"There is no such thing as work-life balance. Everything worth fighting for unbalances your life." -- Alain de Botton
This harsh yet accurate sentiment by Alain De Botton is the perfect portrayal of many of our lives. Ever since the dawn of the Information Age, segregation of work and personal lives has become a thing of the past, not because of the ubiquity of email, rather, the separation of the two seem impossible. From the perspective of a baby-boomer, the nature with which we conduct business nowadays has changed beyond recognition, and we are partially to blame for this work-life merge.
The need to stay constantly connected is rapidly on the rise, as individuals not only run the risk of losing business, but also need to maintain the working relationships they've formed. Late night Skype calls, emails, texting and social media connections are continuously being accessed, reviewed and updated. Work hours are creeping well past conventional daytime hours along with other activities such as eating, cleaning, socializing and taking care of the kids which are all intertwined, often quite seamlessly. When was the last time you went out for lunch without checking your phone at least a few times during the meal?
The standard operating procedures of most Fortune 500 and emerging companies alike are that of finding synergy. This endeavor involves collaboration between professionals across multiple time zones, effectively creating a vicious cycle of juggling multiple high profile tasks, and for those who aren't used to it, they can invite stress related health issues upon themselves. It all comes down to the coping mechanisms, how well one handles the stress of this new emerging norm.
Not that work-life merge is a bad thing; it is somewhat of an unorthodox lifestyle that brings along with it its many work related and personal issues.
There are those that have mastered the work-life merge in a way that has almost become second nature to them. However, it doesn't have to impact one directly for them to notice its effects, as the collateral damage it can cause to those who cannot embrace it, is a significant risk. This constant "always ready to work" mindset may prove to be stressful for some, but this self-imposed and socially encouraged way of living can be harnessed in a positive manner as well.
Those who have the composure and resolve to maintain the perfect blend of work and life are the ones fueling this rapid change that we've all come to witness. The need to stay in contact, throughout the day, across multiple mediums, not to mention instantaneously, has caused the eruption of mobile platforms that support cross platform compatibility, essentially enabling individuals to connect, create and share at anytime, from anywhere.
Industry leaders and productive businessmen are no longer the ones gunning for a work life balance -- apparently that was a myth touted sometime ago, causing overbooked calendars in efforts to have it all "planned out."
Early in 2014, the global co-head of investment banking at Goldman Sachs, David Solomon said, "Technology means that we're all available 24/7. And, because everyone demands instant gratification and instant connectivity, there are no boundaries, no breaks."
As the British CEO of Dixons, Katie Bickerstaffe recently said, "I love what I do, but I also love my family. I don't think there's any reason you can't do both. You just have to make sure you marshal your resources and yourself."
So if you don't design your own life plan and schedule, chances are you'll fall into someone else's blueprint and their rhythm may differ tremendously from yours, causing both immediate and long-term damage.
Work-life merge can be chaotic, frantic and tiring however with proper planning, delegation and realistic expectations, it's achievable. And as we are busy making a living, let's not forget the importance of living meaningfully.
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