Work/life balance is pointless without reflection and values

work life balance

Sometimes I feel a disconnect between my personal and professional lives and no, not in a work/life balance way. The conversation on work/life balance tends to ignore the importance of introspection and focuses on time and space. Flexible hours are certainly beneficial, but what do they have to do with how I interact with people? How I value relationships? How I view the importance of my work? How I view work period?

Given the fact that most of us experience a work/life blurr, I think we need to shift from focusing on benefits and organizational structure to ensuring that we are living out our values in both spaces. Of course, different environments call for different behaviors-I cant talk to my mom the way I talk to my boss. Yet when it comes to leadership and growth I am uneasy with the idea of there being a Work Allison and a Home Allison especially when the spheres arent always so separate.

A few months ago, inspired by the Happiness Project I began reflecting on my personal commandments: overarching principles that guide my actions and thoughts. While these are things that I have been working on deliberately for months, the beginning of the new year is the perfect time to write them down, share, and invite others to share their journey as well. Here are my personal commandments that I live by at work and at home. Feel free to share yours.

1. Speak up: My tenth grade teacher, my mom, a fellow board member, and my supervisor have all said this to me: You have to speak up. I may know the right answer, have a great idea, or be doing awesome work but it makes no difference if no one knows about it. I’ve always taken pride in execution: I like getting the job done. However mistakes can be avoided and praise can be given if I share what I’m doing with others.

Speaking up goes beyond notifying others; it is also a form of setting boundaries and trusting myself. I need to let people know my thoughts, good and bad, especially if certain actions may help or hurt me.

2. Trust my instincts: My instincts are usually dead-on, yet I tend to doubt myself, and as a result dont act on them. Having good instincts comes from experience and reflection but if I dont act on them I wont refine them or learn to trust myself.

3. Do it now: I have been AMAZED at how much more time I have and how much easier projects are to manage when I sit my ass down and work. Yes, leaving things to the last minute has not resulted in anything tragic and part of me still smiles at those times when I wrote a paper in college right before it was due and still got an A. But when I look closely, I had to spend stressful hours working instead putting finishing touches on things and moving on to the next project (or, taking a nap).

4. Write now: I am a writer at heart. Always have been. The fun story my family likes to tell is how when I was in junior high I was set on going to Columbia University to study journalism, then heading to Oxford to study some more and launch a magazine that would make me oh so famous (if there was a TV show that has this kind of conversation happening, please let me know. I have no idea where I got such a detailed dream from at the ripe old age of 12). Instead of putting off writing, I make time for it, expose myself to different types of writing, in addition to writing when it the mood strikes me.

5. Own my expertise: Back to number 1-the not speaking up thing is also a result of my not trusting myself. What do I know? More than I give myself credit for. And there is a way to speak knowledgeably while still remaining open to learning and new ideas. Expert does not mean complete and being able to present and share information effectively is just as important as having the information in the first place.

6. Show up: ::sigh:: I need to get out more. I never regret it when I do.

7. Let go: Some things just werent meant to be. Learning what to pursue and what to let pass or whom to hold on to and whom I should forget is hard. Focusing on what I dont have or too much fuss over what is bringing me down does not allow me to appreciate my blessings.

8. Demonstrate love: Yes, I will bake you cookies just because. Sure, I will pick up a book for you that reminded me of that silly joke we made two summers ago. Absolutely, I will call you and have nothing more to say than “how are you?” and listen. I love you, value you, and appreciate you-I want to show it beyond words.

9. Assume the best: The anger I feel when something goes wrong is often the result of assuming the worst. I assume that the package was sent late because someone was lazy not because that person had an emergency or that I ::gasp:: made mistake. Assuming the worst allows me to dwell on the problem, while assuming the best encourages me to think more creatively: ok this didnt go according to plan, what’s next?

10. Cry and move on: I am a cryer. I like to cry. I feel good when I cry and I denied this for so long. I’m not weak! I’m strong! Oh please. Crying is not a sign of weakness; it is a sign of being human.

What are your commandments? How do they affect your work and life?

Thanks to Akhila for encouraging me to be more personal in my posts :)

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