On seeking the elusive work-life balance
For years I worked in roles that I knew weren’t my calling. But hey, the bills have got to be paid. To keep myself motivated, I made tasks for each day and taught myself new things, finding solutions where there were thought to be none. I pushed myself to find meaning in everything I did, and if I couldn’t find it in my work, I definitely found it in whatever else I threw myself headfirst into. It has been rare for me to only have one job, aside from being terrible with money, I love having additional opportunities to learn from diverse experiences.
Now that I have begun the career I studied five years for, it’s harder to maintain a sense of what I’m about outside of work. When I see old friends and extended family, they all want a sanitised version of what my role entails, and I often find myself in long-winded sociological debates about what is wrong with the world these days. The line between what I do for 40 hours of the week and who I am is becoming increasingly blurred. And then there’s that narrative that we are supposed to keep a ‘work/life balance’. Whatever that means.
What I’m slowly learning is that I don’t like having a work self and a home self, but that doesn’t mean there can’t be any boundaries. It seems inevitable that as technology keeps us connected indefinitely, being tethered to our devices has the negative consequence of never being offline or clocked out of work. The ability to check your work emails at all times, or being contacted on your day off can really take its toll. There was a point in my life where I would plan my day around the possibility of being called into work. Being unable to have any separation is not healthy, nor is it sustainable.
I’m tired of hearing the stories about people who quit their day job, and now work remotely from a poolside in Bali or found their passion as a fulltime cupcake decorator. Surely that is not the answer for all of us, there has to be a large number of us stuck in the humdrum of fulltime work for society to function as it does.
My job is still not thrilling every day and it’s not glamorous – I’ve got notes to write and things to be filed, just like everyone else who has a desk. Now that I’ve found a job that has a purpose that aligns more with my values, it’s been hard to reconcile the idea that having this job didn’t translate to complete life satisfaction.
So, whether you’re in a job you love, one you hate, or in some purgatory in between, it’s important to find and cultivate things that make your heart feel full.
Things I’m working on to keep the balance:
- Turning my work phone off after hours.
- Taking my lunch break and ideally getting outside.
- Bringing my whole self to work. I work with an incredible bunch of people, and the richness they bring every day inspires me to do the same. I used to feel that in order to keep balance, I had to separate who I was, but I’ve learnt there is power in authenticity.
- Setting goals that require the discipline to not take work home with me, for example I’ve started making mobility goals at the gym. This requires me to finish work on time and get myself to the gym with a clear mind.
- Practicing redirecting conversations about work with my loved ones, as much as I like talking about what I’m passionate about, I’d much rather hear about what is going on in their lives.
- Making time to create. I notice that when I consume too much, whether it be art, social media, books or music, without having any output, everything feels off balance.
Chanelle is a vegan, amateur athlete, social advocate, environmental enthusiast and blogger at mynameischanelle.com.