The Virtual Medicine Website gives this definition of “Work-Life Balance”:
"Work-Life balance refers to an individual’s ability to balance the commitments, responsibilities and goals relating to their paid work (e.g. working hours, expected outputs of the job, career advancement), with personal commitments, responsibilities and desires (e.g. parenting, recreational activities, community commitments, further education). Individuals who maintain a healthy balance between work and life achieve a sense of wellbeing and feel that they not only have control over their working life (e.g. by being able to determine when and how much they work), but also to lead a rich and fulfilling personal life”.
So, how do you know if you have achieved balance, or not?
The Canadian Mental Health Association have devised a quiz to help you determine whether or not you have:
1. I feel like I have little or no control over my work life. 0 1
2. I regularly enjoy hobbies or interests outside of work. 1 0
3. I feel guilty because I can’t make time for everything. 0 1
4. I often feel anxious because of what is happening at work. 0 1
5. I usually have enough time to spend with my loved ones. 1 0
6. When I’m at home, I feel relaxed and comfortable. 1 0
7. I have time to do something just for me every week. 1 0
8. On most days, I feel overwhelmed and over-committed. 0 1
9. I rarely lose my temper at work. 1 0
10. I never use all my allotted vacation days. 0 1
What Your Score Means:
0 to 3: Your life is out of balance, you need to make significant changes to find your equilibrium.
4 to 6: You’re keeping things under control – but only barely. Now is the time to take action.
7 to 10: You’re on the right track! You’ve been able to achieve work-life balance – now, make sure you protect it.
I read an article entitled “The Six Components of Work – Life Balance by Jeff Davidson, MBA, CMC, Executive Director -- Breathing Space® Institute and these are some of the points he made, that can help to achieve that balance:
1) Self-Management - the recognition that effectively using the spaces in our lives is vital, and that available resources, time, and life are finite. It means becoming captain of our own ship; no one is coming to steer for us.
2) Time Management - making optimal use of your day and the supporting resources that can be summoned – you keep pace when your resources match your challenges. It entails knowing what you do best and when, and assembling the appropriate tools to accomplish specific tasks.
3) Stress Management - In the face of increasing complexity, stress on the individual is inevitable. More people, distractions, and noise require each of us to become adept at maintaining tranquility and working ourselves out of pressure-filled situations. Most forms of multi-tasking ultimately increase our stress, versus focusing on one thing at a time.
4) Change Management - Continually adopting new methods and re-adapting others is vital to a successful career and a happy home life. Effective change management involves making periodic and concerted efforts to ensure that the volume and rate of change at work and at home does not overwhelm or defeat you.
5) Technology Management - Ensuring that technology serves you, rather than rules you.
6) Leisure Management - The most overlooked of the work-life balance supporting disciplines, leisure management acknowledges the importance of rest and relaxation- that one can’t short-change leisure, and that “time off” is a vital component of the human experience.
No doubt, having a “work-life balance” is not only desirable, but essential for healthy living.
However, unfortunately, I have seen examples where people have taken things to an extreme and have not acted responsibly when it comes to achieving this particular goal and this can have detrimental consequences.
My wife, Sue and I were at a conference, England, where I had given the keynote and spoken about all my fundraising initiatives e.g. running 250 marathons, in one year, climbing Kilimanjaro in 21 hours, cycling the length of Africa etc. when a lady came up and proceeded to berate Sue on the fact that she was “allowing “ me to do all of these things and it had sent out the wrong message to her husband, with whom she was in constant conflict because he worked “ dawn ‘til dusk” during the week and then she and the children barely saw him at the weekends because he was “ always training for one triathlon or another”.
Sue was able to politely explain that, yes, I had, at times, done some extreme events, but she had often accompanied me, taken part in some and besides, had her own interests to pursue, when I was off doing my own thing. Also, we are business partners, working from home, so we spend most of our time together. Another point is that, unlike her family, our children are independent adults. I only took up running and biking at the age of 47, so they had already left home.
It’s not a matter of her “allowing” me to do these events, but supporting me, because she knows I always do them in aid of a good cause. In the weeks and months when I’m not training, I just go for a couple of short runs and a swimming session each week and Sue and I will often do them together.
My point is that this husband had not been responsible when trying to obtain what he viewed as a work-life balance. He was not achieving balance at all, but merely taking the two aspects of his life to extremes. This is where I think it’s so important to consider whether you have truly achieved a ”balance” and whether your actions are appropriate, according to your situation.
As Eileen Caddy, Author, once said "Live and work but do not forget to play, to have fun in life and really enjoy it".