Historically, the debate around our lives and our work has been limited to one phrase: work-life balance. The question today for most people in the corporate and entrepreneurship space is, “How do we maintain the balance between our personal lives and our work?”
Work-life balance is defined in an article on the HRZone website as, “the level of prioritisation between personal and professional activities in an individual’s life, and the level to which activities related to their job are present in the home.” The idea that a person’s work-life and personal life will not intermingle is unrealistic.
Kohl (2018), a contributor to Forbes Magazine explains that employers have been putting in a tremendous effort trying to determine the best way to appeal to millennial workers. With the millennial generation of workers projected to take up 75% of the workforce by 2025, many leaders think it’s time to redefine what work-life balance looks like. Work-life balance is an important aspect of a healthy work environment. Maintaining work-life balance helps reduce stress and helps prevent burnout in the workplace. Chronic stress is one of the most common health issues in the workplace. It can lead to physical consequences such as hypertension, digestive troubles, chronic aches and pains and heart problems. Chronic stress can also negatively impact mental health because it’s linked to a higher risk of depression, anxiety and insomnia.Too much stress over a long period of time leads to workplace burnout. Employees who work tons of overtime hours are at a high risk of burnout.
Another question you should ponder over is, “why are you so ‘busy’?” The reality remains that you have a personal life and a professional life which cannot be independent of each other. You simply cannot treat your family or social life and your work as separate entities. Michael Walters in a TEDx talk gave a very good example to drive home this reality. He asked, “If you lost your job today would it affect your life? If you lost a family member or a friend, would it affect your performance at work?” The answer to both questions is YES. What then can we do to live an all-round fulfilling life?
In recent times, due to the rise of technology and futuristic thinking, many variations of the idea of work-life balance have sprung up. Among them are two salient concepts: ‘work-life integration’ and ‘being present instead of being balanced’.
WORK-LIFE INTEGRATION CONCEPT
‘True’ balance will most likely never be found, but a harmony through work life integration is attainable. Work-life integration evolved from the concept of work-life balance. According to UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, work-life integration is “an approach that creates more synergies between all areas that define ‘life’: work, home/family, community, personal well-being, and health.”In embarking on a journey of a well-integrated life, we need to take an impartial and realistic approach. One of the practical sides of work-life integration is to blur the lines between work and home with mobility – allowing remote work benefits for employees. Another way that employers can help employees achieve better integration is to allow them some autonomy over their work schedules. According to research by CareerBuilder.com, 63% of employees believe the traditional “9 to 5” work model is outdated and prefer flexibility in their work schedule. This is particularly true for Millennials who are expected to comprise half of the workforce by 2020. However, there are several disadvantages to this model. Among them includes one stated by Cheng-Tozun in Inc Magazine. “There can be a slippery slope to work-life integration, especially for entrepreneurs. When your to-do list seems endless, you may be tempted to fill every nook and cranny of life with work without giving your health, community, and family the same level of prioritisation.”
Another model to consider is one discussed by Sara Cameron: an interesting concept of an integration of ‘Work, play and the white space’. “The white space is a blank space that allows any imagery of any type to complement each other rather than compete with each other.” What this looks like in your schedule is the availability of brief moments between your tasks that allow you to perform activities that complement each other. Also, at work, you do not necessarily need to do ‘hard work’ to get your job done. Success at work does not mean having to put in herculean efforts to make it work. Putting pressure on yourself can make you feel small. Many of us believe that if we are not hard on ourselves and always choose ‘hard work’, we cannot get things done. Have we thought of getting our work done with top notch quality but with an easier and smarter approach? Visualise the ideal life you want for yourself, be realistic about it, be aware of the little opportunities you can salvage to make a difference and start living the life you desire!
