I love my job. It keeps me going. It helps me feel good about myself. It is part of who I am as a person. So I spend hours on it. It does not look like work to me. However I constantly keep thinking about it. My family hardly sees me. Even when I am present with them, I am mentally absent. How do I continue to be dedicated to my job yet take the time to disconnect and experience life? ~ CXO, Startup
The world has moved from work-life balance to work-life integration.
However some of us are still in the journey towards the perfect balance.
For some of us, this becomes a forever journey.
What comes in the way of achieving this balance?
Most of us get asked about our passions. It seems like a good thing to have. When we are passionate about the work we do, we work no other day the purists say. Interestingly, we still spend time doing the work. The not so talked about the dark side of passion is it blinds the person to self-inflicted problems till a point that you can't ignore it.
The person who you are and the work you are doing have 2 different identities. You will continue to exist if the work gets done. You will continue to exist even if the work didn't get done. Tying one's self-worth to what one does creates a mistaken notion of oneness and there is no separation between the person and their work.
While all of us like to live purposeful lives and create impact, the way we do it is also important.
For some of us work carries higher priority over ourselves and our family. This is but a mistaken notion.
We are replaceable at work but not at home.
Most of us realise it at an intellectual level but not internalise it. This leads to wrong prioritisation and leads to imbalance.
What can accelerate our journey towards balance?
Dedication to the person who you like to be:
If you are working on work life balance because your family needs you - there are a lots of "musts" and "should" in what you think you should be doing. There is no internal motivation. Think about the kind of person who you would like to be remembered as and work on a balance that is suitable for you. Your balance need not look like somebody else's. But it needs to be sustainable for you and those around you.
2. Building effective boundaries and containers/ Detachment
If you find every aspect of your life always overlapping and does not give your mind rest - its time to build some boundaries and containerise them.
Build in start stop rituals to give your unconscious mind a way to know something is over and something else starts.
For eg, in most cultures, "freshening up", "Prayer", "Play" are all these cushions that build the difference between multiple aspects of our life. If you don't have any, build a ritual yourself. Eg, keep your laptop and phone in a different room when you play with your children.
3. Role based scheduling
There are various roles that each of us play - employee, child, parent, etc. Each role has something important to accomplish in a week/day.
Stephen Covey in his book, 7 habits of highly effective people talks about role based scheduling.
On a weekly basis, identify the most important task that is accomplished for a role and put that on the calendar first.
4. Energy & Attention
Optimising your energy & focus not only helps you find the balance but also keeps you in good health.
Invest in maintaining your body, mind, spirit & community.
This will help you be present and be available to life as it happens.
Where your attention flows, your energy flows.
Your ability to keep focus helps to balance your energy.
Pay attention to your energy and bring energy to your attention.
What would you do differently to balance/integrate work with life?