TED Conversations

Raheel Lakhani

Educational Technologist,

This conversation is closed.

What is your mantra for work-life balance?

If there is one share, if there isn't what would you want to try as a possibility?

Also how would that enhance not only your relationships and overall quality of life but also effectiveness of your work itself?

Share:
  • thumb
    Mar 11 2011: I have a block on my desk that says "Never get too busy making a living that you forget to make a life."

    Unfortunately, I don't have anything close to a balance yet - work is the winner 90% of the time.

    However, a trip to Israel in 2008 helped me achieve whatever balance I have now. Having put off vacations for a decade because I couldn't afford to NOT be at work (what if I miss a referral??), I finally signed up for the trip. The trip changed my life and when I got home, I realized I was better at what I do because I had new insights, I was relaxed, I was happy.

    Life experiences make you a better person and better at your job. While it may be obvious to everyone, it wasn't obvious to me then: you have to take time for vacations. This understanding alone has changed my work-life balance forever.
  • Feb 21 2011: I agree that we alone are responsible for not only ensuring our balance, but designing what that looks like for us as individuals. My idea of balance is probably not yours, and certainly it's not the responsibility of corporations to figure it out. I think that Rewards (fancy vacations, second homes, sports cars, etc) can get confused with Balance/Peace (feeling like all of your dimensions of being human are being addressed on a somewhat regular basis). I find that setting some goals on at least an annual basis about how you want to design life balance provides some direction. And before that, getting really clear on what values you want to base your life around.

    My "mantra" for work-life balance is Wag, Live, Love - it's not just for dogs. We get so caught up in Doing all the time, that we don't give enough attention to simple practices that can cultivate happiness and positivity on a consistent basis. Agree with Nigel that simple things like walking the dogs, listening to inspiring music, or cooking a beautiful meal are the building blocks for a satisfying life. Happiness is available right here and right now - not after retirement, not when you meet the right person, not when your career takes off. We just have to choose it and practice it until we master it.
  • Mar 2 2011: I like to say that it's life-work balance. I choose to leave work at the end of the day - no one will die if I turn off all of the gadgets, if I don't check email, if I decide not to be reachable by anyone other than my family and close firneds. No one can prevent you from finding balance except YOU.
  • thumb
    Feb 18 2011: Balance? Never. If work equals life then life is losing. On the other hand, find a job you love and you'll never work another day in your life. Do what you like but like what you do.
  • thumb
    Mar 11 2011: Step one to achieving work-life balance is: knowing what makes you happy. Most people don't. They know what is _supposed_ to make them happy and they think they know what makes the people around them happy, but somewhere along the way they've lost touch with what actually makes them happy.

    Once you know what makes you happy, you can make informed choices. Even with obligations and duties there are usually multiple ways they can be achieved - and picking the mode or place or companions that will be in alignment with what does make you happy is possible.

    It also is the first step in freeing yourself from what doesn't make you happy - the things, people, and tasks in your life that drain you of energy and the things, people, and tasks in your life that simply bring no pleasure in and of themselves.
  • thumb
    Feb 26 2011: I've spent the last three months working through about my "wlb mantra". I recently dissolved a company, where I was a partner and CEO and my own personal company has been on ice for the last three years. I'm practically unemployed, soon 40 and somewhat over-weight. Nigel’s book is a nice read for me at the moment. Instead of jumping right back into the work force, I decided to chill for some months, take time to do things that I have not had time for in the past 12 yrs and evaluate my “sorry state”. My conclusion so far re. the wlb mantra, is that work is fine, but gives only partial fulfillment. Before I defined myself by my job, however now days I don’t believe my career path matters so much, as long as I'm doing something with my life that has meaning. Raising a healthy family has tremendous value and meaning, for my family, myself and for society. Being a support to my wife, friends, family, neighbor, or Joe-Blow on the street corner has meaning. I think that when one boils everything down, life is about relationships, not about ourselves and how much we accomplished for ourselves, but what we experience with other people and contribute to their lives. So my conclusion is that even when I am working 14 hr days, when I can see that my actions and attitude towards others is a positive contribution to their lives, whether it be the gal at the coffee shop, a secretary, my clients or the obnoxious jerk in the cue, then I feel a work-life balance and can even thrive in the rat race. However, for me to accomplish this on a regular basis I have to maintain a core relationship with my Creator, otherwise I fall flat.
    • thumb
      Mar 4 2011: This comes as such a relief. One does not only contribute through co-called work, a person can be productive otherwise as well :)
  • thumb
    Feb 18 2011: As a young person, I look to my future often. I spend my days in college going to classes and learning as much as I can through simply "living life." However, lately, I have begun to see a trend growing among my peers. A collective dissatisfaction with how we value success. What are we striving towards?

    Why should we work our entire lives? Regardless if you attach a religious element to it, why spend your one valuable life on earth working away when there is so much to experience and love?

