How does one decide what is correct and what is wrong, in our life? What is the meaning of the balanced life we live? This dilemma is faced by all of us. Since the last 50 to 70 years, life has become fast the world over, due to various things. In recent times the working from home concept and the facility has made life more comfortable but at the same time complicated and hectic. The work from home concept came up due to the internet, computers and space issues. People from organisations are working in the US, Europe, India and Japan. All have different time zones. A lot of work and projects keep on happening all 24 hours because it is working hours for some part of the office in the world. When there are some essential discussions people will join the meeting at 4 am, 12 noon, 7 pm or 12 midnight. Such meetings are many times regular bi-monthly meetings.
What happens to work-life balance in such cases? It goes for a toss! When you have such meetings, are you left with home life? Certainly not. But if you want to grow in the career such meetings, extensive travels, dinners, conferences are part of work life. So how do we keep the work-life balance? When we use the word balance, we tend to think about putting limits on either home life or work schedules. Neither is good. People who must go home at 4.30 pm every day, come what may, tend to get noticed (and also tend to get a notice with a pink slip!)
Let us accept the fact that there is a work-life balance issue. You have a great career going, and you have a fantastic family life. What is this? Utopia? Fantasy? It is neither. The same problem or issue can be expressed differently. The balance that we are talking about is not the real balance but finding the golden mean. Trying to achieve the work-life balance limits many things.
The human race will not prosper or grow if we always talk of balance. The balancing act is a low aim, we don’t force ourselves to do better. We do not push us, our employers, our leaders to do better and better. Still in many companies waiting long periods is considered the ultimate, without checking the results achieved.
We should aim to achieve everything but must remember that all that cannot be completed in one go. There are times when we can give more time to home life, and sometimes you are required to do the same for work. These should be treated as natural ups and downs of life. If you think big and look at the bigger picture, you are more likely to achieve your goal.
All of us work because we want to support ourselves, our families, and the people around us. We are all doing work that we’re proud of and that provides meaning and purpose to us. But even if our job does not make you very joyful each new day, working is a part of what each of us does and the contribution we make to our society.
When you separate work and life, then you cannot keep a “connect” between the two activities. But when you think of work as part of a full life and your daily ritual, then we can see that one is dependent on the other, for success and improvement.
What are the disadvantages of talking about balance? One can fall down badly if you lose the balance. That falling or failing will happen in our lives. We need to find a solution which will evolve rather than taking a fixed path. We have some good days and bad days and some ok days. This is a normal variation in life and can happen in both work and personal matters. If we are not mentally prepared for this evolution, then a faltering step will put you in a tough situation.
If you look for a very steady lifestyle, it never happens that way. Sometimes you may have to work longer, your spouse is unwell, so on the way back, you will have to pick up dinner too! Sometimes you may have to miss an office picnic because your niece is getting engaged on that day! One does not have to feel sorry about both situations.
I will share with you an important event. More than fifteen years back my mother expired. She was 78. The funeral was at 5 am as she had died late at night. After coming home, we were trying to absorb what had happened. Jaya had some foreign visitors in her office, and there was a concluding meeting at 9.30 am. All of us at home coaxed Jaya to go and attend the meeting; the guests were to travel back home that night. What was the point in cancelling or postponing that meeting? Jaya came back home at about 11.30. Guests were never told about the event at home, and it was work as usual.
How was the lifestyle in my grandparent’s time? He would probably go to the office at 10 am. Was back home at 4.30 pm. By 6.30 pm he would have his meal and start preparing to go to sleep at 7 pm. He would listen to news on the radio in those days. There was nothing else to do anyway. Now we are spoiled for career types, for entertainment, social media and what have you! These days one has to be careful about the time spent on social media. It can severely damage your work-life balance.
Today Jaya and I went for a brunch with our daughter Priya. We spent one lovely hour together. The rule was to keep the phone away. Priya was allowed to answer the phone when her patients called. We somehow managed to carve out quality time with Priya from her busy schedule. You don’t have to do the balancing act all the time, instead you act!
It is important how we talk about any situation. Let us avoid the balancing act of work-life and try to think about bigger and better things to achieve fulfilment. Don’t forget that our life does not move on what has happened previously. We can take our stand to achieve our goals. Doing a balancing act may never take you towards your goal.