I’m currently working at a startup company, which is also my first job, and it’s a fast-changing environment that makes me question the life my colleagues lead outside of work. In my third month of doing this position, I started to realize that I’ve spent approximately 80% of my time at work, simply because I was too occupied and was also enjoying myself with the upcoming projects with my team.
It doesn’t mean that I am unhappy. In fact, I enjoy my life as it is right now, but I can’t help but wonder:
Do I have the work-life balance everyone has been dreaming about?
Thus, to confirm my self-claimed work-life balance, I asked some of my colleagues, who are in their early 20s, about their own definitions, signs, and work-hacks that help them achieve work-life balance. FYI, they are working in various areas of our business process and here are six things about work-life balance, according to them;
1. Work-life balance is not about your working hours.
According to Sean, who works in the CEO Office, having work-life balance has nothing do with the number of hours he spent at work in a day:
“Work-life balance is more about whether I have autonomy and control over those hours. Naturally, this means asking myself; do I know what needs to be done or are there some things that are unclear? Am I the one driving the prioritization of those hours and, if not, why?”
For him, a work-life balance is strongly related to self-regulation.
According to Kelly Bos, a psychotherapist, self-regulation is one of the keys to achieving work-life balance, alongside self-awareness. Even a little self-awareness and self-regulation will help you to stay calm, focused, and enable you to regulate your behaviors which leads you to make good action choices at work. As the result of having self-awareness and self-regulation, you will work productively and enjoy the life outside of your work more consciously.
2. Your excitement of doing your work could be the sign of work-life balance.
Many people said that work-life balance is related to happiness. Runny, who is also working in the CEO Office, claimed:
“Having a work-life balance is when both leaving from work and going to work are as exciting when the people who you talk to are not only your co-workers, and when you still have so much fire on the weekend!”
Thus, work-life balance might have something to do with your passion.
In fact, based on a research, the sense of intrinsic motivation is what allows entrepreneurs to put in the long hours and hard work that makes them stand out. They care about what they do and really enjoy putting so much energy into it. Thus, finding the work that you’re passionate about and dedicating yourself to it will let you step beyond the work-life balance and even into a better place where work and life are fruitfully combined.
3. Finding your purpose in life will help you gain work-life balance.
Similar to self-awareness, finding your purpose in each aspect of your life will help you achieve work-life balance, as it will lead you to prioritize your actions and behaviors.
“To achieve work-life balance, you can start by finding your own purpose in each aspect of your life and make your own priorities. It’s great to achieve everything in life, but within all, it needs process. Believe each day is a fresh start and be kind to yourself. Remember, you are the source of your own happiness,” said Ditha, a People Acquisition officer.
When you’ve found your purpose in life, you will less likely feel drained because you’re doing something for what you believe in. Instead, when your job is aligned with your purpose, you will feel energized, even with longer than average hours, simply because you’re obsessed with your purpose.
4. Broadening your social circles might help you towards work-life balance.
According to Win, one of the Business Intelligence Analysts:
“You might gain the work-life balance by joining a community that you love. For me, observing other people’s behaviors and networking with them will help me to achieve that because I could learn many great things from them.”
Gaining work-life balance means that you have a life outside your work; it allows you to fulfill your social and personal needs.
But, having a satisfying social life doesn’t guarantee that you’ll achieve work-life balance either; you need to be fully present as well.
“I feel that, so often, stress comes from juggling two things at the same time in a given moment. Because of this, I’ve tried to be more deliberate and focus on one thing at a given moment. If it’s family time, I’m going to be a good son or brother. If it’s a meeting to discuss strategy, I am going to clear my mind and focus exclusively on that given problem and closing agenda items,” explained Sean.
5. Procrastination will be the biggest reason you do NOT have work-life balance.
Three of my colleagues agree that procrastination is the enemy of achieving work-life balance. “You need to get the tasks done ASAP and make the updates of each task as often as possible, so we don’t have to do the same things over again,” suggested Kevin, a Business Intelligence Analyst.
Bimo, who is working in the Creative Team, also added that you need to be extremely productive when you’re working. Thus, your free time after work or on the weekend will be your reward to the hard work that you’ve done. One of the most important keys to work-life balance, insisted by Sita as a Regulatory Compliance Officer, is “Never delay your work and get your things done in a timely manner.”
6. Oh, wait. Truthfully, work-life balance might not exist!
Yup, I came to realize that work-life balance doesn’t exist, but work-life integration does. As Audrey, a Corporate Communication officer claimed:
“Instead of work-life balance, work-life integration is more suitable with the reality. You do your ‘Me-Time,’ yet you keep checking on WhatsApp and replying to emails even through your phone. As for my case, I’m trying to keep my workout routine in between my work because I feel like this is the best way for me to relieve my stress and to keep being healthy. However, I always bring my phone during a workout not only to listen to music but also to check if there is something urgent that I need to respond to.”
At the end of the day, I personally think it’s impossible for us to exactly divide our work and social lives in 50–50 proportion. I’d rather combine those two things so I will have the best of both worlds. However, you are the master of your own life and you are the one who decides your own definition and life-hacks of pursuing your happiness.
So, which one represents you the most; the work-life balance or the work-life integration? Whatever you prefer, don’t forget to always choose the one which nourishes your soul with kindness and love!