The Work- Life Balance: An Illusion

In life, we all make certain assumptions and believe them.  If we work more, we will have more time for life. If we work harder and earn more, we will be able to fulfill all our desires and wishes. If we do this, we can have that etc. Well, time for reality check. All these assumptions are dead wrong! Yes and I say this with experience and absolute certainty.  

When I got a job, I was happy that now I will be able to pursue my hobbies myself without depending on my parents. I bought a dSLR, oil paints, canvas, puzzles and other things. Did I paint? No. Did I make puzzles? let’s see, that box has lots of dust on it for sure. Did I start exploring photography? Hahahahaha, the camera is sitting in my cupboard!

Then, I was promoted from part-time to full-time job. I was over the moon because all my hard work paid off.  It meant now I can do everything I want. Wrong again.  I ended up working even harder, bringing some work home and checking emails at home!  Don’t get me wrong. I love my job. But the hard truth is, I don’t have time to do paintings, or make puzzles or even read a book because I have other commitments such as taking mom for grocery shopping, helping her around the house and other chores. So where is time?

When you work more, you don’t have more time for life. When you work harder and earn more, your really don’t get to spend that money because you are ‘busy’ working. When you do this, you will not have that because you will have 100 more commitments. And here is another reality check: there are only 24 hours in a day.

I am not writing anything new. Many people have written about it and its out there.  All of us struggle in finding that balance between work and life and we do need help. Everyone needs a balance. So what’s new here?

There is one fundamental problem.  It is with the statement “Work-Life Balance”.    

Jason Martin - Witch (exhibited in Anima Lounge May 2013)

 

Work – Life Balance : is work really different from life? Ever heard of “work is life” or ‘life is work”?  Ohhhh yes!  This was my ‘ah ha” moment in the workshop. How is it ever possible that I did not see that?!!!! This reminded me of the dialogue in the movie ‘Now You See Me’: “the closer you look, the less you see”.  The painting by Jason Martin “Witch”  exhibited in Anima Lounge in Doha, Qatar practically shows the meaning of the dialogue. Simply put, when work is a part of life, how could the two be pitted against each other?! We become so busy in scrutinizing every thing in such detail that we lose the big picture. This is a critical mistake.

It’s not about work – life balance. It’s about “life balance” and this insight changed my whole perspective towards the balance issue. Balance is not about quantity. It’s about quality.  It’s about ‘when do we have the times of our lives’, being present and soaking in the moments, being content with what we have or with whatever we are doing in present. It’s all about focus.  So, while I was attending the professional development workshop “The Myth of Work-Life Balance” presented by Pam Vaccaro, it was hard for me not to check my work emails on the mobile (come on, we are all guilty of checking our mobiles now and then during meetings and lunch. We are all in the same boat 🙂 ). But I did not check my mobile for emails. Wait, let me re-word it. I chose not to check my emails during this workshop.  I chose to focus on the workshop and be present in the moment.

The truth is: we don’t focus. We are never present in the moment. Be honest and ask yourself: when was the last time you were really present in the moment? When was the last time you really enjoyed that tea in the garden soaking in the nature around you? When was the last time you had a great time with friends? When?

We are so busy in glorifying busy and complaining about lack of time that we hardly notice anything around us. When we choose to focus, we choose to be present in the time soaking up every single detail around us without any pressures. We are at peace and happy. Naturally losing focus leads to imbalance . It’s all about what we value in our lives and these values make up the life balance. 

At work, we are accountable for our tasks and performance. Why then do we not hold ourselves accountable on life balance? There is a need for life balance accountability and once we choose to do it, life will become balanced. 

One thought-provoking question asked was “How will you feel if you don’t________?” (fill out the blank for you).

For me, the questions were

  • How will you feel if you don’t write, share and try new experiences on your blog? (regret, resentment sad and angry) 
  • How will you feel if you don’t read books anymore? (I already feel a part of me is dead as I have lost my imagination)
  • How will you feel if you don’t paint anymore? (I feel suffocated and trapped)

The answers show why I am out of sync. I give too much attention to one aspect of life and ignore others. I am  not balanced. But this is not all.

This exercise also opened up a Pandora’s box within me that I have kept shut for a decade. The truth is my fears of being judged by others and failure stops me from writing on blog and trying new things (a in another post).

So I broke away from my fears. I took the first step in revamping the look and layout of the blog, de-cluttering the space and am taking it to a whole new level. It might work, it might not work. But that’s where the fun part is. I will learn, create, develop skills, make new friends on community and who knows what opportunities open up through this. I am focusing and am present in this moment.

I am owning up the life balance.

(that dSLR is out from the cupboard. I took the first pictures and they are on the Photography page 🙂 )