For years I’ve been told that I should take care of my work-life balance. Well-meaning friends and family would give me all sorts of advices. It pushed me to find ways to “manage” my time to fit more into my day. I failed time and again.
After much reflection, I figured what it is that bothers me about work-life balance as a concept and my own solution to the “problem”.
You see, work-life balance is unachievable. It is imaginary and subjective. It makes people judge others and themselves. As a result, people feel bad for no real reason.
First of all, what is the standard? Eight hours of sleep, eight hours of work, one hour of exercise, two hours to commute, an hour to read, three meals, social activity once a week, vacation once a year? Is that the schedule that fulfills you, that will make you happy?
What if you’re single? Married with children? Without children? What if you’re a single parent? What are the rules for each? Is there a difference for men and women?
Work is part of life. It should not compete with it. It’s not like you have to choose between them. You’re not supposed to sacrifice one for the other. By the same token, it should not be the only thing in life either.
How each person prioritizes his daily activities is a personal choice. If what works for one person doesn’t work for the next, why do we compare their lifestyles?
Then, there is the matter of passion. Is it a good idea to curb it? I cannot imagine Walt Disney, Marie Curie, Nelson Mandela, Mother Theresa, and so many other notable personalities worrying about how they spent their time. In order to achieve greatness, to get the job done, to make a difference, you have to dedicate time and effort to realize your dreams. Period.
Of course, the concept has positive intentions. It is especially important that companies have the conversation to ensure the well-being of their employees. It has a lot to do with corporate culture. That is a discussion for another time.
I don’t dare say I have it all figured out. But, I have gained insight on what does work for me.
In my twenties, a colleague said to me, “You have really good chi.”
Chi is vital energy. A person’s life force. An idea similar to prana in Hinduism.
Yes, I tend to work a lot. It’s never difficult when I’m having fun. One day, I felt my energy level drop. I don’t mean just feeling tired. That is easily fixed with sleeping. It is hard to describe. It’s like energy was blocked and I couldn’t move it freely at will. That is when I realized I was overdoing it. The realization led me to some soul-searching.
This is my answer. Instead of fretting over your outlook schedule, take care of your chi.
- Embrace who you are.
- Listen to your body and your feelings.
- Trust your inner wisdom. You own an internal compass. Let it be your guide.
- Go with your natural flow. If you lose focus on one task, take a break, move on to the next and come back to it later. If you are in the zone, continue enjoying it.
- Be present. The time is now. You give your best by being in the moment.
- Carry out tasks according to your circadian rhythm.
- Sleep, eat, exercise, work, play, socialize… in the doses that you need.
- Eat well. Food is medicine, or poison.
- Be flexible. Control only adds pressure over time.
- Don’t be too harsh on yourself. It doesn’t help you be better.
- Do what you love, love what you do.
- Let go of fear. It is the root cause of many problems.
- Find outlets for stress. The fight-flight response takes away energy from important functions.
- Support and be supported by your loved ones. No man is an island.
- Keep your chi flowing. Stay in harmony. You are already balanced.
The wise Confucius once said, “Wherever you go, go with all your heart.”
Don’t be limited by a made-up concept. Live life fully. This is my wish to you.