I want to chat about something that's been on my mind as we slip into 2024 – the phrase "work-life balance." Now, don't get me wrong, it's essential to have time for ourselves outside of work, but let's face it, achieving that elusive "balance" can be a constant struggle. So, as we embrace the New Year, how about we retire the phrase "work-life balance" and introduce a fresh perspective: work-life sustainability?
Think about it – the word "balance" implies a delicate juggling act, where work and personal life are constantly at odds, and you’re pressured to divide your time and energy equally between the two (and when you can’t, you “fail”). In reality, life doesn't always equally see-saw between home and work. Responsibilities and priorities fluctuate, and the demands of work and personal life cannot always align.
Here's where the concept of work-life sustainability comes into play. Instead of striving for a balanced distribution of your time and energy, it encourages you to focus on long-term wellbeing and making choices that enable you to thrive both personally and professionally (no hard choices, both can flourish).
Work-life sustainability recognizes that life is fluid and dynamic, and your needs and aspirations change over time. Sometimes, work might demand more of your attention, like when you’re working on exciting projects or taking on a new role. At other times, your personal life might take precedence, whether it's for family events or self-care. And that's completely okay!
By embracing work-life sustainability, you foster an environment that supports flexibility and adaptability. Taking this even further, employers can empower their workforce with flexible work hours, remote/hybrid options, and understanding that life happens. With that, employees can take responsibility for managing their time efficiently and setting boundaries to ensure they have the capacity to recharge outside of work.
The game-changer here is work-life sustainability shifts the focus from mere "time" to the quality of that time. Instead of anxiously watching the clock for the end of the workday, you can concentrate on being present and engaged in the moment, whether that moment is at work or with your loved ones. This helps you make the most of your time, promoting greater productivity and satisfaction.
Let's also remember that none of us are just employees; we’re individuals with multifaceted lives. Pursuing hobbies, spending time with loved ones, and taking care of our physical and mental wellbeing are all part of leading a fulfilling life.
I believe the phrase "work-life balance" needs to be retired, it's time to shift the conversation towards work-life sustainability. Embracing this concept acknowledges the natural ebb and flow of life, promotes wellbeing, and encourages a harmonious integration of our personal and professional worlds. So, let's bid adieu to the juggling act and welcome a more holistic approach to living our best lives in 2024.