As you enter adulthood, you begin to hear and acknowledge terms like work-life balance. Nowadays, people have set the term as a myth, and that there's an urge to debunk it for us to enjoy working while living life to the fullest. The notion of a work-life balance was popularized back in the 1980s, where work and life outside of work had traditionally been seen as two separate worlds. Thus, the misconception of work-life balance gives false perceptions such as being inviolable and life outside of work as a less aspect to be concerned about or an assumption that life is full of fun. These kinds of perceptions could lead to unrealistic expectations, and when something in our life happens to twist the “balance,” usually it’ll draw to tremendous stress. So, let us tell you that work-life balance is a myth. No one could conquer such balance because, in reality, both work and life are a part of each other, and it’s equally essential to our lives.
So, to debunk this work-life balance myth, Harvard Business School students researched in learning how to reconcile our professional and personal lives. It results in five main themes: defining success for yourself, managing technology, building support networks at work and home, traveling or relocating selectively, and collaborating with your partner.
Defining Success For Yourself
In leading a purposeful life, you have to define what success means to you. Some intriguing gender differences emerged in the survey data. For example, men still think of their family responsibilities in breadwinning, whereas women often see theirs as role models for their children. Male executives tend to praise their partners for making positive contributions to their careers, whereas women praise theirs for not interfering. Executives of both sexes consider the tension between work and family to be primarily a woman’s problem, and most of them believe that one can’t compete in the global marketplace while leading a “balanced” life. “Earnestly trying to focus,” the authors of HBR conclude, “is what will see them through.”
Deciding when, where, and how to be accessible for work is an ongoing challenge, especially in this digital era. Because there's a common concern that constantly being "plugged in" with technology can erode your performance. The key is to learn to manage communications technology wisely. For example, in Indonesia, WhatsApp is used as one of the business tools, and it tends to interfere with personal matters 😆 #WhatsappAnxiety. While they can function as good servants for us humans, the overuse of technology can also be seen as bad masters. Make yourself available but not too open to your team and colleagues, be honest with yourself about how much you can multitask, build relationships and trust through face time, and keep your inbox under control.
Building Support Networks at Work and Home
Managing your personal and professional life requires a strong network of behind-the-scenes supporters because emotional support is essential. They say strong family cores equal a great potential at work. As you get older, you'll also notice how your circle of friends starts to shrink, and quality becomes an important aspect. Support at work matters too because trusted colleagues serve as valuable sounding boards. So, find your true allies. 👀
Traveling or Relocating Selectively
Work-life balance usually focuses on how to manage your time, yet managing your location is also critical. While you might work somewhere else outside your region, your household may get the side effects. Either your family, partner and (future) children will get sidetracked or derailed because you need to relocate. Survey results in almost none of the men had turned down an international assignment because of cultural concerns. But for women, not all travel is created equal in gender norms, employment laws, health-care access, and views on work-life balance vary from country to country. Though women, in particular, have such difficulties, traveling is not easy for anyone. Survey also shows that both sexes have built gratifying careers while grounding themselves in a particular country or even city.
Collaborating with your Partner
Please take note, it is important to have a complementary relationship and shared common goals with your partner. Why? Because when you value each other’s emotional intelligence, task focus, big-picture thinking, detail orientation, and so on, it’ll contribute to your career as well. Think of a partner as your reflective mirror. If they take part as your sounding board and honest critics, you might start being the same to your partner. Many men and women mentioned that partners who believe in them or have urged them to take business risks or pursue job opportunities were not immediately rewarding, but it led them to longer-term satisfaction. A partner’s support may come in all shapes and sizes, but good support comes when they'll be making sure of your human capital effectively. Partners can help you keep your eyes on what matters, budget your time and energy, live healthfully, and make deliberate choices, even tough ones on both work and life outside of work.
Yet, sometimes, life happens…
Like what we’ve told you before, when something in our life happens to twist the “balance,” it can draw enormous stress. So, first, don’t put high expectations on what work-life balance "seems to be" or "should’ve been" because it depends on your flexibility. Suddenly, it is possible to have your priorities be postponed by a personal crisis—for instance, trouble at home or a death in the family. And then there’s a tendency to ignore work-life balance until “something is wrong.” Thus, take multiple routes and set your boundaries for yourself while working and not working. Keep your mind present at all times and try not to think about the what-ifs (take note: practice mindfulness!). Lastly, remind yourself not to let the term work-life balance define your life but your actions.
“No one is too busy in the world. It’s all about priorities.”