If you ask me, work-life balance is not a skill we are necessarily born with. It’s not even a skill we develop naturally over our professional years as the result of experience and wisdom that comes with age. Work-life balance is a skill that needs to be taught and practiced over and over again until one can safely say s/he’s finally mastered it.
We live in the era of full exposure to millions of information on a daily basis, our decisions and behaviors are the product of a combination of what society expects from us, what our friends and family think of us, what our boss requires from us and, if there is some time and space left, what we want for us. Filtering the voices inside and outside our heads is not an easy thing to do, no matter how trivial it may sound. Every choice comes with a consequence and figuring out what balance truly means for us can be a bumpy ride full of surprises, self-doubt and misconceptions.
Attending an in-depth work-life balance workshop can be eye-opening and give you all the tools you need to do your own research and get a deeper understanding of how to achieve your own personal work-life balance free from both external and internal distractions. One has rarely the chance to attend one such workshop, let alone two! Well, lucky me, I attended two in one week!
Being on a personal journey to learn more about work-life balance in the modern workplace I had the chance to participate in two work-life workshops last week. The first was carried out in Bratislava by Mrs Daniela Bartos, the Founder of Hip Academy who is currently writing a book on the future of skills and work. The second was carried out in Vienna by Mrs Elena Padurariu, Psychotherapist and Coach specializing in work-related problems including burnout, anxiety and work-life balance.
Both workshops were insightful, motivating, educative and delivered in such a pleasant climate. Besides the learning material and the useful exercises provided, they also intrigued me to dig deeper in the topic. My after-workshop thoughts can be summarized as follows:
- Work-life balance is more about self-awareness than it is about prioritizing
I come from a place where I perceived the whole concept of self-awareness to be nothing more than a trend adding up to the already widespread trends of yoga and meditation. Little did I know back then of the tremendous impact all three concepts could have on a person’s well-being. As I grow older, I increasingly realize the benefits of self-awareness when you train your mind to be present and you start living life outside of your head, as I sometimes like to remind myself.
Work-life balance is a very personal thing, there are no rules and no rights or wrongs. Prioritizing without being self-aware will never lead to sustainable results. A conscious choice of our priorities along with a deep understanding of how our biological clock works and what our on-off times are can build up our confidence and reveal the real way we want to design our lives in the long-run.
Following the advice of Mrs Daniela Bartos, one very important step towards mastering self-awareness is being crystal clear on our life values and staying true to them no matter the circumstances. While it might seem as a simple task, reflecting on our values on a daily basis can be challenging but it’s what will make the difference. Keeping a journal might actually do the trick!
Balance is the key to everything. What we do, think, say, eat, feel, they all require awareness, and through this awareness we can grow.
– Koi Fresco
- Work-life balance is not an individual case
While achieving work-life balance through mastering self-awareness does sound rather adequate, there are still too many extraneous factors that need to be considered in real life. As per Mrs Elena Padurariu, environment, organizations and individuals are interrelated when it comes to work-life balance. Political and socioeconomic events can fundamentally affect the organisational design which, in turn, have a direct impact on the employee.
Therefore, we, as individuals, are equally responsible for our work-life balance as are the companies and the society as a total. It doesn’t matter if you aim for work-life balance or for work-life blending, all involved parties are responsible for the outcome. Moral of the story: let the change start with us individually and then wait for the message to spread upwards. If we are lucky enough, the more self-aware we all become, the more balanced every aspect of our life will get.