Is your life mostly work and little play? Is your free time devoted to other people’s fun rather than your own? Instead of making things easier, has technology made your life busier?
If you answered “yes” to any or all of the questions above, chances are your work-life balance needs some fine tuning. This may sound daunting but here’s some good news: you’re not alone; working culture is slowly changing for the better; and there are simple strategies you can implement now for a more balanced life.
Work-life balance and work
Mothers might have pioneered work-life balance as they entered the workforce in the last three decades. But these days it’s open to everyone: people caring for aging parents, people with children, or people who want to pursue goals outside of work.
Here in Singapore, the government regards itself as a cheerleader of work-life balance policies, seeing them as a way to combat the declining birth-rate. Increasingly, organisations are offering flexi-time, telecommuting and compressed hours. In today’s competitive global market, some companies use work-life balance policies to attract and retain talent.
Work-life balance and life
Work-life balance isn’t only about human resource policies. Work-life balance challenges us to think about how we, individually, manage our lives. Whether we like it or not, we are the masters of our own universe. Only we can create the lives we want.
Try to remember what you wanted when your dreams were big and everything seemed possible. Feeling balanced means not losing sight of what’s important to us. It means setting achievable goals that are aligned with our values, interests and talents. Dreams, a wise woman once said, are goals with deadlines.
While it’s good to consider the macro perspective, it’s also about the simple things. That’s the whole idea behind the small change principle, which claims that the best way to change a system is to make a small change that will ripple through the entire system – the way a tiny pebble can create waves across a large pond.
It might be something as simple as taking 15 minutes out for a quiet coffee in a charming café. How about trying to get more sleep? There’s a simple idea that can have a profound effect on your day.
We might not be able to make drastic changes in our life, but we can change our mindset. Stress, for instance, is blamed for all sorts of health problems. Did you know that stress can be positive? Without it, we lack interest and under-perform. Think of stress as a friend who can push you to succeed, but you have to be careful because this friend will seize control if you let him.
Maybe that’s the secret to leading a balanced life: don’t let anything or anyone live your life for you. So, go sleep for eight hours, dream of a perfect world, and wake up smelling roses, or whatever it is that makes you smile.
Training Consultant, Professional Development Centre
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