Avoiding the Work Life Battle
Finding a compromise between work and life can feel like a constant battle. The two compete for your time and energy, fighting it out each week, with one coming out on top, only for the scoreboard to be reset when Monday morning comes around again. It often feels like a never-ending struggle of having to put one ahead of the other, sacrificing this to compensate for that. But do we really have to prioritise one or the other, or can they fit together in unison?
Work is not a contrast to life. Working hard is necessary to achieve our goals in life, and our jobs are central to our routine, taking up a large chunk of our week, and often forming a part of our social lives away from the office. This is why we study for years in areas we hope will introduce us to jobs we can thrive in and enjoy, and why, inevitably, our happiness in our work has a big say in our happiness in general.
However, although our minds composition is such that it can work for a long time, if we push ourselves too hard in our working lives, we become burnt out, overwhelmed and exhausted, leaving us no good to anyone, including ourselves. As such, although it’s easy to talk about a work life balance as two things sitting on the opposite end of a see-saw, we are actually better off when the two come together, intertwine and complement each other.
Millennial's, more than any generation before, are willing to define themselves by what they do. They don’t necessarily want to leave their jobs behind when they leave the office each evening. They want their work to be a positive part of their life.
This idea is pertinent amongst millennial’s, who, more so than any generation before them, are willing to define themselves by what they do for a living. They don’t necessarily want to leave their jobs behind when they leave the office each evening. They want work to be a positive part of their life, not a constant struggle against it. Their ambitions in the workplace are more personal. In the past professional ambition and success was seen as a rise through the ranks, becoming a manager, having fewer and fewer people working above you and more people working for you, but things are not as clear cut today. Millennial’s want to thrive and be rewarded for what they’re good at, and as a result some companies are trying to change the tracks available in front of employees, paving the way for new opportunities for progression.
The work life battle is a global issue. Sweden is considered to have a national obsession with healthy work life habits, and in several areas employ a six hour working day, hoping that more settled, happier employees will make for better results. Spain too is making changes. The country is considering getting rid of its famous siestas in order to reduce the working day, so that working life can become more in-sync with things like childcare and travel; again trying to ensure that work and life are not in constant, daily battle.
Employers and businesses are taking note. Being part of an organisation, such as South West College, that focuses on the wellbeing of staff and students is a major benefit in the fast paced society we live in. Taking time to reconsider our working pattern when children come along, having flexibility with start and finish times when elderly parents need our care and support, getting money off childcare, or when buying a laptop, iPad, bicycle or mobile phone, show a supportive employer that cares about her employees. Creating a culture where it is OK to ask for help, see a counsellor when times get tough, have a chat with a colleague on a “Fruity Friday” in the tea room, reinforces the commitment the College makes to being a great place to work.
South West College is proud to work this way, but we as individuals must understand that ultimately we are responsible for our own happiness. We need to put our hand up and ask for help when required, let perfectionism go, work together as a team and prioritise what is important, so that we can in turn become happier, more sociable people.