The buzzwords of Work-Life balance get thrown around all the time – something that we are all searching for – like the Holy Grail! The elusive “state of being” but do we really know what that looks like for us?
I know from talking to people, defining it usually doesn’t come up in the conversation. When you think about it, it would actually be different for each person, so knowing what you want that balance to look like is the first step in achieving it.
For me, first off, I want to define it as Life-Work Balance to put the emphasis on Life or Living. To be honest, I’ve never really defined it myself. I once read something in my dear friend Jill’s yoga studio by a master teacher that said something to the effect of “when work is play and play is work, then you have mastered the balance”. I think for me that is partly true, but ultimately, my idea of play has nothing to with being on a computer, so although I enjoy writing and creating blogs such as this, this is not playing, it is work.
My husband and I were in Italy recently and decided to rent a scooter for a day or two. When we finally found a place – the only one in about 50km radius of where we were staying, it was closed as indicated by the sign shown here. When it did open, we were disappointed to learn that, for reasons our limited Italian did not allow us to understand (something to do with the weather we thought) none were available to rent for the rest of the week. But you’ll note the standard hours of operation – every day closed between 12:30 and 2:30 p.m. for their long lunch. In my world of coaching clients, rest and digest is the standard saying to improve people’s digestion. This long lunch would certainly allow for that and focus on Life-Work Balance: with the focus on Life, and health.
Italy is also the originating country of the Slow Food Movement: to focus on food and the preparation of meals as a time for family and friends to gather, to share company and conversations, to learn food preparation and cooking techniques that are getting lost from one generation to the next. Restaurants that we went to on our trip still embrace the three hours sitting for meals and nothing is rushed in a good restaurant. Even our favourite Foccaceria’s and “fast food” meal stops, had the freshest of food prepared from scratch. I love that these trends have been embraced by so many in the food industry in North America, notably in the last 5 years. I still feel we have a long way to go to embrace this at home and with Families. When companies allow more work from home to cut down on people’s commutes, the workday may be set to 6 instead of 8 hours and 6-8 weeks of vacation become the norm (as most European countries have), then perhaps overall, more people in North America will feel they are able to actually experience that elusive Life-Work balance and feel like they are really Healthy Living!
As we move into September and typically a very busy time of year for most people, I encourage you to think about what Life-Work Balance is for you and a few small steps you can begin to take to achieve it.