Midlife Musings – “Just Set Your Priorities”, he said.

I was sitting at the lunch table with a bunch of my colleagues today and we were generally discussing about the lack of work life balance these days in corporate jobs.

One of them said, “Work-life balance is a myth that leaders and HR promote to give employees that carrot-dangling-at-the-end-of-the-stick incentive to keep working – the carrot being the ‘life’ part of the balance equation.”

I said, “I hear you. I mean, at my age and after having worked hard and slogged in the industry for the last sixteen years, I’d like to slow down. Focus on my health, my family, my passions. I don’t want more money or a promotion. I just want to earn my keep and have the rest of the day to myself!”

To which, another male colleague retorted, “It is very simple to achieve that. Just set your priorities!”

I have to admit, I was a little ruffled. But I didn’t want the lunch table to turn into a sort of rant session. But really, I think, I am one of those few people who know very well what her priorities are. They are – focus on self health – both mental and physical, pay attention to my child and family, and work to earn my keep. As simple as that. And all the three have equal priority for me. So you can imagine the challenge I face, when I am asked to slog through a 10 hour work day, leaving me no time or energy for the other things that are important to me!

I have been asking a lot of people how they manage to bring work life balance about. But mostly I get responses like the myth one. That we just work and then finish off the household chores. And then are too exhausted to exercise or meditate or pursue a hobby or spend quality time with our loved ones. No wonder so many of us have mental health issues, or other physical illnesses manifesting as early as 35 years of age!

But is there really no answer to this problem? Is capitalism and hyper consumerism killing our lives and souls? Can’t the world just collectively decide enough is enough and go on a strike or slow down and say, I want to prioritise me too? Or are there really jobs and organisations out there which give you the flexibility to divide your life into three equal pieces and one just needs to keep looking until they find their right fit? Because that is another thing I have learned, what is right for me and my skills, may not be right for someone else.

I personally would like to believe that there is still hope and I just need to keep looking and working towards getting that mythical work-life balance. What do you think? Is work-life balance a myth? Have we really forgotten what our priorities are or are most of us prioritising money and materialism over everything else?

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