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E-Quipped to... Acknowledge the “Work-Life Balance” Myth
It’s a new year and I hear so many people saying that this year they want a “better work-life balance”. Actually they said the same thing last year… and the year before that!
“Work-Life Balance” is an interesting phrase because it implies that work is separate from life. It also implies that we can actually balance the two. But think about it… on the one side of the scale there is work, sitting all on its own, and on the other side of the scale there is the physical, mental, spiritual, environmental, interpersonal and intrapersonal aspects of life which all get lumped together. The imbalance is obvious – one aspect of life versus so many aspects - and yet we still attempt to give an equal amount of time to both sides.
Image by: John (on Flickr)
The idea of getting the “work-life balance” right is the old traditional linear way of thinking, but it’s a myth. It can’t be done and striving for it just sets us up for failure.
“If you keep on doing what you’ve always done,
What we need is a new way of thinking.
Systems Theory offers us that new way of thinking. Systems theory offers us a circular way of looking at things. Rather than thinking about work versus life, it suggests we think about work and all the different aspects of our lives - and how they constantly inter-relate with each other.
Systems Theory tells us that every aspect of our lives is connected to every other aspect of our lives. Ignore one aspect and it will affect all the other aspects. For example, when a person neglects their medical health check-ups because they are too busy at work, they miss the opportunity to pick up early signs of illness. By the time they do pick it up, the illness is serious and it affects their occupation, finances, social lives, mental health and so on.
So rather than thinking about how much time we spend on work versus the other aspects of our lives, we should rather think about what we are including or integrating in our lifestyle. Are we integrating all the things that are important and necessary for our health and wellbeing? If we are, then we will be living a life that is meaningful and leads to optimal health and wellbeing. If we are not, we will merely be filling our days with frantic busy-ness, on a path towards meaninglessness, and physical and mental illness.
So what are the different aspects of our lives that we should be integrating? And how can we integrate all of them to ensure our optimal physical and mental wellbeing?
There are a few tools that can help us to think about and ultimately create this new integrated lifestyle for ourselves and in this E-Quipped newsletter I will give you two of them. More tools will follow in future newsletters.
The Wheel of Wellbeing
The Wheel of Wellbeing is based on Systems Theory and is a useful tool to help us think about life in a circular rather than a linear way.
The Wheel of Wellbeing breaks the different aspects of our lives into eight different categories and helps us to see that all the parts of our lives are linked to each other. When we plot our wellbeing on the wheel we can see at a glance which aspects we are including in our lives and which aspects we are neglecting.
Ideally you want a big, round ‘circle’. The bigger and more round the shape is, the greater your general wellbeing. The smaller and/or spikier your shape is, the lower your general wellbeing.
Think of it as a wheel travelling the road of your life. If you have a big, round wheel the journey will be smooth and small potholes in the road will not be felt as you travel right over them. But if it is a small and/or odd shaped wheel, then the journey will be bumpy and uncomfortable and you will feel every small pothole. Indeed if your wheel is small or irregular enough you may even get trapped in some of the potholes.
So focus your attention on growing YOUR wheel of wellbeing into a big, smooth round wheel. The following story may inspire you to do this.
The Story of the Rocks, Pebbles and Sand
This little story is a metaphor for life and illustrates that we should take care of the most important things in life first – the things that really matter and are critical to our long-term wellbeing and happiness. If you deal with the most important things first, the less important things can still fall into place, however, the reverse is not true.
You can read the story here: The Story of the Rocks, Pebbles and Sand
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You may have been forwarded this email by a friend. In that case, allow me to introduce myself. I am a psychologist, speaker, trainer, coach and hat lover based in Kloof, a suburb of Durban, South Africa. I also do online counselling and coaching and I have clients all over the world.
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