Work-Life Balance: An Alternate Perspective

If you have a Work Mode and a Play Mode, you might want to read this.

THE PROBLEM

I’d always viewed work and life being two very separate areas requiring different sets of skills and qualities: one set for excelling in your current profession and another set for maintaining yourself and your relationships with family, friends and lovers.

It took me a long time to realize that ideas and skills MUST flow both ways.

For example, I am, by nature, an impatient person. Where’s my food? Why isn’t the bus here yet? Run faster. Don’t make me wait. Over the course of a year and a few months and for career success, I’ve trained myself to do all the things associated with patience: plan more, work more meticulously, take my time, think before I speak.

But outside of work, I remained impatient. I did not change. Most of the time, I was the same unplanning, hasty decision-maker — to the detriment of my closest relationships. I found myself becoming irritated at restaurants, waiting for service, when I should’ve enjoyed my companion and drinking wine.

THE ANALYSIS

It’s obvious in my case that the qualities that one area can help the other leans heavy on the work side… as shown in my handy-dandy infographic below:

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Who would’ve thought so much of my work personality could make my personal life better?

Some realizations following this exercise:

  1. The qualities typically reserved for your family, partners and close friends have been applied MORE to my colleagues than the people I love.
  2. The qualities I’ve nurtured in order to excel at my job and build my career are part of the generally accepted recipe for plain ol’ happiness.
  3. I must have a split personality or something.

Does it sound like your life?

THE SOLUTION

If it took me over a year to nurture all of those lovely qualities into habit for work, then I can expect it’ll take about that time to nurture them in life.

As any ladder-climber knows, one must recognize all the available resources and use them:

  1. The right people. I set up meetings with those whose management techniques I like, they provided perspective and an unbiased opinion, and a sounding board for my ideas on management and productivity.
    I have dear friends who know what I’m going through in Life and respond to texts when I start to overthink. There’s little as comforting as knowing that you aren’t alone and you aren’t crazy.
  2. Post-It notes. Little reminders stuck on notebooks, computer monitors, desks, cubicle walls and even inside drawers to re-read my email before clicking “Send,” take breaks and stay organized.
    Target carries the most adorable assortment of notebooks, notepads and signboards for precisely this purpose, that would also look amazing against my blank walls. I should spend more time in their dollar section.  (I was not paid to say that, unfortunately.)
  3. Time for reflection, reflection, reflection. Commuting on BART allows hours to think about everything I did that day… and, more importantly, what I will do the next day.
    It’s hard when I’m always exhausted, but the lapse in communication in said damaged relationships has afforded me even more time to detail everything I want to change and plan my approach the next time.
  4. The threat of failure and consequences. Who wants to work hard just to end up worse than before or to lose everything you’d worked for? In the case of my damaged relationships, I’ll never forgive myself if I gave up on something I know I could have done better.

So here’s to the next year of putting more of work into my life. Who woulda thunk that’s what I needed for balance… and happiness?

Can you relate to my Work-Life problem? How did you become as good a person at home as at work or vice-versa? Tell me in the comments!

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