When we talk about or “strive for” work-life balance – what do we usually mean by that? What are we actually looking for in that? So to speak, what would be the end result of this infamous “balance”?
I assume, most of us would reply with something like this: I want to enjoy life more, I want to be less stressed, I want to spend more quality time with my loved ones.
How stressed are Canadians?
Did you know that in 2013, 23.0% (6.6 million) of Canadians aged 15 and older reported that most days were ‘quite a bit’ or ‘extremely stressful’. Naturally, the first thing that comes to mind why we are stressed is work, since we spend 80% of our waking hours at work. Naturally, at work, we are expected to grow and face new challenges (if we want to grow) and that, in the end, may present with a few stressful situations. Now, how do we find the balance, and as a result live more fulfilled lives?
Well, first of all make sure you love the work you do. Naturally, it was your choice, no-one enslaved you in any position. However, even, say if we here in our (Marketing) Greenhouse are in love with marketing, branding and such, why do we still feel stressed at times?
So, we’ve tried to crack the stress code, here at one of our Learn ‘n Grow team sessions. And here’s what we’ve got:
Is it stress or “perceived” stress.
Let’s face it. There are a few stressful situations that we face on a daily basis, that are not “stress”, but how we see the situation. Some stresses get you going and they are good for you – without any stress at all many say our lives would be boring and would probably feel pointless. The first step is to pay attention where the anxiety/stress is coming from – the actual stressor. You might be stressed by the way someone talks to you, or how people behave on Sky Train or you may be stressed by the deadline, that is approaching at work. Get quiet, and see what the stressor actually is and see if it’s a valid point to be stressed about or it’s a perceived-stress situation.
The true reason behind stress.
But how does stress actually happen?
There are two reasons why humans get stressed – it’s when we feel that we are in danger or we are challenged. So, if you are not a firefighter or a paramedic, there’s very little that would put you in danger at your workplace. Unless computers come to life and finally take over the world. Until then, most likely we are facing many challenging situations that stretch our limitations, our boundaries and our usual ways of doing things. So, if we look at a situation from this perspective and say that whatever we are facing today is just challenging us to grow, then it may not be as scary and stressful. Changing your own attitude towards what happens during the day will do wanders.
Define your own balance.
What is balance? What is work? What is life? Define those things for yourself. Notice your own “season of life” as Tony Robbins would say. Yes, sometimes when you are on a new project, you will work more and do less of “life”, so to speak, but then as you get more skilled (after you put 10,000 hours into a task, as per Malcolm Gladwell), then the things will get easier (until you get a new project, that is ;).There's no work-life balance: it's all living. #happyatwork Click To Tweet
Some days, also, might feel like you are a super-hero and some days that you are a villain captured (by the super-hero you were yesterday). So, pay attention to your life and see what balance means to you. Only you know how it looks like.
Live your life 24×7.
Life is life, and there are many ways to live it. But what if we just live our lives 24×7, and then we don’t need to balance anything. How radical!
The truth is most of us have to go to work every day (working from home is awesome, but something has to be said for team work and energy it brings when people work together). So ask yourself: “what have I done to live the balance?” The thing is, what we do at work has a strong correlation to who we are in “life.” We learn and grow at work and apply our new skills at home with our families and friends. Do you think Picasso was looking for work life balance? Or Thomas Edison. Do you think he was sitting there with his light bulbs and thinking …. darn… I need more balance in my life. I don’t think so. Because they were just living. Living through every experience that was presented, through work or otherwise.
So, create something awesome. Soak in all the learnings and new opportunities you are facing each day at the office. Live it. Live it fully!
Lastly, what puts some of us into a stressful situation is the perceived need to be more or better or something that we are not. We try to fit in and act inauthentically. We have these two versions of us: one “life-us” and the other is “work-us”. The bad news is, every time we act not from the space of who we are, not in line with our own integrity, this very shift causes us to be stressed, because we are constantly playing a role, and that’s tiring.