Work-life balance is “a situation in which one divides or balances one’s time between work and activities outside of work” (Dictionary.com).
The work-life balance is often seen as a zero-sum game, where work and life are completely separate domains that are competing for time and energy. Alternatively, the concept of “work-life harmony” visualizes work and life roles as being interconnected and dependent on each other, rather than separate and in competition.
Most articles on work-life balance never ask the purpose of what we are striving to balance for- what’s the goal? They also rarely articulate what the “good life” looks like.There is an Aristotelian concept called “eudaemonia”. It is not just a happy or balanced life but a good life, one lived for worthy purposes and, uplifting to others. Some questions to consider: Is your job/career/work fulfilling? What is your purpose on earth? Are you working/doing what you were created or “meant” to do?
On a personal note, my struggle with work-life harmony over the years has included various work schedules to create balance in my life including:
the traditional 40 hour work week,
telework/working from home,
field work (visiting client’s homes/hospitals),
PRN/on-call/casual employee work (setting my own work schedule 6 weeks in advance, as needed, or whenever crises with clients arise), and
Flexible or “flex” scheduled work (4 day work week).
However, even with variations in work schedules, I still find myself struggling with work-life balancing decisions. I have made some accommodations intertwining my work-life into my calendar/to-do list and try my best to inform my place of work of the next personal goal that I am striving toward (many companies applaud personal growth and want to know your personal goals, especially the goals that will help you better perform at work).
So how do we achieve this coveted work-life harmony, more often? At some point we have to choose between the demands of work and our personal lives but how do we align these various personal/professional roles (spouse/partner, parent/grandparent, family member, friend, employee,etc.) with fulfillment of our purpose? What usually drives my work-life decisions are my values, priorities and deadlines (work projects or important family events). What does my mind, body, spirit/soul need at this time and in this season? What will bring the most value for myself or the other person-(whether personally or professionally)? Can I rearrange my work hours? Do I have the time off or can someone switch work shifts? Can I work overtime? Can I recoup these hours/income? Am I making time for my personal and professional goals? Do I feel off balance? Does this align with fulfillment of my purpose in life/what I was created or “meant” to do?
This week check-in with yourself and ask what do I need more of/less of? More work or more personal/life/family/friends/
non-working time? Be sure to spend quality time with yourself and others and to be present (not on your cellphone,distracted). Give them/yourself 100% attention.
Visualize what the “good life” looks like for you. Create a visionboard of what the “good life” looks like for you. What does it look like, smell like, taste like, feel like, sound like?
Dr. Ngonzi Truth Crushshon, Psy.D. is a license-eligible clinical psychologist, professor, and best-selling author. She has written for the Huffington Post and various local magazines on mental health and self-care. www.faithhopelovecommunity.com