Find your Balance

Published: 10th February 2012
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Traditionally creating and managing a balance between the work-life was considered to be a woman's issue. But increasing work pressures, globalization and technological advancement have made it an issue with both the sexes, all professionals working across all levels and all industries throughout the world. Achieving "work-life balance" is not as simple as it sounds. Work life and personal life are inter-connected and interdependent. Spending more time in office, dealing with clients and the pressures of job can interfere and affect the personal life, sometimes making it impossible to even complete the household chores.

On the other hand, personal life can also be demanding if you have a kid or aging parents, financial problems or even problems in the life of a dear relative. It can lead to absenteeism from work, creating stress and lack of concentration at work. Work-personal life conflict occurs when the burden, obligations and responsibilities of work and family roles become incompatible. Obligation of one can force an individual to neglect the other

What are the causes of Work Life Imbalance?

Poor Time Management: This is something that has been spoken about repeatedly by most of our bosses, parents or those who have some sort of authority over us. Unfortunately many of us don’t heed the warning signs of poor time management such as sleep and appetite disturbances, irritability, and chronic anxiety as well as a poor reputation for time management. We haven’t prioritized between wants and need, between what is urgent and what is essential important in terms of tasks that require out attention. Poor time managers are also usually those who haven’t set forward a clear set of long term, short term and immediate goals that need to be reached with a time frame for their achievement. Procrastination is another sign of poor time management. Some of us are just down right lazy to get a job done on time. Some of us bite off more than we can chew, i.e., we take on more than we can handle and then find ourselves pushing off work or shirking responsibilities because it’s too difficult for us. This then begins to affect out personal lives as well when we begin to bring work home or stay unnecessary hours at work, putting off our household responsibilities.

Workaholism: Workaholics or those addicted to the high that they experience at work can also lose work life balance. People sometimes need work to give them the identity, power, attention or sense of success that they are otherwise unable to find in their personal lives. Workaholism is often a sign of deeper personal issues such as marital conflict, an abusive home situation, lack of attention or neglect at home. Sometimes workaholism also becomes the refuge of those who are grieving or are in great pain or who are experiencing intense anger. I have often seen workaholism among family members that are dealing with death, infertility, and problems with in-laws, a wayward child or a spouse in an extramarital relationship giving to

Lack of Assertiveness: New recruits, or inexperienced workers sometimes lack the ability to raw the line on what is or is not acceptable fro them in term of work load, hours of work etc. They sometimes find it difficult to say no to those in authority and so find themselves stretched beyond their limits. This in turn affects their work life balance with constant fights erupting about their lack of ability to carry out personal responsibilities. On the other hand some of us simply want to please everyone around us or do not wish to hurt anyone’s feelings even at the cost of our own health and equilibrium. We do not realize that we are pushing ourselves beyond the point of what we are actually able to handle. Some us find our shyness, fear or anxiety coming the way of our assertiveness.

Lack of Job Clarity: A lot of times there is a lack of clarity in the workspace about the exact nature of our role in the organization. There may be a vagueness of what is expected of us; there maybe duplication of work, there may be unsaid agendas in the minds of our immediate supervisors. All of which can confuse us about what we should do in such a situation. It may also lead to us doing more than what is actually required or taking on tasks that are not actually ours simply out of fear of not having covered our tasks. This can happen on the home front as well especially when there are no specific demarcation of roles and responsibilities. IT can end up with some family members experiencing role strain while others face confusion about what they actually need to do.

A Chronically Ill Family Member: Sometimes a spouse, parent or child may be ill, which means additional responsibility for the older more accountable members. This would mean less time and more stress. There may be financial pressures as well which may require the other members to take one more than one job.

Poor Self Awareness- Some people simply lack awareness about themselves I terms of what are their strengths and weaknesses and what are their thresholds for stress. Sometimes there is a sense of insecurity about the future or a fear of losing control which them pushes people to lose work life balance by forcing themselves to do more than is required. Some people simply don’t trust others to do the job as well as themselves and so fail to delegate responsibility. Others do not wish to give up control or feel intimidated by team work and so end up doing everything themselves. Still others do not wish to share credit because of a deep need for an abnormal amount of appreciation or recognition.

Some Beliefs that Interfere with Work Life Balance and how to overcome them:

‘ Everyone’s doing it…’
In many aspects of our lives, we look to others for what is acceptable, desirable and appropriate. The fashion pages of modern magazines bear witness to collective beliefs of how to dress, present ourselves and evaluate others. Cultural and social expectations further influence the course of our life choices. We rarely stop to question whether this is the path we want to take. We experience temporary freedom when we break from the norm. For example, ‘working excessively long hours’ or ‘foregoing a personal life in favor of our careers’ may be sold as the only way to achieve corporate success. However, this assumption inhibits us considering ways in which work and personal life may be more meaningfully integrated in a more meaningful way.
Accept that you are unique and what will bring you happiness will be very different from someone else. Question the norms which influence your life and focus on what you enjoy – even if it contradicts what people of your age, professional group and culture expect. Work and private life do not have to conflict but can be a source of mutual enjoyment. Therefore, look for ways to integrate your work and personal life rather than allow others to dictate how to live your life.

