Saturday, April 3, 2010

work/life balance

I had a recent conversation with a friend of mine who just went back to the Philippines for a 2-week visit. Now this friend is a highly intelligent, high-achieving, yet personable and fun-loving person. If there's someone you want who can get the job done (and more), she's your go-to gal. This girl can really WORK.

She talked about how laid-back the culture is back home. How our people know how to have fun (heck, we are the nation whose people can sing and dance at a citizen-organized revolution to impeach a president).

This is what I love about our culture. People know that family comes first. Work can be left in the office. After that, time is spent with family and friends. It's about family and relationships. After leaving the workplace, time is spent relaxing, doing leisure activities, whether at home or elsewhere.

But perhaps my view of life in my home country is skewed now. My parents are retired and enjoying life to the fullest, travelling like crazy, exercising, taking naps, and most of all, taking care of themselves. So I know my parents, by virtue of the life stage they are in, are not "representative" of the average person living there. But even people my age back home, who are building careers, seem to know the meaning of leisure and rest. And know where to draw the line between work and personal time.

In my conversation with that friend of mine, we realized how different life is here. I've lived here for almost 7 years, she for longer than that. We talked about how our work becomes our life. And no wonder we're under stress. "Duh". It's not rocket science.

How do we value our work? Work can be "just" work, or work can be a passion. Whether it's teaching children, balancing accounts, designing a product, or whatever it is you are committed to. When we love what we do, we pour all our energy into it. But ideally, we also have to allow ourselves to rest, so that we can greet the next day and continue our work with renewed energy. We owe that to our work, but more importantly, we owe that to ourselves. The fact that I say ideally is ironic, because shouldn't periods of rest be a given and not an ideal? But in this current economy, for many people it's not enough to just call it a day at 5 pm.

Is work a means to an end or an end in itself? We say we work the way we do to improve our quality of life.  And by quality of life, I mean work-life balance... I mean physical, mental, social, and emotional health. Does working the way we do increase the chances of having a better quality of life? What does it mean to have a strong work ethic AND work-life balance at the same time?

I'll have to ponder on those thoughts for a while. In the meantime, I'm going to take a break, take deep breaths, and practice some downward dogs and child's pose.

Then I'll have to get back to work.

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Anne said...

love your post mia! this is exactly what i was reflecting on yesterday. how to find a work-life balance!

i agree with what you wrote about how leisure time and rest should be a given, not an ideal. i had a thought that to be able to relax, i have to go on vacation! but who can afford to do that regularly?!

Mia said...

Thanks for your comment Anne! I know, it would be great to go on vacation whenever we want... but since that's not possible we can always do a "staycation". :)

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