This is the question that has been going around for as long as we can remember. However, this question is becoming more important as technology apps allow work discussions and tasks to enter into our lives. For certain industries, it is almost impossible to avoid client calls after office hours. Technology has also added more stress to employees as it allows employers to track and monitor the productivity of each person and the relevance of their role. Those who are young and single, and are pursuing their passion as a job may not think about work-life balance as much as someone who is married, older, and feeling more burned-out.
Work as a passion
It is a dream come true for those of us who are doing something we love at work. Doing something we enjoy may help us feel that our job itself is life. But however, nothing lasts forever. Our satisfaction with finding what we love to do eventually becomes something lukewarm and then we get bored at it. I have known a co-worker when I was just fresh out of school in my first job who said he loved his job so much he would stay in the company forever. Of course, that didn’t happen. After a few years, he switched departments and left the company. His joy with what he did lasted maybe two years? Even if we were to stay in the same job that had initially sparked our passion, we also go through the passage of life with marriage and children.
Life outside of work
Most of us look for meaning outside of our jobs. What we call life has different meanings for different people. Many people see their professional engagements as a form of life. Those who do not love their jobs or the company look forward to time out from work. There are those who look forward to spending time with friends. After marriage, we want to spend more time with family. Companies mindful of giving their employees a balance retains employees and their loyalty. But it depends on the values of the company and the founders of the organization. Some founders of the company are focused on productivity and value revenue more than employees. Some companies strike a good balance between welfare and work-life balance of the employees and revenue growth.
How to balance work and life?
We may be sandwiched between the demands of our jobs and the family’s needs and feel exhausted. The need to balance the two becomes pertinent if we find less time to do what we want outside of work. Some may feel they are missing out on spending time on favorite hobbies, such as jamming with friends or writing a novel. Often, we may feel that it is circumstances that are killing our choice of options, but it is not.
Oftentimes, we allow circumstances to make decisions for us. The truth is, we are the ones who are making the decisions. It is true that jobs may be scarce or it could be one’s age or lack of certain skills that are preventing one from getting a new job. However, nothing is set in stone. It takes time to quiet the mind. You can quiet the mind with meditation so that you can look at the situation carefully. With the mind calmed and quiet, you allow yourself space in the mind to see potentials and possibilities.
Job and life as one
Melting both your job and life as one may seem a curious attempt. How can one’s job be one’s life and vice-versa? The truth is our minds separate things. It separates people into likes and dislikes. It also separates activities such as work and life. How we perform at our job and how we are at home comes from our minds. A poor man working at a factory could hate his job for the low pay and for his lack of skills. He could drown his sorrows, spend his money unwisely and go home to an unhappy family due to his irresponsibilities.
But if he were to pay attention to his job, no matter how boring and monotonous, he might find himself enjoying his presence at his work. This might allow him to finish his work early and become more productive. It could attract the attention of his supervisor. He could use the extra time to read and increase his knowledge or to attend a night class. Even if he could not fully yet provide for his family as he wishes to, his family would understand he is doing all he can to improve himself.
The same goes for any man or woman in a modern workplace. With a mind focused in the present through mindfulness, time passes meaningfully. Our quality of work is based on the quality of our minds. It is not who does it but how it is done. But if the hours and the bosses are becoming unreasonable despite your graceful efforts, it is time to take stock and make a decision on how to balance life. Whether one is rich or poor, the options remain similar. There is always the space that allows us to change the situation. It only takes awareness and mindfulness to stop, discern and decide.