, but they can’t truly achieve happiness because they are not facing the problems at work.

    Conversely, there are those who do strive to put positivity into their work life. Their work life balance looks like this:

    Advertising

      Unfortunately, if these people are still stuck in the old on/off framework, all the negativity will shift to their off-mode self, and their relationships and health will suffer.

      Very few lucky people experience positivity on both sides of the equation, their work life balance looks like this:

        If you are one of those who experience positivity in both sides, lucky you! You are one of the less than 5% of the population.

        For the rest of the 95% of the population, here is a cure to having a realistic work life balance.

        The solution is to recover the sense of a unified self. When you do, you’ll dismantle the competing work/life binary, and you’ll stop unconsciously labelling work as ‘suffering’ and life as ‘enjoyment’. Positive energy will begin to flow smoothly and effortlessly through your life.

        Advertising

        To recover the sense of a unified self, ask yourself: Why do I really do what I do, in life and in work?

        Your answer to this question make up your blueprint of a unified self, charged with meaning that relates directly to who you are and what you care about.

        Use your blueprint now to examine your life at work, your leisure time and your relationships and see if they align with each other. The new framework is no longer ‘balance’, but ‘alignment’.

        This will reveal to you a number of things:

        • There are aspects of your work that are not suffering: Look again and you’ll find many positive aspects that reflect what you care about. For example, you may value creativity, and realize that you get the opportunity to show it at work every day.
        • Things you care about at ‘work’ are the same as what you care about in your ‘life’: For example, you may value friendship in your life, and you also practice this value with your colleagues. Your values exist in all your interactions, and serve your unified self.
        • What you do at work and what you do in your life support and enhance each other: For example, the same generosity you show your friends can forge good client relationships when practiced at work. Your resourcefulness at work can be used to solve obstacles in your personal life.

        Crucially, you never need to use the on/off work model again because you’re constantly acting in accordance with what you truly value. As a result, you’ll find that your positive energy will not be subject to draining or overflowing, off/on, but will instead flow consistently through all your states of being in a perpetual positive feedback loop.

        This is how a realistic work life balance is like:

        Advertising

          A Life Without the Distressing Curse

          Your renewed conceptualisation from ‘balance’ to ‘alignment’ is an inner transformation that can empower you whatever your current circumstances are.

          For example, it may reveal that you truly are suffering in your current job. But now you can unroll your blueprint to identify the cause of the negativity (i.e. what isn’t aligning with what you value?) and either remind yourself why you’re really doing what you’re doing, or make a tweak… or indeed change your job.

          Even if the latter, you can still be sustained by positivity until you find that new job. You may hate your everyday tasks, but one of things you value is to be a good provider for your family – so you’re spurred on, knowing that you’re doing that every day.

          Or if you’re a workaholic, your blueprint may reveal that what you previously undervalued as ‘off-mode’ (relaxing, having fun, pursuing a passion, spending time with family and friends) actually contain a wealth of values that support – and even enhance – a well-rounded working life.

          A value-rich and optimally tuned work life alignment helps maintain a flow of positive energy and happiness in all aspects of being. So go ahead and make the blueprint of you.

          More by this author

          Leon Ho

          Founder & CEO of Lifehack

          The Importance of Time Management: 8 Ways It Matters The Lifehack Show Episode 5: Taking Learning to the Next Level The Lifehack Show Episode 4: Succeeding at Business as a Woman Entrepreneur The Lifehack Show Episode 3: Why Validation is Key to Lasting Relationships The Lifehack Show Episode 2: Making the Most of the Limited Time We Have

          Trending in Restore Energy

          1 13 Work Life Balance Tips for a Happy and Productive Life 2 How to Spot Job Burnout and Cope with It 3 Having Trouble Sleeping? 9 Quick Fixes to Help You Sleep Tonight 4 15 Tips for an Overwhelmed Working Mom to Feel Better 5 How to Deal with Feelings of Burnout at Work

          Read Next

          Advertising
          Advertising
          Advertising

          Last Updated on August 20, 2019

          26 Useful Things to Learn Now That Will Change Your Life

          26 Useful Things to Learn Now That Will Change Your Life

          If you pay attention to your everyday life careful enough, you’ll know that you can learn from everything and everyone you come across. Our life is basically full of useful lessons that we should learn.

          Here are 26 useful things to learn that Abhishek A. Singh shared on Quora. Let’s see how these life theories would lead you to live a different life.

          1. Primacy and recency: People mostly remember the first and last things that occurred, barely the middle.

          When scheduling an interview, ask the employer the time slots they do interviews and try to be the first or the last.

          2. If you work in a bar or in customer service of any kind, put a mirror behind you at the counter.

          In this way, angry customers who approach you will have to see themselves in the mirror behind you and the chance of them behaving irrationally will be lowered significantly.

          3. Once you make a sales pitch, don’t say anything else.

          This works in sales, but it can also be applied in other ways.

          My previous boss was training me and just gave me pointers. I was working at a gym trying to sell memberships. He told me that once I got all the small talk out of the way and presented the prices, the first person to talk would lose.

          It didn’t seem like a big deal but it actually worked. Often there were long periods of awkward silence as the person tried to come up with some excuses, but usually they bought.

          4. If you ask someone a question and they only partially answer, just wait.

          If you stay silent and keep eye contact, they will usually continue to talk.

          5. Chew gum when you’re approaching a situation that would make you nervous, like public speaking or bungee jumping.

          When we eat, our brain tell ourselves, “I would not be eating if I were danger. So I’m not in danger.” This has helped me to stay calm.