THE CONCEPT OF BEING PRESENT
My subjective belief is that it is more important to be present than to be balanced. The concept of being present means giving your full attention by showing up, not just physically, but mentally, emotionally and psychologically. You have to live the art of showing up where you are needed the most. At every point in time, your family will be displeased because you would have to miss a party or two due to work emergencies. On other days, your boss will be disappointed that you turned down an offer to work extra hours or embark on a project simply because at that very point, being present somewhere else was a necessity. The unwelcome and abrupt emergencies and situations will not give your perfectly laid out plan a chance. At every point in time, what is important is the decision you make in the moment.
One of the key things Brendon Burchard mentioned during his discussion on the 10 predictors of success was that as you head towards your high performing life, there will be opportunity costs. Opportunity costs are the losses we are faced with when we choose one alternative over another. For instance, our work could cost us our social lives or family engagements could cost us time at work. There is a principal need to raise necessity as a compass to veer you in the right direction when you have to make a choice of priority. Know the compelling ‘WHY’ for what you are deciding to do. What are the worthy values or achievements that can come about because of the choice you are about to make? As a necessity, you should be enlightened about the people who will be affected by the choice you make to be either present or absent in their moment of need. If you have 10 minutes to spend with your children, for instance, your full attention must be given to them. To be present in that moment is to put everything aside, including replying text messages and all activities that do not contribute to the little time you are spending with your children. If you cannot integrate, be present. However, all of these must be decisive, deliberate and intentional.
After taking a look at these three concepts to decide what works for you, take a look at the recommendations in the High-Performance model which are outlined below:
- SEEK CLARITY as to who you are (your identity), what you do and understand the structure of your family and your work before you start anything at all. Clarity is the quality or state of being clear. So, it is important that you understand the circumstances that are surrounding your life in order to select the best way to manage your life.
- RAISE NECESSITY as to why it is absolutely necessary for you to perform at your optimum so that you can identify which concept meets your needs i.e., the concept of being balanced, the concept of being present or the concept of work-life integration. Choose the one that is most needful and that best addresses your standing challenges. Your standing challenges may also be grouped into four factors as shared by Brendon Burchard: identity, obsession, duty, and urgency.Your necessity can be categorised under any of these so you can fully appreciate the concept you choose as a solution to achieve work-life balance.
- MAINTAIN YOUR MIND STRENGTH about the entire situation because no matter the capacity of our intentions, many situations will rise up. It is pertinent that we maintain our intentions to be able to overcome the situations. Your mind strength will enable you to stay in the zone, be focused and propel you to implement whichever concept you have chosen.
- MAKE YOUR IMPERFECTIONS PERFECT. The only thing that can help us jump the hurdle of imperfections would be the fact that we determine throughout our journey to make the best of our imperfections rather than try to be perfect. In all this, we would be the ones to question ourselves, “Did I do my best?” Continually and consciously answer this question as you consistently progress in your journey of life, love and labour.
Are you ready for TRANSFORMATION?
Dzigbordi K. Dosoo: The H.E.L.P. Coach
Dzigbordi K. Dosoo is a Soft Skills Expert, Personal Impact, Professional Growth and Influence Expert specializing in Humanness, Entrepreneurship, Leadership and Power – H.E.L.P.
A career spanning over two decades, she has established herself as a Certified High Performance Coach, Speaker, Author, Wellness Expert and award-winning Entrepreneur with a clientele ranging from C-Suite Executives, Senior Management, Practitioners and Sales Leaders spanning 3 continents.
She is the Soft Skills Expert and Founder of Dzigbordi K. Dosoo (DKD) Holdings; a premier lifestyle business group with brand subsidiaries that include Dzigbordi Consulting Group & Allure Africa.
Dzigbordi has been featured on CNN for her entrepreneurial expertise. She is one of the most decorated female entrepreneurs in Ghana having being named “CIMG Marketing Woman of the Year” in 2009; “Top 10 most respected CEOs in Ghana, 2012; Global Heart of Leadership Award and, Women Rising “100 Most Influential Ghanaian Women”, 2017.
She can be reached on [email protected] and @dzigbordikwaku across all social media platforms.