One of the most common questions I get asked, or find myself asking, when catching up with friends is “How is work?”. It is not really that surprising given that we spend over 50% of our waking hours at work. If you are like me, you spend even more time away from the office engaged in work, or thinking about work-related matters. Work can, and does, take up a significant part of our lives.
It is also not surprising that work can have a significant impact on our happiness and well-being. Trying to create a work-life balance is something that everyone strives to do. In fact, there are countless speeches, books, and blogs written on the topic, all offering advice on how to achieve ‘balance’.
Having worked for over 20 years in 7 different businesses, I too have struggled to find what balance means to me. I would not say that I have achieved balance, but I am a lot closer to finding the type of balance that works for me.
The key for me is all about flexibility. This means being willing to work outside the normal business hours to give me some occasional flexibility during the normal workday. I still work long hours, I would not feel that I am contributing my fair share unless I did. But I also know that there are occasions when I can take time for important personal events, such as my children’s school assembly or a sports carnival. A few hours in front of the TV screen at night are easy to sacrifice to instead get to experience some important moments with my family.
I am fortunate that I work in an environment where I can operate with a degree of flexibility. Our workplace has always had an attitude of rewarding people who put in effort over and above the minimum expectations. Whether the reward is money or time, we always try to show our appreciation for the efforts of our employees.
So there you have it, my take on striving for balance. This approach may not work for everyone, but it works for me. It allows me to get the most out of life, whilst still achieving the goals I have professionally.