Work-Life Balance – Reality or Myth?

How often have you heard people talking about work-life balance and have you wondered whether this can in fact be a reality or is it but a myth? The dictionary defines the word balance as “a situation in which different elements are equal or in the correct proportions.”

Looking at this definition it would be fair to wonder whether there is a point at which there is a balance between work, i.e. the time and the challenges this creates while simultaneously having an equal personal (family, friends, hobbies) and spiritual life (religion, meditation, self).  Perhaps accepting that “balance“ is an unrealistic expectation is the first starting point, and it would be more appropriate to describe the aim to achieve a state of “harmony”.  Harmony has a different meaning to each person and if the aim is to achieve “work-life harmony”, then perhaps the task will not be as daunting.

Oprah Winfrey has said, “you can have it all, but not all at once.”

What to Do to Find Harmony? 

It is well known that the challenges of executive management come with much stress. The more money, the more problems arise.  On the one hand, having to meet the deliverables of the organisation brings much anxiety, on the other, one is concerned over the wellbeing of their family. The conundrum this creates has a significant impact on performance and also on personal, physical and mental health; this can make the work-life goal become a vague, unachievable desire.

It is just as well-known a fact that it can be hard to switch off. Emails, cell phones, news and social media, key performance indicators, and meetings (on and offline), besides the demands of the persons in charge are just some of the factors that executives in modern businesses have to contend with.

Moreover, since 2020, the Covid 19 pandemic means that working patterns have changed significantly. The office is now at home so spending an unreasonable amount of time in front of the computer is a strong temptation.

We used to get into a car and drive to work; now it is a case of walking into the next room (probably with your morning slippers still on) and starting to work. The compartmentalisation of different aspects of life is thus becoming more and more blurred; making this work-life balance more and more difficult

How to Achieve More Harmony?

To achieve some harmony, it is critical for one to ask themselves questions such as:

  1. Is it essential that I do this, or is there somebody in the company whom I could delegate this task to?
  2. Be it on or offline – do I need to attend all the meetings I am invited to?
  3. Can I take an hour to have lunch with my child instead of eating in front of the computer?
  4. Do I have regular dates with my spouse or partner?
  5. Not neglecting my work and family – how can I add my sleep, exercise, and ‘me’ time in a way that can positively impact both my mental and physical well-being?
  6. Have I shared with my family, friends and even colleagues when I will be available online?

Sensibly and pragmatically asking and answering these types of questions will often result in looking at things differently and consequently doing things another way. ultimately assisting you to move closer to achieving “work-life harmony. It is worth a try!

Les Weiss is International Executive Coach and Co-Founder of Change Partners Coaching. The company is celebrating 25th Anniversary in March 2023 and pioneering of executive coaching in South Africa since 1998. Should you wish to explore how Change Partners can assist in increasing your organisation’s leadership bench strength; contact Les Weiss at Change Partners Coaching:

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