Over the years, anyone interested in career development
or the modern workplace has no doubt read countless articles on work-life
balance. Some articles say you absolutely need it. Others claim it's impossible
to achieve. So which is it?
Recently, I came across an article on work-life balance
that used the imagery of scales. On one side of the scale is work, the other side,
personal life. The author argued that balance, those moments where both sides are
equally in sync, could be achieved but that moments of equilibrium are
fleeting. Most of the time, life and its demands move the scales up and down as
the challenges and demands of the day force the scales apart.
This image provides a useful lens through which to view
the competing demands of work and personal life: while balance is a goal,
sometimes achieved, perfect equilibrium is rare and its absence should not be
cause for distress or hand-wringing.
Rather, our focus should be on filling each side of the
scale with experiences and skills that respect the duality of our everyday.
Fill the work scale by continually adding new abilities and experiences, by
cultivating a robust professional network and by treating inevitable setbacks
and disappointments as growth opportunities.
On the personal side, work to fill up the scale with
similar elements; strong interpersonal networks of friends, family and faith will
support you just as surely as a robust professional network advances a career. Develop
your life skills and interests as you do professional skills. Take up a new
sport, challenge yourself to learn a foreign language or run a marathon.
Perhaps it's as simple as finding a creative outlet in cooking imaginative
meals for dinner. Cultivate a glass-is-half-full outlook for processing life's
Without doubt, there will be days when the demands of
work (pressure cooker projects, stymied promotions, even layoffs) or life
(death, divorce, depression) will cause the scales to swing wildly. But most
movements will be smaller and more subtle, a frenzied work day or a weekend
schedule jam packed with sports events. The smaller, slighter swings are easy
to manage and balance.
If a tough work day depletes your energy and swings the
scales apart, seek to redress the balance by adding an evening exercise class
or a night spent with a good book instead of a stack of bills. Likewise,
balance a week of days cut short at the office to tend sick kids, with a catch-up
week where your customary lunch workouts are instead spent digging out from
Perfect balance isn't the goal, near balance is the
target. And when near enough is good enough; you can hit the target every time.
It is possible. You have to determine, what's important will determine your life-style. Is your state of mind, state of peace important than money, career? Let money rule or let peace rule?
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Beyond FoldersTM is written by a team of Pendaflex associates
passionate about time management, communications, productivity and workplace organization. Believing in "continuous improvement" on both a personal and professional level, they share their unique perspectives on subjects of common interest to our readers.