With the festive season over and the turning of a new year, many of us will be heading back to work if we haven’t already and it can be a challenge after time off to do that. It always feels good to take a break, get away, spend more time with family and friends and let the days roll out with no particular plan and getting into back to ‘work mode’ can take a while.
It’s probably easier if we love what we do, feel fulfilled and receive a fair salary but how many of us do actually? Yet we all need to earn money so back to work we go. While we may get off to a slow start, we soon find ourselves back into the usual routines, momentum builds and before we know it the busyness can take over again; we long for the weekend, our next rostered days off or future holidays.
Why is it so hard to take our holiday or weekend Zen and maintain it when we go back to work? Whatever happened to work/life balance? It’s a term I hear often and it’s not one that I agree with particularly; here’s why.
When I hear the word balance, I visualise a pair of weighing scales, the old-fashioned ones with the various weights on one side and the weighing bowl on the other. Then I remember how hard it could be to equalise both sides, one side always just dipping below the other. To me that feels like tension, a constant effort to maintain equality between one and the other and I feel the same way about work/life balance because it assumes that we spend 50% of our time at work and the other 50% in life. But do we?
If you consider travel time, work time and thinking about work time, it’s probably quite a bit more than 50% with many of us are putting in the extra effort for no extra reward, particularly if you have your own business or are someone who carries a lot of responsibility. And what about the other 50%? Life doesn’t easily fit into a bucket of available time, things happen unexpectedly and require our attention so to me I prefer to visualise a sphere to represent the whole of life. Within that sphere is work for most of us but there is also family, health, holidays, hobbies, personal development, professional development, fun, finances, activities, shopping, cooking, cleaning, relaxing, reading, sleeping, just being and everything else that takes our time and attention outside of work.
What makes the difference is where we choose to focus our attention and spend our time within that sphere. Sometimes it’s necessary to spend extra time at work, other times our families need us more or perhaps we just need time out for ourselves to refresh and renew.
I invite you to consider this different perspective and reflect on where your focus is at any given time and will be during the year ahead. Remember ‘energy flows where attention goes’ and what you decide to pay attention to is entirely up to you; choose carefully!