    Our materialistic world brainwashes us and makes money the end all be all in our lives. Might I ask, why? Maybe it's time we slow down and enjoy our the simple things in life. Ultimately, you have to make a decision. Either keep up with the pace of competition and always find yourself at work OR take a back seat and understand there are more important things in life. We have to be courageous enough to leave behind our materialistic, competitive nature and focus on our more limited resource; time.

    -Dan

    www.danfonseca.wordpress.com
    www.twitter.com/whoisdanfonseca
    • Mar 13 2011: I agree with your ideas.

      I also think that many people (including me) are afraid to stop working or decrease their work engagements because we don't know how long we will live. Will we have enough money to pay rent when we will be 90 years old? Help our children when needed? What if we get sick and who will pay even the basic bills like food and heating? Should we rely that my government will help?

      I am looking at a way I can decrease my work from 5 to 4 days but still keep some decent prospect of working and saving money.

      What are you thoughts on this?
  • thumb
    Mar 14 2011: I work to live, I don't live to work.

    That said, a good job can add meaning and a sense of accomplishment and contribution for the better in ones life.
  • Mar 14 2011: Everyone's work-life balance is different. For me, I strive to remain independent, doing what I love. Doing the things I love changes, during the course of a lifetime, and I gladly go with it. Working for one's self is difficult at times but the stability may be the cost of a happier balanced life.

    Strive to do what you love and the hours of working melt away and time is redefined into pure pleasure, not work.

    Hollis
  • thumb
    Mar 12 2011: I personally do not like to separate both these aspects. Maybe thats because I am very young and I really don't have a lot of responsibilities at work and at home.

    But for me right now, life includes everything I do. Be it sitting in front of a computer slogging for hours or having long conversations with my parents on the dining table. The 'mantra' is simply not to separate professional and personal lives.

    Very subjective question though.. what works for someone might never work for another.
  • thumb
    Mar 12 2011: Do the grunt work but work smart, all the while staying vigilant for those opportunities to express with humility your unique profeciiency.

    Give back.

    If you tend to procrastinate make sure your hobby is productive.

    Live the life you love so you can love the life you live.
  • thumb
    Mar 11 2011: What works for me is to contantly remind myself that I work to live and not the other way round. I suppose, for me, it puts the work reward relationship in the right perspective. I work fine, and life is Ok too.
  • thumb
    Mar 11 2011: Managing a busy life, full of family and work and community service, is like spinning plates. Sometimes, when focused on one plate (project), another will crash to the floor. I've learned to get over it, clean up and get spinning again.
  • Mar 11 2011: Do what you love and your work will be your play. Or, as Joseph Campbell put it, "Follow your bliss."
  • Mar 11 2011: Eatsleepeatsleepworksleepohmmmmeatworksleepwork life ohmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm
  • Mar 11 2011: I think that it is perfectly possible to have a balanced life - fisical, mental and spiritual. It depends on your capacity and decition on have your life balanced.
    There is enough time to do everything you want during a week. We spewnd most of the time working. It is natural because it is necessary for your survival and allow you to have time and buy other things that you want and to do what makes you happy like play tennis with your friends or simply stay chating in a bar.
    It is fundamental that you have time for your spiritual development and for making you morally better. This is what you really acquire and is your like your intelectual development. No one can take out of you. It belongs you.
    The money and material things that you have can be easily take out of you by others and then all of these things are not really yours. This is why it is an ilusion when you run after money to acquire things. This is why you hav to spend less time to work just to add more money in your pocket.
    Based on these considerations I believe it is easyer to balance your life with less stress and been happy withy your famiyle.
  • Feb 24 2011: I think the real problem is the rat race. The get as much money as you can before you die. The impress your neighbours who don't give a fuck anyways...

    You don't need to live 2 hours from the office. You CAN live in a smaller home. You can quit your job and move to the country. You HAVE control over your life.

    If you don't like it STOP doing it.

    Now I need to learn to do this, and it will all be better. And it starts NOW!
    • thumb
      Mar 4 2011: I believe more than quitting, trying something which does not stress the hell out of it and also is fulfilling and meaningful.
  • thumb
    Feb 20 2011: I'm in the fortunate situation that Michael posted about, I'm only 19, yet I'm in a job I love, as my own boss, where my colleagues are my closest friends and mentors, however, I think it's impossible for, say, a large corporation such as Microsoft, for example, to enable a perfect Work-Life balance for their employee's...even if their employee's are currently in their dream job, everyone's preference to Work-Life balance varies enormously, for some people, the perfect work-life balance would be;
    Wake up, eat breakfast, go to work at 8am, leave work at 7pm, go to the pub, go to bed.

    Whereas someone who is a single, young, Mother, would prefer;
    Wake up, eat breakfast, get their child ready for school, take their child to school at 9am, go to work/college/university at 9:30am, leave work/college/university at 2:30pm, pick their child up from school at 3pm, partake in different activities with their child for the rest of the day (Games, reading etc.)

    When society is as diverse, and as different as ours is today, I believe the perfect Work-Life balance is difficult to achieve, unless you're self-employed and are your own boss.
    • Mar 13 2011: What if companies would give people the option to work from home or work only 4 days a week ? That should be possible in today's world infrastructure?