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Balancing Act: Nurturing Work-Life Harmony

A very warm welcome to our very first SOAR:take flight and lead article! Our fortnightly space where we will be diving deep on a different topic every two weeks. We are going to be writing about the key areas that matter to you and that tie in to the transformation that SOAR can support you to create. And we are going to start this time with what is always a key challenge for the women we speak to – work-life harmony. So let’s dive in!

Now I’m sure you’ve noticed that we’re using the term work-life harmony instead of balance – more on that shortly – but let’s start with why it matters so much.

A recent study in the Journal of Applied Psychology found that not only do employees who report higher work-life balance experience less burnout and greater job satisfaction, but also that better work-life balance is the key to more effective leadership. Put simply, when we can create better balance for ourselves, we do better and we lead better. The research found that leaders need space to recover from the pressures and juggling of their leadership role. When they can leave work at work and switch off at the end of each day, they feel more energised the next morning and their teams report them as being more effective leaders, but on nights when they end up spending time thinking negatively about work the opposite happened – they felt less energised and their teams felt they were less effective.

It sounds pretty obvious, doesn’t it? So what can we do about it? Well, let’s first look at this idea of work-life harmony.

What does the word ‘balance’ bring to mind for you? For Jen, it reminds her of the time she injured her ankle ligaments and my physiotherapist gave me a wobble board as part of my recovery. Now if you’ve never tried a wobble board, they are very simple, you stand on them and try to balance. And it is HARD work! All of the muscles in your feet, ankles and lower legs work over time trying to find that sweet spot where everything stays still. 

Balancing perfectly is hard.

Which is why we prefer the term work-life harmony.

There is no one perfect version of work-life balance. There is instead a version of life which allows you to feel like you are able at any point in time to find a sense of harmony between work and home. This has a sense of flow to it, that if there is a key priority in one area or the other, then you can allow yourself to focus on that and adjust as needed without feeling like anything is going to break in the process. It is feeling like you can move between work and home life easily and effortlessly and get all that you need from both of them.

So how do we achieve that?

There are many components to creating this sense of work-life harmony but we think there are 3 key areas to focus on that can have the biggest impact:

  1. Boundaries – Healthy boundaries are firm but flexible. Be clear on what matters to you, what you are prepared (or not) to accept and have approaches to managing them that you feel confident in implementing.

  2. Support – Having a strong support network can be a game changer in making sure that you can create harmony. Managing key dependencies at work so your team can support each other and you? Emergency childcare easily available? Friends who can be a listening ear and cheerleader when needed? Having any and all of these in place before you need them can mean that when you do need them, that sense of harmony doesn’t need to be broken down.

  3. Knowing your Needs – When you know what you need to keep yourself able to operate well both at work and at home then you can see where to start to ensure you’re bringing that effective, energised self to all that you do. These can become your topmost key priorities for ensuring that you can bring the best of you when you need it and find your way back to your best when things get out of hand.

With those in mind, what could be your first steps to creating more work-life harmony? Is it to identify the key boundaries that are being overstepped and firm these up? Is it building that support network by asking for help from key individuals? Or is it recognising that meeting your needs is not happening right now and looking at how you can improve that? Feel free to hit reply and let us know what resonates here and what steps you will be taking to move forward.


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