Farewell Burnout, Hello Harmony



Anyone else out there battling with the constant pull of priorities and the gnawing feeling that there aren’t enough hours in the day? Since covid, that’s me to a tee. I’m working longer hours, spending late nights or early mornings staring at the dim light of my laptop, racing to meet a pending work deadline while my two kids sleep. Or, I’m battling the feeling that I’m letting my work team down because I’m on camp pick-up duty and can’t make that important call. It’s an endless battle of trade-offs, and I feel like I’m always coming up short.

The pressure of achieving the ultimate ‘work-life balance’ is part of the problem. It’s problematic because it implies a trade-off — you have to sacrifice your life for work or vice versa to achieve ‘balance’. Like a tipping scale, you’re putting things on and off, making sacrifices along the way. Well, I’m saying enough is enough to balance, and I’m striving for harmony – work-life harmony.

Work-Life Harmony is about you — your whole self — and where you choose to invest your energy to make your life richer. “Work” and “life” are interdependent elements that are completely intertwined — they play together like an orchestra. There is no trade-off where you shut off the work part of yourself (or worse, the home part of yourself). Sometimes, you’ll go out of balance, meaning you’ll give more energy to your career or vice versa, but harmony is about realizing that it’s okay to go out of balance. Like your favorite song where vocals and the instruments go up and down to make that beautiful track. I read this quote from the Founder & CEO of Lifehack, Leo Ho, and it stuck with me: “Living in harmony is about feeling good about the ways in which you spend your time, despite how busy you may be. Your switch from work mode to a more personal mode should be effortless. It’s about integrating your personal life and the things you love into your busy work life.”

So, how do we end the constant trade-offs and stop beating ourselves up over competing priorities and find and nurture harmony to be our best self? Here are a few things I’ve learned as I’ve started my journey:

  1. Lean into what brings you joy. Find what brings you energy and lean into it. Let’s face it, not every aspect of our job brings us joy, and there sure are things in our personal lives that we’d rather avoid — so when you’re feeling like you need an energy boost to be your best (whole) self, lean into the parts your career/personal life that make you happy. For me, when I feel my energy depleting at work, I take a step back, and I lean into the people aspect of my job. Personal connections make me the happiest. Or, I take time away and double down on family time or pick up a design magazine (my favorite pastime). This always brings my energy back and makes me better. Research suggests that we are happier and more invested in our work when we can find joy in what we do.
  2. Be present: Be intentional about where you put your focus in that moment. When you’re at work, put your focus and attention there — give your all. When you’re with your family, leave work matters out of your mind. Give your full attention to whatever you’re doing at that specific moment. Not only will this energize you, but it will also make you more productive at the task at hand. Trust me, it’s nearly impossible to open that spreadsheet when your mind is somewhere else.
  3. Practice self-compassion. Be kind to yourself. We live in a ‘culture of busy’ with constant stimulation. It’s impossible not to feel like we could be doing more — but I am here to tell you — you are awesome and you are doing enough. None of this will work if you don’t practice self-kindness (and self-care).

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