“No one on his deathbed ever said, ‘I wish I had spent more time at the office." —commonly attributed to politician Paul Tsongas or rabbi Harold Kushner
Most of us realize only retrospectively how important work-life balance is. But those of us who understand this early in the game of life, are the undeniable winners. We achieve balance when we are truly happy at work and beyond because we are using our energy adequately to manifest great work and at the same time have enough energy to show up in other dimensions of our life. The ability to be present and happy across all dimensions of our life is the true marker of work-life balance IMHO.
We spend a third of our adult lives working and tend to get consumed most of the time. Even when we are not, a lot of the time we are thinking and stressing about work. These are some examples of the inner dialogues that keep us away from enjoying life, even when we are physically away from work:
"I have to turn in that report."
"I still haven't figured out the solution to that conflict."
"Chris is so lucky, he got that promotion."
"Let me check if Rob has replied to my email."
Developing our personal blueprint
The notion of work-life balance is unique to each one of us. There is no single blueprint for work-life balance that applies to all. We each have to discover what it means to us based on our circumstances and through self-introspection. Having said that, we are in love with the 12 areas that Jon & Missy Butcher teach as part of the Lifebook program at Mindvalley. Here they are:
Health and Fitness
Your Intellectual Life,
Your Emotional Life
Your Spiritual Life
Your Love Relationships
Quality of Life
We recommend using this list as a framework to introspect about what unique combination of areas is crucial for our work-life balance. We strongly recommend that we spend a week or so just journaling about some of these areas that pop out for us and just write about what it means to really excel in each of those areas. Taking our time to introspect on these areas will go a long way towards living the life we deserve. Jon and Missy Butcher recommend three most important questions (3 MIQs) to introspect about in each area of our lives:
What do you want to experience?
How do you want to grow?
How do you want to contribute?
Regularly introspecting on these questions will unlock some serious answers, we guarantee that. As we mentioned in an earlier post, journaling is our best friend to understand what we truly desire and be dead honest with ourselves.
Once we identify these areas, it is important to make time and energy for these areas of our life. Like we mentioned in an earlier post on reclaiming attention, scheduling time for areas other than work can help tremendously. By doing so we are telling ourselves that we respect different aspects of our life, not just work. We end up having a broader vision of what life entails, one that is not myopically focused on work alone.
The missing link
Now, we might have recognized the different areas we want to focus on and have a lot of clarity about them. We might be making time for them on our schedule. But there is one key aspect, which if ignored, can disturb the perceived work-life balance. And this happens to be common to all of us - Awareness.
How aware we are of each moment as we experience life, is what truly determines work-life balance, irrespective of what our personal blueprint is, IMHO. Managing our awareness to be in the present moment as we go through different aspects of life, is the counter-intuitive approach towards achieving work-life balance. To truly go through life addressing the different dimensions with full awareness is the only way to guarantee work-life balance. And the answer to this lies in mindfulness.
The mindfulness movement is taking off in the 21st century, like how the running movement took off in the 80s. Honing our awareness with mindfulness is the secret sauce towards achieving work-life balance in the 21st century. This is why it works:
Mindfulness to reclaim our energy
In a previous post about reclaiming attention, we established the importance of managing our internal distraction machine to reclaim attention at work. Whether we realize it or not, we spend a whole lot of time and energy processing our unnecessary thoughts and emotions, resulting in poor productivity. We lose precious time and energy in the process.
We believe that work-life balance is all about energy management. We spend energy when we pay attention to something. The more time we spend paying attention to distracting thoughts and non-serving emotions and actions, the more energy we lose. And we are left with very little gas in the tank to show up in areas of our life that matter. Since we spend a third of our life working, the no-brainer approach is then to conserve our energy at work by being super focused and mindful so that we can readily use the residual energy in other areas of our life. This is essentially the secret to achieving work-life balance.
At Turia, our mission is to help us reclaim our energy at work by nudging us to show up with complete attention and mindfulness. Do join our waitlist at Turia.ai to join us in this journey.