No, but only if we realise what matters most to us, and keep a space for those things in our lives.
Work life balance involves carefully combining your work and home lives to achieve satisfaction in both. It means enjoying and achieving things at work, with family, with friends and by yourself.
Over 15 years ago, I was writing my thesis for my MSc in Human Resource Management. This focussed on the question of whether a good work-life balance was possible in a manufacturing environment. I came to the conclusion that it was rather difficult to achieve in that specific scenario, where people were contracted to rotating shift patterns and irregular overtime requirements.
Since then, the world of work has moved on. There is an increasing diversification of employment sectors and greater opportunities for flexible working. I would now say, often, it depends on an individual mindset as to whether balance can be created. Balance can depend on a variety of factors. It can depend on whether you are married or single, if you have children, if you want to change career or start a new business, or if you are close to retirement.
Much workplace stress seems to be due to the need for speed as a result of the ‘digital revolution’. The technologies of liberation have become the technologies of enslavement. They were supposed to save us time, but mean we have no time for ourselves. The line between work and life is blurring, and we are on a conveyor belt which encourages us to accept the new norm. Living a balanced life becomes the impossible dream.
SO WHAT TO DO?
Creating balance to work and life takes self-awareness and bravery. In his book, “In Search of Balance: Keys to a Stable Life,” Richard Swenson suggests the following:
Learn to decline with gratitude: Check your goals. Only say ‘yes’ out of genuine interest.
Defend boundaries: Having clarity around our core priorities gives us the courage needed to defend our boundaries.
Have several gears: There are times when we need to shift gears into ‘neutral’ in order to be mindful, which can lead to better decisions and healthier relationships.
Obey the speed limit: When you are going ‘too fast’, you are likely to break down.
Seek solitude: Find time to ‘unplug and disconnect’ in order to remember your priorities.
Maximise our energy: Energy, not time, is the main part of high performance.
Take care of yourself: Our body is a system, and we have to take care of maintenance if we want to use it properly. Get enough sleep, nutrition and exercise.
Cherish the home: We each have some type of family in broad terms – people who care about our wellbeing. “The family, traditionally, is the great shock absorber of society… The shock absorber itself has been shocked.”
If you know of someone who could benefit from guidance about their work-life balance, then please contact me.