          Advertising

          6. People will always remember how you made them feel, not what you said.

          Also, most people like talking about themselves; so ask lots of questions about them.

          7. When you’re learning something new, teach it to a friend. Let them ask you questions about it.

          If you’re able to teach something well, you will be sure that you’ve understood it very well.

          8. If you get yourself to be really happy and excited to see other people, they will react the same to you.

          It doesn’t always happen the first time, but it will definitely happen the next time.

          9. The physical effects of stress — breathing rate and heart rate — are almost identical to the physical effects of courage.

          When you’re feeling stressed in any situations, immediately reframe it : Your body is getting ready to be courageous, you are NOT stressed.

          10. Pay attention to people’s feet.

          If you approach two people in the middle of a conversation, and they only turn their torsos and not their feet, they don’t want you to join in the conversation.

          Similarly, if you are in a conversation with a coworker who you think is paying attention to you and their torso is turned towards you but their feet are facing in another direction, they want the conversation to end.

          11. Confidence is more important than knowledge.

          Don’t be intimidated by anyone, everyone is playing a role and wearing a mask.

          12. If you pretend to be something for long enough, you will eventually become it.

          Fake it till you make it. Period.

          13. Not to be creepy, but if you want to stare at someone unashamedly, look directly past them and wait for them to try and meet your eyes.

          When they fail to do that, they’ll look around (usually nervously for a second) they won’t look at you again for some time. This is your chance to straight up stare at this person for at least 45 seconds.

          Advertising

          And as suggested by Brian Stutzman:

          If you’re staring at someone and get caught, DON’T turn your head or your body to look away, because that just confirms that you were staring.

          Just move your EYEBALLS off the person. Unlike turning your head, it’s instantaneous. And the person will think you were just looking at something behind them and that they were mistaken for thinking you were staring. Do it confidently, and ignore any reaction from the person, and you can sell it every single time.

          After a second, you can even look back at them with a “Why are you staring at me?” look on your face to really cement the deal!

          14. Build a network.

          Become the information source, and let the information be yours. Even grabbing a beer with a former colleague once a year will keep you in the loop at the old office.

          Former coworkers might have gotten a new position in that office you always wanted to work in, great! Go to them for a beer, and ask about the office. It’s all about connections and information.

          15. If you are angry at the person in front of you driving like a grandmother…

          Pretend it is your grandmother, it will significantly reduce your road rage.

          main-qimg-17c6060ba5491ad5af817faf5046a13b

            16. Stand up straight.

            No slouching, hands out of pockets, and head held up high. It’s not just a cliche — you literally feel better and people around you feel more confident in you.

            Advertising

            17. Avoid saying “I think,” and “I believe” unless absolutely necessary.

            These are phrases that do not evoke confidence, and will literally do you no good.

            18. When feeling anxious, clean up your home or work space.

            You will feel happier and more accomplished than before.

            main-qimg-a0187fc57b3d874f251bd06c388991dd

              19. Always buy the first pitcher or round of drinks.

              You’d be surprised how long you could drink on the phrase “I bought the first one.”

              20. Going into an interview… be interested in your interviewers.

              If you focus on learning about them, you’ll seem to be more interesting and dynamic. (Again, people love to talk about themselves.)

              21. Pay attention parents! Always give your kid a choice that makes them think they are in control.

              For instance, when I want my son to put his shoes on I will say ,”do you want to put your star wars shoes on or your shark shoes on?”

              Pro-tip: In some cases, this works on adults.

              main-qimg-0dc201c56efe2beb49b842205f253dfb

                22. Your action affects your attitude more than your attitude affects your action.

                As my former teacher said “You can jump and dance FOR joy, but you can also jump and dance yourself joyful.”

                Advertising

                23. When a group of people laugh, people will instinctively look at the person they feel closest to in that group.

                Notice who you look at and who look at you when you laugh with a group of people!

                24. If you want to build rapport or gain someone’s trust quickly, match their body posture and position.

                If someone is sitting with her legs crossed, cross your legs. If they’re leaning away from you, lean away from them. If they’re leaning towards you, lean towards them.

                Mirroring and matching body position is a subconscious way to tell if someone trusts you or is comfortable with you. If you’re sitting with your arms crossed and you notice someone else is sitting with her arms crossed, that is a good indicator that you have/are successfully built/building rapport with that person.

                25. The Benjamin Franklin Effect (suggested by Matt Miller)

                I find the basis of the Benjamin Franklin effect is very useful and extends far beyond pencil borrowing. This knowledge is useful in the world of flirting too.

                Asking a girl in your class if you can borrow a pencil or her notes or to explain the homework will make her more likely to like you than if you let her borrow your stuff or are the one to help her. Even just asking a girl to buy you drinks (facetiously) leaves a much bigger impression than offering to or actually buying a girl a drink.

                The best part is it kills 3 birds with one stone: you get the advantages of the favor itself, the person subconsciously likes you more, and it makes them more open to future favors and conversation.

                26. Handle panic and anxiety behaviors by tapping fingers (Suggested by Jade Barbee)

                When you’re feeling stressed, worried or angry, tap each finger tip while thinking (or speaking quietly) a few specific words about what is bothering you. Repeat the same words while tapping each of your 10 fingers, including thumbs.

                For example, tap while saying, “I’m so angry with her…” Doing so will likely take the charge out of the feeling and return you to a more resourceful (better feeling) state of being. It’s called EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) or “tapping,” and it is useful in many life situations – emotional sadness, physical pain, food cravings, traumatic memories…

                Featured photo credit: Nicole Wolf via unsplash.com

                Read Next