Does balance matter? Does it matter how we get it?

bookAn A-Z Introduction to Ethic’onomics
(excerpts from the highly acclaimed first book from Philip A Birch, ‘An A-Z Introduction to Ethic’onomics; principles and practices of ethical business for the 21st century’.)

Each month the 3rdi magazine has been provided with exclusive rights to issue 1 topic from this book which, in it’s entirety, contains over 100 principles and practices for the enlightened thinkers, ethical leaders, business pioneers and change agents.

As perfectly captioned by the late, great social campaigner, MP and peer, the Rt Hon. Lord Ashley,
“I think it is a splendid piece of work and deserves high praise not just because of the way it is written but also because it tackles an old subject in a fresh way. All too often the moral case goes by the board but it may well be that you have started a new way of approaching the dry subject of economics.”
  

As we hurtle towards Christmas, or Yuletide or Happy Holidays or whatever your proclivity and bent, there is one thing certain for many of us; that we will return to work exhausted. We will throw ourselves unreservedly and unashamedly into the holiday spirit with more zeal and expectation than a new job. With more travel, more visitations, more food, more drink and more . . . more, we will suck it in and suck it up and consider the implications next year. And why not? We deserve a break.

But is it a break? Does it restore the balance of 350+ days of toil and stress or does it simply represent the daily grinds in an alternative guise? Can 12 days of excess in one area balance out 350+ days ‘work’?
Does balance matter? Does it matter how we get it?

Balance
Definition: a desirable point between two or more opposite forces, balance being the point that minimises the negatives of both

Now I know that the above definition may seem a little metaphysical, but it does reflect the potential daily battle that too many of us fight between the forces of work and life. I understand life in this context to mean everything else that is not work which means that work is a heavier, far stronger force that requires balancing by everything else.

“Balance is key: I need to be successful in my career to feel fulfilled, be surrounded by people I care about to share it with, and have my health to be able to do the things I love to do!”
Kiana Tom

Clearly we all have the same number of hours in a day so how come some people seem to have all the time in the world to do the life things while others haven’t got a spare second? Obviously all our lives are different, unique, but I again talk here in general terms and generally speaking most of us would like more life time. It may be our circumstances, our organisation, our planning, our environment, but whatever it is that causes our imbalance, we should all take note of the following that I have extracted from The Mayo Clinic: (16)
Finding work-life balance in today’s frenetically paced world is no simple task.

Spend more time at work than at home, and you miss out on a rewarding personal life. Then again, when you face challenges in your personal life, such as caring for an aging parent or coping with marital problems, concentrating on your job can be difficult. Whether the problem is too much focus on work or too little, when your work life and your personal life feel out of balance, stress — along with its harmful effects — is the result.
The good news is that you can take control of your work-life balance, and give yourself the time to do the things that are most important to you. The first step is to recognise how the world of work has changed. Then you can evaluate your relationship to work and apply some specific strategies for striking a healthier balance.

“But if you can create an honourable livelihood, where you take your skills and use them and you earn a living from it, it gives you a sense of freedom and allows you to balance your life the way you want.”
Anita Roddick

The pressure of an increasingly demanding work culture here too in the UK, is perhaps the biggest challenge to the mental health of the general population. The cumulative effect of increased working hours is having an important effect on the lifestyle of a huge number of people. The Mental Health Foundation is concerned that a sizeable group of people are neglecting the factors in their lives, which make them resistant or resilient to mental health problems.

So, ignore your balance at your own risk.
It is estimated that nearly 30% of UK employees will experience a mental health problem in any one year. However the recent and dramatic rise in Britain’s working hours would suggest that this is likely to increase. In 2000 a Department for Education and Employment survey revealed that around one in eight employees was at that time working more than 60 hours a week. Also, in that same year, the then Prime Minister launched the Work Life Balance campaign. Over the subsequent two years the number of people working more than 60 hours rose to one in six. The number of women working these hours more than doubled over the same period.

It is also estimated that stress related sick-leave costs British industry £370 million every year or approximately 91 million working days. This is half of all days lost.

So enough with the doom and gloom, I hope that I have made my point.

“Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony.”
Thomas Merton

Simply speaking, working out of balance is unhealthy and is generally accepted as contributing to physical and mental health issues. You are, to a large degree, in control of your own health so whilst you may not be able to change everything about your environment and conditions of work, you may be able to do something, any small thing, that addresses the issue.

Merry Christmas – have a break.

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