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January 13, 2014

Still Working, or Are You Living Already? A Critical Analysis on Work-Life-Balance

Work Life Balance

Work-life-balance – the panacea of today’s stressful day-to-day routine. Especially generation Y (Young Professionals) expects from their employers to reconcile job and private life. This expectation is based on the apparently unquestionable fact that mixing work and leisure makes us happy. And that a compensation for our hard work is desperately needed as only the time after work makes us happy and prevents a pathological burnout. Therefore the mission is to save life from work. However, I ask myself: Don’t work and life go hand in hand? After all we would not be able to live without work. What would a world look like with an abundance of time but poor in challenges? Should we not rather improve our relationship towards our job? A critical debate on the formula:

Factor Work: Obligation or Challenge?

If we look at our relationship towards work, a rather self-contradictory fact appears: We have to work to earn a living, but then again it feels like a dreaded weight even though the general work situation improved the past 20 years. Yet, for us it seems to be worse than ever. We graduate from high school, we study what we are interested in and specialize in a field we find useful. In the end we should find ourselves in a position where we are happy and satisfied. However, the reality looks somewhat different. Anyone who is questioning the reasons behind that should ask themselves: What did I learn during my journey? When did my interests change? Did I deviate from my original path? How much was I influenced by others?

Enjoy Work and Don’t Waste Your Free Time

Some just do the work that has to be done and others try to avoid it – unintentional or completely intended. But are those without work happy? Day in, day out, doing whatever you feel like doing? Sounds tempting but at the same time very random. I personally strive for new challenges. Of course we could just challenge ourselves, but honestly: Wouldn’t we always choose the easiest way out when it gets complicated? Some pressure from outside can help us creating something new and this is exactly what our job is for. It shapes us, forms our character and makes us who we are. That is why we should enjoy working to be proud of ourselves.

A Right for Good Work Conditions

Awful work conditions can never be truly compensated. Not even the best feel-good management (fitness, massages, etc.) makes 24/7 less nerve-racking. Even if I love what I do, having no time for activities outside the office takes its toll. Nevertheless, it is becoming more and more of a trend in typical media agencies.  It does not have to be mandatory. Sleepless at the office just does not work. Coaching sessions that help coping with your dreaded work are no solution to the problem either. If the work conditions are bad we should not just accept them. If worst comes to worse a step towards change should be taken, whether it is a similar position or a completely new field. To find the perfect job you have to watch out for job offers with values and substance that you can identify with.

Reaching Your Goal

Money is not motivator number 1 anymore. Employees tend to focus more and more on a good work atmosphere, freedom of opinion and flexible work hours. We want to be involved in all processes; our job just has to create the right conditions. Creative thinking can blossom with internet-free periods; team spirit can be strengthened with events. Each employee should be able to take part in the corporate culture and no one should have to suffer horrible work conditions. To achieve the perfect work life balance both employer and employee should be content.

Conclusion

For me work and life are not different parts of my daily routine. Work is just part of my life. Therefore work-life-balance does not imply stretching out your free time as long as possible. It means listening to your needs and to make job and leisure time compatible. We need a job that we are passionate about and spend our leisure time with things that make us happy.

 

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