A healthy "work/life" balance. Now, what the heck is that??

work-life-balance.jpg
work life balance
work life balance

Maintaining a healthy work/life balance is something we all strive for right? But, what exactly does that mean and how is it achievable? Wikipedia classifies “work-life balance” as “a concept including proper prioritizing between "work" (career and ambition) and "lifestyle" (health, pleasure,  leisure, family and spiritual development/meditation). Related, though broader, terms include "lifestyle calm balance" and "lifestyle choices”.

The beauty of this….it is different for everyone and the best part, it’s customizable to whatever you classify as “healthy balance”. There is no right answer! Just look at this article on The Huffington Post entitled “Wisdom from the Dalai Lama: Keep Working On It”. Having both read several things written by and about the Dalai Lama and having seem him speak publicly at my university, I can wholeheartedly agree with this sentiment. One thing I always try to keep in mind is that life should be thought of as a work in progress. Don’t be afraid to fail when you’re trying to achieve happiness. As George Bernard Shaw says “A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.”

Both my mother and my grandmother were big proponents of “everything in moderation”. I especially loved that during my senior year of high school, a particularly stressful time which included AP exams, a busy softball training schedule, and college applications, my mother encouraged, sparingly, what she called “mental health days”. This was a day where I didn’t have any exams or games and she would take the day off from work so we could grab lunch and do some shopping/walking/gossiping/lounging together. To me, this was her way of helping me understand the notion of “everything in moderation” by practicing a healthy work/life balance.

A fellow Workbarian shared her thoughts on what she feels a healthy life/balance means. Julia Rozier ofFound in Translationeloquently says,

I think it means not being stressed all of the time; and being able to sustain productivity in one's work in the absence of nervous breakdown, burnout, etc. while still producing results. Since some people live to work and others work to live, how much ‘life’ exists outside of work in order to maintain that sustainable energy level totally depends on the person, much like introverts and extroverts need different amounts of ‘me-time’. For some people, balance might mean getting a drink to take a break; for others, pulling an all-nighter so they feel good about what they've done that week and can relax when the project is done. I don't know yet what it means to me.”

work life balance
work life balance

This last point resonates with so many people…trying to find out what work/life balance means specifically to them and where exactly their balanced line lies. This is a very personal and individual exploration and that’s okay! It’s important to be comfortable with the idea that your balance most likely won’t mirror anyone else’s notion of balance and that it is something you must discover on your own.

And for more “food for thought”, check out the idea of happiness as the next business metric as seen in The Guardian. This article talks about the differences and discrepancies between personal and professional happiness in various demographic and social settings. Kristine A. Wong, the author of the article asks, “Does happiness matter if daily needs are not met?” In a business sense, Mark Williamson, founder and director of the London-based Action for Happiness Project is quoted as saying "All businesses should care about happiness. The happiness of a company's people is vital to their business success.” The article further illustrates how happiness can mean different things to different people.  In this year's World Happiness Report, it’s argued that “improving wellbeing should be our global priority” and I tend to agree. I operate under the personal belief that the happier I am, the happier I can make those around me.  And don’t you want to run a company that is full of happy people including yourself?

How to maintain a work/life balance?

While happiness and wellbeing sound great, it can be an overwhelming notion.  You may ask, “How do I achieve and maintain this??”  Again, this is all relative. Each person’s definition of “balance” is defined as something different so it’s important to recognize what that means to you and moving towards that goal. Part of me fully believes that it’s all about perspective when trying to find that balance and maintain it. For example, when someone states “I like my job. I feel that what I put into it is proportional to what I get out of it” indicates to me that this person enjoys what they do and whether or not they clock out right at 5 pm, isn’t the issue. So the issue then becomes whether you’re doing things that bring you personal happiness as well as professional fulfillment, proportionally. This, as you might imagine, is the crux of the entire idea, but is it even possible? Another fellow Workbarian, Brain Davis of CheerNetworks,very simply stated, “In theory, I try to take time out of my day to do something I enjoy and that adds value.” This is a mantra I personally try and follow. Taking time out of your day, during the work week in particular, to do at least one thing just for you is crucial to maintaining any sort of sanity (read: balance).

Helpful Tips and Other Resources

If you’re still finding that you’re having trouble finding ways to achieve a meaningful work/life balance, here are some other articles and tips which may prove to be helpful as provided by the Huffington Post’s “GPS for the Soul” series:

Tips to avoid work burnout

 6 ways to be happier at work

Why our ideas about work and happiness are backwards

About the Author

: Lauren Bell is the Community Concierge at Workbar Cambridge and is responsible for running the 1st floor Cafe.  She also knows an unreasonable amount about fossils. Contact her via email at

lauren@workbar.com.

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