Aim for Work-Life Harmony, not Work-Life Balance
In today’s fast-paced, always-connected world, finding a healthy balance between work and the rest of your life is more important than ever. That’s why the phrase “work-life balance” is frequently used, and for most people, it simply means being able to juggle our jobs with other essential aspects of our lives. Now the question is, do we want to juggle things or focus on “work-life harmony,” i.e., draw energy from all the things we do at work and home so we are happy and giving back?
Work-life balance is a fallacy
The expression work-life balance pitches our work and lives as opposing forces, which couldn’t be further from the truth. To me, “work-life balance” cues compromise and compartmentalization, which can adversely impact either.
When we try to achieve work-life balance, we often end up feeling like we’re being pulled in two different directions. We feel guilty when we’re working because we’re not spending time with our families or loved ones, and we feel guilty when we’re at home because we’re not working. This guilt can lead to anxiety, stress, and resentment.
Strive for Harmony, not Balance
So how about changing the way we think about work and life? Instead of seeing them as two separate entities, we need to start viewing them as two parts of a whole. When we do this, we realize they can enrich each other. This is “work-life harmony” where these two entities do not conflict with each other but feed on energy generated from each other.
Work-life balance suggests that these two areas of our lives contradict each other. We must carefully juggle our time and energy between the two to avoid tipping the scales too far in one direction or the other. On the other hand, work-life harmony sees these two areas as complementary. Rather than being in conflict, they can feed off of each other to create a more well-rounded life.
Time and energy are two critical aspects of our life. Do we have enough time to do what we want to do? Do we have enough energy to do things the way we want to do them?
Time is finite for everyone; however, energy doesn’t need to be.
As Jeff Bezos had once said, ‘if you feel energized at work, are adding value and happy doing that, it makes you better at home. It makes you a better spouse and a better parent. And likewise, if you are happy and energized at home, it makes you a better team person, leader and energized at work.’
Instead of a see-saw, we need to think of work and the rest of our life as a flywheel. The more we invest in one, the more momentum it builds, and that momentum starts working for us.
Why is Work-Life Harmony important?
There are several reasons why striving for a state of work-life harmony is so important.
First and foremost, it’s essential for your mental health. Finding a good symmetry between work and the rest of your life makes you less likely to experience burnout or anxiety.
Additionally, achieving work-life harmony can make you more productive both at work and in your personal life. When you’re not constantly worrying about one area or the other, you can focus more fully on whatever task is at hand.
Lastly, achieving work-life harmony can improve your relationships at work and home. When you’re not letting your work stress spill over into your personal life, you can be more present and engaged with those around you.
How to Achieve Work-Life Harmony
Although it may seem elusive, there are concrete steps you can take to achieve work-life harmony. Below are some tips that should help:
1. Find your ‘Why?’
Define what is important to you and what you’re striving to achieve. And while you do this, think of life as a whole.
What do you want to achieve in your personal life? What’s important to you outside of work?
Once you clearly understand your motives, it will be easier to maintain perspective and make choices that align with your goals.
If it helps, articulate and write them down and refer to them when you need guidance. This will help you stay motivated and focused when things get tough.
2. Ensure that the work aligns with your values.
Do what you love and love what you do! But this can only happen if the job or profession you are into aligns with your values.
Your values are what define you as a person. They are the things that you believe in and hold dear to your heart. And when you’re working, it’s essential that the organization you work for shares these values with you.
Otherwise, you’ll end up feeling like a sellout, working day in and day out for a company that doesn’t really care about the same things that you do.
So, before you take on any new job, ask yourself if the company’s values align with yours. If they’re not, then it’s probably not worth your time and energy. But if they are, then go ahead and give it your all!
3. Immerse yourself in the present
When you truly embrace the possibility of harmony, you will understand that drawing boundaries between your work and the rest of your life is unnecessary. You need to immerse yourself in the moment you are living and be present for the task at hand, which requires ownership and commitment. If you constantly think about the artificial boundaries you have set for yourself, it will only hinder your productivity.
One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received: “Wherever you are, be there.”
The key is to be in the moment and focus on the task at hand. This way, you can give 100% to whatever you do and not worry about anything else. Once you have completed the job, you can move on to the next thing on your list.
4. Make time for yourself.
It’s important to schedule time for activities that bring you joy outside of work. Whether it’s taking a yoga class or going for a hike, make sure to schedule time for activities that reduce stress and make you happy.
5. Create a support network
Work-life harmony is not an experiment in the silo. Identify individuals in your personal and professional life who will support you as you strive to achieve this goal. These people can provide advice, feedback, and encouragement when you need it the most.
And don’t forget to return the favor! Be supportive of others in their pursuits of work-life harmony as well.
Work-Life Harmony is Worth Striving For
We all know the importance of maintaining a healthy balance between work and personal life. But what if there was a way to enhance our lives through our work? To have a job that was so fulfilling that it didn’t feel like “work” at all? That’s what work-life harmony is all about—and it’s something worth striving for.
Achieving work-life harmony is essential for a happy and productive life. It’s crucial for your mental health, productivity, and relationships.
If you’re struggling to find a balance between work and the rest of your life, try thinking about it in terms of harmony instead of balance. You might just find it makes all the difference.