‘Work – life Balance Cont’d’

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26th September, 2023

What does work-life balance actually mean?

Ask five different people, and you’ll get five different answers.

None of us want to become slaves to our work. We want to live our lives to the fullest, and we like to think that if we seek “balance,” we will find peace, contentment and perhaps even joy.

While work and life are distinct, people tend to forget that work is simply part of life. It’s not like our careers exist in some strange liminal space, trapped in the ether. How we spend our time each day is our life, whether we like it or not.

And while work can sometimes feel soulless, it doesn’t have to. No matter what you do, whether it is building things, selling things or helping people, your career can be an enriching part of your human experience.

I’ve found that the trick is to commit to whatever you do. Half measures create ambiguity, and ambiguity makes people uncomfortable

If you want to quit your job, then quit. If you don’t want to quit, then decide to go all in and get good at what you do.

When people focus on work-life balance, they also run the risk of settling for less. Remember, the goal of life is not to balance pain (work) and pleasure (life).

The right career can be something far greater than a way to make money, forge connections or occupy your time. When done right, work creates life, not the other way around.

K.V. Kamath, then the Chairman of ICICI Bank, while addressing a gathering of industry leaders in Mumbai was in a panel discussion along with two professors from Harvard Business School, and he just brushed aside the idea of work–life balance.

He said it was a nice ideal, but not something he’d recommend to a young high-performance manager.

“You need to focus on work,” he said, “Slog, make an impact, sweat it out, work harder to meet business goals and life will take care of itself, and then, hopefully you will find the magical work–life balance.

But trying to find that balance very early in your life could mean that you miss out on both fronts. Loser at work, not much joy in life either.”

Something we would all do well to remember. To get something, you’ve got to give up something.

That’s how it will be in the beginning. After a while, if you are lucky, you will find the balance you are looking for.

Want to lose weight? You can, but you will need to say NO to your favourite sweets. Once you sacrifice the sweets and get your weight under control, you can indulge your sweet tooth. Weight loss and Gulab jamun can then co-exist!

Want to climb the corporate ladder? Slog, work long hours, forget weekends.

As success sets in, you can start to discover the fancy holiday spots, the golf course, your daughter’s dance debut and weekends with family too.

But insisting on having both, right at the beginning, would almost certainly mean getting neither.

The problem is we want that promotion and we want to leave the office at 5.30 p.m.

We want to lose weight and we want that second helping of dessert.

It just doesn’t work that way.

Whatever your goals, go forth and work to make them come true.

And remember Mr Kamath’s words. You must be ready to pay the price!

Win some. Lose some.

My mantra is simple, ‘To get something, you’ve got to give up something.’

Make your choice and stay blessed forever.