How do you do work/life balance?
Have you been asked this question during an interview?
Is that a trap?
Your future employer wants to know you are 100% committed to the job but also that you will not burn out after a year. Tricky right?
Any job in leadership positions, finance or anything global will require you more than a 9 to 5 presence.
So is “work/life balance” another form of corporate lip service? Is there a space to have life and care for yourself while meeting your career wants and obligations when the work code is evolving fast?
The need for redefinition: why the hashtag work/life balance falls short
One thing for sure, the way work-life balance is presented is at times an overly simplistic perception that cannot encapsulate the complexity of what it takes of 1/ personal commitment to have a thriving career while 2/ also building a life and identity for ourselves outside work.
First, because it’s unrealistic to think that once you have left the office, you are “free” to do as you please. As anyone in a leadership position knows, you carry the function and its obligations with you 24/7.
As cynical as it may sound, this is what you paid for. Emergencies and deadlines will not wait for you to be back at your desk.
Second, you also need to consider your second job: managing others. It’s difficult to check out when your team is struggling to solve a client’s problem. They look up to you for guidance and motivation.
Finally, personal integrity, accountability and high standards are likely part of your non-negotiables. Your reputation is your most important asset – dropping the ball is not an option.
So where does that leave you?
Work/life balance in the new economy?
Competition, productivity, recession, rapid advancements in AI, longer career spans, and evolving work models… will there be a space for anything outside the job?
The line between our work and personal lives is becoming increasingly blurred, making the old paradigm of balance obsolete.
The new vision of balance is not about compartmentalizing but about integrating diverse aspects of our professional and personal journeys into a harmonious whole.
So balance is now less about maintaining a 75/25 and more about navigating the diverse elements in our lives. It means that instead of viewing our personal and professional lives as opposing forces, we see them as two complementary aspects that together and synergetically can enrich our Being.
Let’s consider the new career models that have been emerging in the last few years.
First, we will likely not have one career but several. Secondly, this will also mean our professional life will fluctuate between periods of growth and times of retraction/introspection.
👉How can we use the career ebb and flow to our advantage?
Another reason why we need to get better at integrating those two aspects of our lives: with technological advances in AI, increased competition, and longer careers, our jobs will likely demand that we remain engaged and motivated and seek new opportunities for growth.
👉Can we stay competitive in this crazy environment without sacrificing well-being and personal goals?
In this rapidly changing environment, it seems that balance is no longer a destination but a dynamic process of continually adjusting and adapting.
How can you navigate this new world?
1/ Start with your life goals and see how your career fits in them – examine what you long for career-wise. Are there areas of conflict? Where can you make concessions considering where you are right now in your career?
Pen and paper, write those down, and make sure you revisit them regularly as your circumstances change.
2/ Make the workplace another place where your personal growth happens – I am not advocating living or dating in the office! Rather, use your time there to get outside your comfort zone, whether it’s communication, handling difficult conversations, stepping up from a zone of smallness – the workplace could be giving you the expansion that the little personal time you have left is not allowing you at this moment.
3/ Set boundaries and priorities – i.e. your “enough is enough”. Not everything needs to be done for yesterday. Delegate and know how to step back as needed.
4/ Be aware of your signs of mental and physical burnout – don’t wear your busyness as a badge of honor, it’s not! Know your own cycle of pushing through and resting; and your needs in terms of work deliverables and personal time.
Our energy and attention are not meant to be linear. Creativity and productivity thrive when we keep our brains interested and our bodies nurtured.
👉Could this be our best indicator for work/life balance?