‘I’ll do it to please my bioss/parents/spouse…’
From a young age, the pressure to conform to the demands and expectations of others is enormous. In the normal course of socialisation, we want to belong and be accepted by others. However, conflict arises when there is disparity between who we want to be and what others want us to be. The resultant anxiety is often interpreted as presumed ‘rightness’ in the status quo. However, this is not the case.
Anxiety is part of living a well-lived life and is inevitable for someone who chooses meaningfully. It doesn’t mean that it is right for us to conform to others’ expectations and choose from the limited options this brings. To manage the conflict that arises out of non-conformity, we try to influence others to change their behavior and become who we want them to be. However, by engaging in direct action to bring about happiness in our own lives, we connect with our personal power and gain mastery over our own life choices. Aim to define what is desirable for you rather than allowing peer pressure, organizational culture or image to dictate appropriate behavior.

I promised, so I must…’
So often our lives are bogged down with commitments made at earlier times in our lives and which, if we had the choice, would be relinquished. Many commitments, once made, are unquestioned and we continue on a path that is more about duty and obligation rather than enjoyment and meaning. We feel that we have no choice.
You can re-examine your current commitments and their function in your life. Those that contribute to your unhappiness can be given up as long as you are prepared to pay the price. For example, to stay in a career because of previous investment or continue to work excessively long hours that make you unhappy is the cost you pay for continuing. Whilst responsibilities can be taken seriously, the only way to gain the resources wasted so far is to use your time, money and efforts exactly how you want to now.

‘I must be selfless…’
From a young age, we are told that we are selfish if we put our own needs before those of others and that putting ourselves at the center of our own lives is unacceptable. However, in organizations, this individualistic approach is valued. This causes conflict between our organizational commitments and our personal expectations. Cultural and social expectations encourage us to conform to others’ expectations and continue the juggle rather than consider our own needs seriously. We are pilloried as selfish parents, partners and friends if our desires impact negatively on others. We are considered uncommitted or lazy if we don’t conform to the norm of how to achieve corporate success.
By putting yourself at the center of your own life, you will experience increased personal mastery and freedom from pretence. You will also offer others the best example of taking responsibility for themselves

I must not show how tired/upset/angry I am...’
In our personal lives, social expectations encourage us to be discreet, modest or modify the truth in our interactions with others. This is often labeled as discretion, etiquette or good manners. For example, we attend parties we don’t want to go to because we will offend people if we don’t. We tolerate rudeness from family members in order to avoid conflict. The reasons we give for this is not hurting other people’s feelings. However, the real reason is that the anxiety of being honest is greater than the anxiety of maintaining the status quo. However, the real cost is dishonoring your needs, fear of being found out or maintaining the pretence of being who you are not. Dishonesty robs us of freedom and mastery over our lives. In our work lives, politics dictate that we must behave in certain ways to be accepted, be promoted and partake of the limited resources so many are apparently fighting for. Contemporary wisdom dictates that to have our slice of the cake, we must forego a balanced life and conform in culturally specific ways to be recognized and maintain our power position. This assumption means we see only two options – conform and live with the conflict or opt out and forego success.
The Dishonesty Myth is highly pervasive since the desire for others’ approval is so strong. Facing life with honesty often brings conflict from others who don’t approve of our new ways. However, dropping the pretence of being what we think others want us to be frees us to start on a journey of getting to know ourselves better. Aim to cultivate honesty in every aspect of your life. The personal relief, trust by others who can trust your word and increased self-awareness will be a few of the benefits you will enjoy.

‘I will change if only…’
Many of us want to change the balance between our work and personal lives but feel unable to for a number of reasons. We refer to commitments, debts, obligations and others' expectations as the reasons for not changing. Some people say that they want things to change but feel powerless to change or unsure as to what they really want. Others say that if only they won the lottery, shed their debts and gave up their work and personal commitments, they could make all the changes that they wanted to.
Even if you don't knowingly make changes in your life, changes will inevitably occur requiring modifications to be made. Why wait for pressures or other people's plans to begin change in your life? You have your own unique abilities, talents, dreams and ideals. The biggest issue is getting in touch with how you want to use them. You can challenge the juggling act, reduce your working hours and yet be as productive or have more satisfying relationships. However, they just don't arrive one day. You are the author of your life and if you want to change in a meaningful and informed manner, there is always a way.

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