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Last Updated on September 4, 2019

How to Achieve a Realistic Work Life Balance

How to Achieve a Realistic 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.

The Mystery of Work Life Balance

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.

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How to Achieve a Realistic Work Life Balance

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:

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      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.

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        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:

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          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 for yourself!

          More About Work Life Balance

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          Leon Ho

          Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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          Last Updated on October 16, 2019

          Invaluable Lessons You Can Learn From Your Mistakes

          Invaluable Lessons You Can Learn From Your Mistakes

          Do you like making mistakes?

          I certainly don’t.

          Making mistakes is inevitable. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could be at ease with them?

          Perhaps there is a way to think of them differently and see their benefits.

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          Why Mistakes Feel Dangerous

          Mistakes often feel dangerous. Throughout human history, our errors have often been treated as dangerous for a variety of reasons:

          • Our vulnerability. We have limited and fragile support systems. When those systems fail, people often lose their lives.
          • Real dangers. Nature can be dangerous, and making mistakes can put us at the mercy of nature and its animal residents seeking a meal.
          • Ignorance. Many cultures scapegoats someone whenever there is a failure of some kind. Scapegoating can be serious and deadly.
          • Order. Many societies punish those who do not conform to the prevailing orthodoxy and treat difference and non-conformity as a mistake. Even our brains flash an error message whenever we go against prevailing social norms.

          We have a history of handling mistakes and failure in an unpleasant way. Since each of us carries our human history with us, it can be a challenge to overcome the fear of making mistakes.

          If we can embrace the reality of mistakes, we can free ourselves to be more creative in our lives and dig up some interesting insights.

          Why We Can’t Avoid Making Mistakes

          Many people operate under the notion that making mistakes is an aberration, a mistake if you will. You can call it perfectionism but it is a more substantial problem. It is really a demand for order and continuity.

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          When we think we can eliminate mistakes, we are often working from a perspective that sees the world as a fixed place. The world, however, is not so obliging. Like it or not, the world, and everything in it, is constantly changing.

          Change is more constant and pervasive than we can see with our own eyes which is why we often miss it. Our bodies are constantly changing. The natural conditions of the earth change constantly as well. Everything, including economic and cultural systems have life cycles. Everything is in a constant state of flux.

          We cannot see all of the changes going on around us since rates of change vary. Unfortunately, when we try to create a feeling of certainty and solidity in our lives or operate from the illusion of stability and order, we are fighting reality and our natural evolution which is built on adapting to change.

          It is better to continually bend into this reality rather than fight every change we experience. Fighting it can cause us to make more mistakes. Finding the benefits in change can be useful and help us minimize unnecessary mistakes.

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          Lessons Learned from Making Mistakes

          Life has so many uncertainties and variables that mistakes are inevitable. Fortunately, there are many things you can learn from making mistakes.

          Here is a list of ways to harness the mistakes you make for your benefit.

          1. Point us to something we did not know.
          2. Reveal a nuance we missed.
          3. Deepen our knowledge.
          4. Tell us something about our skill levels.
          5. Help us see what matters and what does not.
          6. Inform us more about our values.
          7. Teach us more about others.
          8. Let us recognize changing circumstances.
          9. Show us when someone else has changed.
          10. Keep us connected to what works and what doesn’t work.
          11. Remind us of our humanity.
          12. Spur us to want to better work which helps us all.
          13. Promote compassion for ourselves and others.
          14. Teach us to value forgiveness.
          15. Help us to pace ourselves better.
          16. Invite us to better choices.
          17. Can teach us how to experiment.
          18. Can reveal a new insight.
          19. Can suggest new options we had not considered.
          20. Can serve as a warning.
          21. Show us hidden fault lines in our lives which can lead us to more productive arrangements.
          22. Point out structural problems in our lives.
          23. Prompt us to learn more about ourselves.
          24. Remind us how we are like others.
          25. Make us more humble.
          26. Help us rectify injustices in our lives.
          27. Show us where to create more balance in our lives.
          28. Tell us when the time to move on has occurred.
          29. Reveal where our passion is and where it is not.
          30. Expose our true feelings.
          31. Bring out problems in a relationship.
          32. Can be a red flag for our misjudgments.
          33. Point us in a more creative direction.
          34. Show us when we are not listening.
          35. Wake us up to our authentic selves.
          36. Can create distance with someone else.
          37. Slow us down when we need to.
          38. Can hasten change.
          39. Reveal our blind spots.
          40. Are the invisible made visible.

          Reframe Reality to Handle Mistakes More Easily

          The secret to handling mistakes is to:

          • Expect them as part of the process of growth and development.
          • Have an experimental mindset.
          • Think in evolutional rather than fixed terms.

          When we accept change as the natural structure of the world, our vulnerability and humanness lets us work with the ebb and flow of life.

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          When we recognize the inevitability of mistakes as part of the ongoing experiment which life is, then we can relax more. In doing so we may make fewer of them.

          It also helps to keep in mind that trial and error is an organic natural way of living. It is how we have evolved over time. It is better to be with our natural evolution than to fight it and make life harder.

          When we adopt an evolutional mindset and see ourselves as part of the ongoing human experiment, we can appreciate that all that has been built up over time which includes the many mistakes our ancestors have made over thousands of years. Each one of us today is a part of that human tradition of learning and experimenting,

          Mistakes are part of the trial and error, experimental nature of life. The more you adopt the experimental, evolutional frame, the easier it becomes to handle mistakes.

          Handling mistakes well can help you relax and enjoy all aspects of life more.

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          Featured photo credit: Sarah Kilian via unsplash.com

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