DID you know that while we're all freaking out over work-life balances, the phrase was originally coined in the mid-1800s as a definition to happiness?
That's right. Wiki that stat and you'll see that, anthropologically, the smaller the gap between your work and your play, the happier you would be. On paper.
Of course, it's taken under the assumption that the content of your work and the content of your play run a close parallel.
But today, with significant communication technological advances, work-life balance has become more a spreadsheet of hours billable versus time spent "offline”.
We're focused on time, not content.
By the historic standard, a woman blogging about fun things she does with her kids would be considered happy. The content of her work matches the content of her play. Figuring that her website was generating an income.
By today's time-focused definition, it could be sullied with things like hours spent generating publicity, administration, smartphone app developments and bonding with her online community. The time spent on her work could begin to outweigh the fun she got to have with her kids.
So, there's something to be said for pursuing a career in something you enjoy.
But if you're not able to work in your "field of dreams”, then here are some other ways to inspire happiness in your downtime.
- Call a friend. Don't email. Don't PM them on Facebook. Dial their number. I'm sure you still have it. Set a date to catch up. Sometimes all we need is a friendly face to cheer us up.
- Have you lapsed in any area of interest? Stopped gardening or zumba-ing or going to church? Make these things a priority.
- If your work is really making you miserable take some small steps to change it. Study, suggest a change in responsibility (plenty of workplaces now require someone to handle their social media accounts, for example), take your break away from your desk.
- Consider if you can afford to work less. What would you put that time towards instead? If you can't afford it, would you commit to that "other idea” outside of work hours? Even small steps are still steps.
- If your problem isn't identifying and achieving goals, then perhaps you're not celebrating your success enough. It's just as important to acknowledge the hard work you have put in. Give yourself a pat on the back. Buy a new pair of shoes. Heck, buy two.
The most important thing is to reflect on what does make you happy and invest your time in it. Especially if it's not part of your job description.