Our work plays a huge and essential role in our lives. We spend between 40-50 hours of the week pouring ourselves into our work not only because it provides our bread-and-butter but also because it adds meaning to our lives. While some believe that a profession gives us a sense of identity, we think it’s fairer to say that how we approach our work gives us an identity instead.
How much should we invest in our work is a question you’re bound to come across at some point in your career. No one answers this question better than the renowned philosopher and author Kahlil Gibran, who said,
“Work is love made visible. And if you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy. For if you bake bread with indifference, you bake a bitter bread that feeds but half man's hunger”.
Sadly this is not true to all of us, while some of us do the work we are most passionate about, the rest do it out of obligation to pay bills or out of complacency which will eventually eat you up from the inside and affects your personality and your overall view of life. A career or profession that you invest your complete self in will rarely count as stressful and will provide you with the kind of joy and satisfaction that even love can’t compare to.
In order to succeed in finding the right work/life balance, not only do we need to find a career that we are passionate about that is also financially viable but we also need a set of skills that will help us maintain this balance. Here are some skills to keep an eye on:
Learning to prioritise: an important skill that will come handy at work and other aspects of life
Improving negotiating skills: this varies from learning to bargain for more time and helps in prioritising tasks
Learning to say no when your plate is full
Being assertive: this will not only give you credibility as well as earn respect from your peers and supervisors
Developing interests apart from work such as sports and hobbies
Letting go of negative coping skills: these vary from depending on colleagues for constant support, alcohol and substance abuse when you can’t cope with work or life stress
Avoid escapism: Using work to escape/avoid problems such as turning into a workaholic
If you’re confused or unsure about how you feel about your work, work environment or life in general, ask yourself these question to help you navigate your thoughts and emotions.
1. What am I feeling? What am I going through?
2. Why am I feeling this way?
3. What can I do about this?
4. What little things can make it easier?
By answering these questions with complete honesty, you will start to have a clearer idea of your current situation and what you need to do in order to change it if you’re unhappy or maintain it if you think you have found a balance.
Some tips to follow to improve your work relationship:
Understand the importance of doing something that makes you happy
Figuring out your working style and rhythm
Use ‘I’ language instead of ‘you’ language, which shows responsibility instead of blame
Learn to sandwich criticism with positive feedback and compliments which will go a long way in difficult situations
Take breaks from work, people and your phone every few hours during the course of the day