Although the concept of ‘work/life balance’ has gained popularity over the years, I think it’s time to add more nuance to the idea. The phrase seems to imply that there are just two elements to our time on Earth, but we all know it’s far more complicated than that. Whether we work or not, our lives comprise a set of circumstances that, ideally, we would like to manage harmoniously. Maybe that’s idealistic, but we can give it a go, starting by identifying the issues.
We all have a basic physical need for food and shelter (hence the ‘work’), but for optimal health and happiness, we also need equilibrium between body and mind, though too often we focus on the one at the expense of the other! Identifying our physical needs is relatively easy – we get hungry, we feel cold, we experience pain – but when it comes to pinning down our psychological needs, the symptoms of neglect are not so obvious. Researchers* have come up with a framework to help classify those needs so that we may more easily assess how well we are addressing them in our quest for a harmonious life. They have come up with half a dozen headings.
A list such as this will be helpful to those who feel that they have been drawn off-course and one or more of the elements in their lives has come to dominate their time, through necessity, false reckoning or habitual default. In such a case it can be useful to do an audit by keeping a journal of how time is spent, thereby identifying which issues are dominating and why. The task of keeping all the elements in harmony certainly can be daunting but the process is illuminating – and the prize is well worth reaching for.
*David Newman, Louis Tay & Ed Diener.
By Rachel Ward Lilley. Rachel is a business and educational psychologist. She has worked for many years advising SMEs and her current work relates to issues of resilience, communication, personal development, team building and motivation. Over the past 12 years Rachel has extended her work into the educational field. Find out more here.
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