Ah, the elusive "work life balance."
Sounds like a fairy-tale that we might not ever achieve. Work life balance sounds like this concept that you have to find the perfect 50/50 balance between work and life, as if the two should be totally separate, or as if we should enjoy work but only enjoy our time out of work. Yes, millennials have been classified as stressed out workaholics (well, we kind of are) and we have a hard time ‘balancing’ or harmoniously integrating work with our other pursuits in life. I would like to introduce to you a new (or not so new) term: work life harmony and work life integration.
Work life harmony is the idea that you can arrange your life in such a way that you’re not always trying to achieve the perfect balancing act. Even if you use ‘work life balance’ it’s not the end of the world; however, the word harmony comes off as this less forced, more flowy concept (to me at least). Nevertheless, we all aim for that one big goal- a meaningful existence where work doesn’t consume our lives yet we find a sustainable connection with our work that doesn’t burn us out. I just like to use work life integration and work life harmony interchangeably. However you say it, here is some insight as to what this beautiful concept looks like:
Identify your priorities
To live our lives with full consciousness and a life out of intent, we must decide what our priorities are. Taking into account the type of work you do, how involved you have to be, your job/career satisfaction, and how much you DESIRE to be involved in your work. In the same regard, take into account your life outside of your work- how much time is involved dedicating to your family and friends? How much time do you want to dedicate to them or your own hobbies and interests?
Focus on being well-rounded
In order to live a life that we look forward to each and every day, you must be mindful of your identified priorities and what steps you can take to live a more integrated, harmonious life. In many regards, quality trumps quantity. Instead of spreading yourself too thin in trying to take on new relationships, hobbies, interests, jobs, etc.- focus on going deeper, not wider. Take on your work with more passion if it means something to you. Learn to say NO to the things that do not inspire you or bring you happiness. Don’t feel obligated to commit to everything that comes up. You will find that although it may be hard at first, it feels like a million pounds lifted from your chest when you say no to something that doesn’t serve you and start to focus more on the quality things in your life. This will make you a better person which will in turn help you to positively face the world with more energy.
Prioritize your work experience
Do you find yourself working in a toxic environment? Do you find that your co-workers just don’t share your same values and beliefs? Are you surrounded by co-workers that are perpetuating negativity, gossiping, and creating unnecessary drama? Or perhaps you are striving to make healthier choices but the work environment is filled with not the best choices- donuts, sitting for hours at a time, etc. Whatever it may be, is there something you can do to lessen the time spent with co-workers (say no to lunch?) or change your interactions (promote friendliness over gossiping). If you find that the environment is harming you physically, emotionally, and mentally, maybe it is time to consider changing positions within your company if possible or leaving altogether to prioritize working with people that lift you up and inspire you.
Turn frustrations into opportunities
We may see everything happening to us or at us- for example, we’re always stuck at that annoying red light on our way to work, we have to take some work home, your kids get sick, you fight with your spouse- every day life inconveniences. How do you turn these misfortunes to work in your favor?
Turn that long bus/train/car ride to work into a growing time; listen to a podcast or audio book. Bond with your spouse after an argument- maybe this argument gave you insight into having a solidified date night to spend more uninterrupted time together. Had to take some work home? Listen to classical music while you’re working and follow the 42/18 rule (work 42 minutes, rest for 18). Life will just be so much more pleasant when you learn to just face what is and turn moments into beautiful opportunities.