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Balance & Mental Wellness

Work-life Balance…

Not too long ago, a leader of an organisation shared with me that he was concerned with his organisation’s climate survey results. When I took a look at the survey results, I told him that I would not be too concerned as his organisation has fared generally well in the “leadership” domain. The only ‘red flag’ was employees’ perception of their work-life balance.


I told the leader that I would be surprised if Singaporeans today do not see work-life balance as an important aspect of their lives. Every time, I conduct a career management workshop for undergraduates, 85% of the participants would highlight work-life balance as their most important needs (out of a list of nine needs i.e. job security, intellectually challenging job etc). This coincides with The Straits Times finding on 10 July 2013 that the undergraduates’ top priority is work-life balance.


However, the term “work-life balance” is a misnomer. The opposite spectrum of “Work” is not life but “Family”. People grappling with the concept of work-life balance are actually concerned with the issue of time i.e. how they prioritise and use time with underlying tones i.e. haunted by a discomforting feeling that their time could be better used or managed.


In general, the use of time can be broadly divided into four main domains i.e. i) Work; ii) Family; iii) Personal & iv) Social. Different individuals will regard the 4 domains with different degrees of importance. To an “engaged workaholic” (a person who enjoys his work), work is an important component of his life and he is happy spending most of his time at work. We also know of many individuals who are family-oriented and would not hesitate to put their career “on hold” to take care of their family. Some are happy socialising with their friends while others require a lot of time and space for themselves.


How we regard each domain may also change with time & the different seasons in our lives. Knowing who we are & what makes us happy at this moment of our life (self-awareness) will empower us to make wiser decision on how to spend our time meaningfully and give us a sense of balance and well-being.

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