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At Small Fish, we really believe in the idea of finding a harmonious Work:Life balance. Together with driving profitability, improving the Work:Life balance would be one of the most common objectives for business owners that we come across. So, what is this thing we call Work:Life balance?
“Balance” itself is an interesting word to use when describing this concept. It almost makes it sound like Work and Life are two separate things that we are trying to balance against one another on some kind of giant see-saw. But is this true?
What got me onto this was a conversation between two of my friends recently. They were discussing the topic of working during the weekends. (Yes guys, you know who you are – and I will soon know if you actually read my blog posts!!).
One of my friends had been busy working all week, and right through the weekend. The other held firm to the opinion that you need to keep your weekends free from work – and do as much of the things you really want to do on the weekend as possible. He said: “work out how many more years you think you have to live, multiply that by 52, and you will realise that actually you don’t have too many weekends left”. A sobering thought!
(Now obviously, my friends are Monday-to-Friday type of people. I realise not everyone is in that lifestyle, but the principle here applies to everyone nonetheless – so ‘non-Monday-to-Friday’ people, please read on….)
I am all for the idea of getting the work:life balance right, but there was something about this last comment that didn’t quite sit well with me (beyond the sudden brutality of pondering life’s impermanence). It took a while, but then it dawned on me.
What if you really enjoyed what you did for work? What if your work was so enjoyable, that IS all you really wanted to do?
Could this ever be the case ? Surely everyone knows that “work is so bad that’s why they have to pay people to do it!” Is it possible that work could ever be such great a thing, that you shouldn’t need to “ring fence” your weekends from it? You know – it is like those people that say “well for me it really isn’t work.
Well, despite the fact that I love what I do for work, this idea also didn’t quite sit right with me. Why? Because work is not THE only thing in my life. In fact, my life also involves other people and other responsibilities.
So, thinking it through, both of my friends had valid points. You can probably afford to sacrifice a weekend or two to work– just probably not ALL the time. Ahh, this is where the balance part comes into it.
I came to the conclusion that work is actually an element, or a subset of our lives, and that Work:Life balance is about trying to create balance between all these different elements of our lives. Also, it is a balance of the different responsibilities and expectations of the many different “roles” we play in life (think worker, parent, volunteer, etc..). Without getting too spiritual, we are trying to create harmony in our lives, of which work is, and can only ever be, just one element.
So that’s what it is all about, balance and harmony. And remember – “have some fun” while you are doing it.
If you have read this far, please feel free to respond with some comments about this post – I would be interested to get some more viewpoints on this topic. Thank you.