Work-life balance … are you familiar with the concept? I remember when I was working in corporate and the concept started to appear. We all had to think about our work-life balance and how we could improve it. At that point in my career it made sense to me: thinking about workload, not working too late, keeping time for exercise/ leisure and family.  This is also when in France, specifically as the working hours had changed, people could start taking “RTT” e.g. 1/2 day to 1 day off to make sure they were working the right hours per week on average… Beauties of the new millennium….

  • Two sides of a coin 

What I find striking is that work and life were opposed as 2 side of a coin: the work side and the life side…. And I think when I started my working career, I did see work as a new part and a massive part but as a separate part of the rest of my life – like a new life – new friends, new colleagues, new habits, new excitement.

When I started working it felt like I had a home life and a work life separated, a bit like my student life (away from home) and coming back during holidays were separate. Yet it was still me as a whole person.

It is also true that we do not want to bring back work at home – or at least the thought of work at home is not something we wanted to do about 20 years ago or unless stress at work was too much.

So what is the work-life balance concept and did the novelty made sense then, or was it because I had not really asked myself the question about what place work had in my life – as I liked what I was doing and it fitted in my life as it was then?

  • The Rise of Digital

And then, we got email, a laptop and a phone. Nowadays we can pretty much work anywhere at anytime. It’s all about flexible working. I benefit from it for my coaching or consulting sessions. They can happen anywhere in the world. I can hear and see people like they are in the same room and I can share documents with them like they are seating next to me. It’s a revolution.

Yet, it can feel like being on a leash and not being able to escape as work is everywhere in our life – especially if you work from home. Where the boundaries of work are ever floating depending on the project we are involved in or the demands of the boss.

As phones become extension of our being, we seem to forget we work ( or are distracted by our phones for other reasons) when we are with our loved ones.

  • Priorities and Choices

So, I may not be painting the prettiest picture, with us humans chained to our desks or our phones. Work is a way to earn a living but how does it fit into what we want to make of our life?

I have to admit my priorities have changed over the last 20 years I have been in the work force and what I wanted to do as a job changed too and also the how changed. For me, the arrival of my second child started to be a catalyst to think through what I wanted out of life and work. I wanted to rethink how work fitted in my life and what it meant for me.

It will all be different for all of us based on our family and life situation. And I also have used work as a way of distraction when there were things I did not want to think about, I welcomed the diversion.

But we have to make work work for us. Is it easy to change? No, not always and we know it.

Does it involve taking risks, setting boundaries, making choices and compromises? Yes, most likely.

But being miserable in life because of work is not a way of living and being. But we will all make different choices based on who we are, what we want and our experience. There is no one size fits all. That’s our own personal choice.

“If your success is not on your own terms,  if it looks good to the world but does not feel good in your heart, it is not success at all” Anna Quindlen, journalist.

So what will you re-assess? What will you change? What dream of yours will you make come true?

 

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To note, the views are my own and you can agree or not. It’s ok.