Today’s world seems smaller and faster, now we can get access to anything we want almost immediately and with this our expectations and need for instant gratification have significantly increased. Technology has advanced rapidly in response to our ever-evolving desire to have everything we want immediately – but what does this do to our minds?
Having unlimited access to so much information has led to a serious saturation and overload in our expectations and our belief in our abilities to be able to keep up. We are constantly ‘plugged in’ and fed selected information from service providers, businesses, social accounts not to mention friends and family, of the perfect life, the perfect looks, career and or business successes.
However, unlike technology we are not machines, with the capabilities to process like computers, we actively need down time and an appreciation for boredom, patience and presence. It is not surprising then is it that so many of us burn out, feel lost, overwhelmed and disconnected.
The answer? Creating a better work life balance of course – that’s what we all believe isn’t it? Society has developed alongside this technological evolution, the perceived holy grail and optimal state of being, that we all desire to achieve – the elusive notion of the perfect Work Life Balance.
We are all told we need more of this. We all believe we deserve to achieve it – but what really is it and does it in fact even exist?
Let me ask you, what does a work life balance mean to you?
Through scrolling social media platforms, I see that it looks like sipping cocktails on a beach while staring at a device, taking selfies and being seen through a screen. Yet on the reverse of that when I explore what it takes to create that, all I see is a lot of lost opportunities to enjoy the moment instead of trying to actively and perfectly capture it for others’ amusement. I mean imagine, how many takes must they attempt before they get the perfect shot, really?!
If you explore the actual meaning of balance it’s to offset, allow even distribution, stabilise and enable us to have correct or equal proportions. When it comes to work and life, is that feasible? And what exactly are those equal and correct proportions?
This is where the concept falls down, in my opinion. The social saturation we have these days through technology and its capabilities and advancements, has us buying into the fact that we can have ‘it all’. Yet, no one seems to take the time to define what ‘all’, or indeed a work life balance means to them, individually or even collectively – is it the 40-hour working week?
Personally, I do not believe in the myth of having a work life balance. Ultimately every day’s expectations of ourselves and our desires for our lives is different depending on our moods, our emotions, our experiences etc. therefore, the definition of ‘balance’ is fluid.
I like to talk about the work life integration, and how every aspect of our lives contributes towards a fulfilling existence.
In today’s world Mindfulness is a much needed and stabilising tool to counteract the noise and busyness of our lives. Through Mindfulness, which is starting to build in popularity in parallel with technological advances, we are taught how to quieten the mind, slow ourselves down, improve our emotional intelligence to consciously and actively manage our growing attachment to technology. In the quiet we can start to discover what our ideal integrated life would look like – from there it is then easy to design the pathway to achieving it.
Here are a few tips from me that might help you if you’re currently battling balance.
3 Mindful Approaches to Develop your own Work Life Integration:
- Determine for yourself initially what proportion of your working week you deem as acceptable to be present with your work, mentally & physically. Then test that with your family.
We often spend time thinking about work even when we aren’t there, and that doesn’t scream of a conscious and controlled integration.
Consider what it looks like to have a healthy mental relationship with your work, and when you feel it can encroach on your free or personal time. Enjoying what you do and knowing how it contributes to you feeling purposeful is an important part of this process also.
Discuss your approaches to manage this with your nearest and dearest, having support and another perspective to get behind your goals and understand them truly helps in developing new sustainable habits and thought processes.
- Create Transition Moments.
Have you ever found yourself leaving work in a rush thinking about all the things you are pausing only to have to pick up again tomorrow? And that impending doom feeling lingers into your home life for that evening or even the following morning? If the answer is yes then a transition moment might be just what you need.
Creating a mindfulness ritual to support you to consciously cut ties to the unfinished work and job so that you can go home looking forward to your evening. It might be that you write a to do list for the following day to ensure nothing is forgotten. You might create a gratitude rampage for all the ways you’re looking forward to enjoying your evening with your family when you get home. You might spend 5 solid minutes centering yourself in your car before you drive home, managing your emotions, expectations and your need to have an enjoyable evening.
- Create a daily ritual to connect you to your Why.
Having a purpose bigger than ourselves helps us keep perspective, enables us to keep grounded and fulfil our need to contribute to a greater part of society. Every morning you can create a space to remind yourself what you are doing today and why, how does this make you feel and what qualities do you need to bring into your day to enjoy it and be your best self? In the evening, you can create a space to reflect on how you accomplished this vision for your day and how well you spent your time connected to your purpose.
I really hope that helps, I know these practices have really helped me, and I invite you to explore work life integration to see just how much this shift could impact your everyday life.