With Gallup reporting that the average work week is closing in around 47 hours – almost a full work day more than a five day work week in terms of time – it brings up the ever present question of work-life balance. And let’s face it, it’s true that a balanced life includes more than just work. But what I want to address in this post is the sense of discontent inherent in the question of work-life balance. There is this belief that a clear dividing line is necessary to achieve a healthy and happy life, one that is not tilted in favor of work.
Perhaps there is a way to reframe this question though, a way to think of this inequity differently. The reason we are seeking balance is because it is assumed that the ‘life’ portion of our days are where the enjoyment comes from, where we find happiness. What if, instead of trying in vain to create this visible dividing line, that we endeavor to bring more life into our work? This may sound difficult, especially if you’re reading this while unhappily stuffed in a cubicle doing work that doesn’t necessarily thrill you, but bear with me. What I mean is that we should look for the bright spots in our work, times when we achieve a state of flow, and try to increase their frequency.
Figure out what you’re best at, and try to shape your job role in such a way that you get more of it. In most cases your boss will recognize your skill in this area and assign you more of a particular type of work if you ask. Also, try giving back. It’s been shown time-after-time in surveys how much giving back makes us feel good about ourselves. Try it on the job. If you’ve developed some Excel template that would make life easier for your Accountant co-workers, share it. At my last employer, I often got the most satisfaction out of sharing technology tips and tricks with my fellow employees and this was one of the contributing factors in my promotion from the Customer Success team to Product Manager, where I spent much more of my work time on things I actually enjoyed.
So the next time you are faced with the work-life balance question, choose both.
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