Work-life harmony is quickly replacing the elusive concept of work-life balance in the pursuit of happiness. From Fortune 500s to mom-and-pop shops, more businesses are creating happy, cohesive environments from work to home.
“When the moon (when the moon) is in the Seventh House
And Jupiter (Jupiter) aligns with Mars
Then peace will guide the planets
And love will steer the stars”
The Age of Aquarius is thought to be the age of love, light, and, oh the beautiful word, harmony. After a few decades of having work and life being at battle with one another, harmony sounds so magical.
Okay, I promise the rest of this article won’t be that corny, so please keep reading. Instead, let’s start with some definitions. In my previous article about Work-Life Balance, I also wrote about Work-Life Integration. Now we have balance, integration, and harmony. What does it all mean? Which one is actually right for you and your business?
Balance, Integration, and Harmony
The phrase ‘work-life balance’ has been a hot topic for a few decades. However, as discussed in my previous article, the term balance was erroneously used since its inception in the 1980s.
Not being a fan of the word balance, I subscribed to the concept of work-life integration, where the experiences and lessons of work and life are integrated. Integration allows us to align our careers with our lifestyle goals.
Now we have yet another concept to consider, work-life harmony. But before we go on, I think it is important to define the terms being used. Words have power. When used correctly they can change the outcome we desire.
- Balance – a condition in which different elements are equal or in the correct proportions
- Integrate – combine (one thing) with another so that they become a whole.
- Harmony – the quality of forming a pleasing and consistent whole.
Show me the Money
It is great to be able to talk about balance, integration, and harmony. However, money is (and probably will always be) a major factor! None of the 3 is going to be attained if we can’t pay our bills and enjoy our lifestyle. So, let’s first talk about the money factor.
H. Pink’s book, Drive, The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us, states “The best use of money as a motivator is to pay people enough to take the issue of money off the table.” His research shows that ‘
baseline rewards’ of pay must b
eadequate and equitable. If we aren’t worried if Susie or Joe is making more money than we are for the same job, we are more apt to get to work. Contrary to what we believe, Pink’s research also shows that bonuses and rewards for work can actually have an adverse effect. Offering incentives narrow focus and clouds creativity, decreasing performance. Don’t believe me? Read the book 🙂
Work, Money, and Happiness
It doesn’t matter if you are a business owner looking to enhance the culture of your work environment, a solo entrepreneur, or an employee, we need to work to make money and we want to be happy doing it. When our work goals coincide with our lifestyle goals, we are moving toward harmony.
Here is how it might apply to your situation:
If you are a solo entrepreneur or commission based, this idea of salary isn’t something that resonates with you. However, you do get paid for your work, and making sure you get paid an adequate amount is important. Too often when people set their own prices, they are willing to discount their prices to win a customer. More often than not, when we discount our fee, we end up regretting the work. We feel undervalued and overworked. We feel this way because we under-valued ourselves for the workload.
Know your values. Know your strengths. Be willing to say no to discounting your work. A good friend of mine, Dana Bickford, always said, “We all need work. We just don’t need all work.” When you work with people who value the work you do, you will be happier.
Business Owner or Employer
Pink’s book points out that research by Sylvia Hewlett found a common thread among generations ranging from Gen Y to Boomers. Her research showed, “Neither generation rates money as the most important form of compensation. Instead, they choose a range of nonmonetary factors – from ‘a great team’ to ‘the ability to give back to society through work’.”
Focus on workplace dynamics. Embrace creativity, allow for autonomy, and incorporate accountability. The last one might seem counterproductive but frequent accountability has been found more productive and helpful to the employee than annual reviews. People want to know they’re on the right track. They do not want to continue doing work that is not meeting the goals of the company. More frequent check-ins help us know we are doing the work expected. When we are doing good, we are happier.
As an employee, you may not have control over pay, but you have a lot of influence on culture and teamwork. Start by asking for what you need. Ask your manager/leader for a weekly or monthly check-in. If their schedule won’t allow it, connect with a coworker for feedback on your work.
Don’t just sit at work upset about the office culture. YOU are the office culture. Do something about it. Initiate a monthly potluck, happy hour, or charity event. You have more influence than you think. Once you take a step to create positive change, you will be happier.
As defined above, harmony is accomplished when we form a pleasing and consistent whole. We strive to be whole – one person, not a different person at work and a different person at home. The concept of work-life balance divides the person into two spheres but we are so much more than work and life. We have careers, families, relationships, hobbies, passions, goals beliefs, and so much more. Finding a way to accomplish these desires through our work and in our lives is what leads to harmony.
But let’s be real… we have to work. We have to earn a living. You might as well enjoy it. If you don’t enjoy your work, maybe it is just a mindset.
I had an employee who would go home and complain about work to her husband. It was more of a cultural/generational thing. They both worked, went home, and their evening conversation was to complain about work. Coming from a similar environment as a child, I easily recognized this pattern. It was easy to spot because of her cynicism and discontentment. We had a conversation about it and it stopped. Not only did it stop, but she and her husband started making incremental positive changes in their lives. From there I watched her life change. Doors of opportunity and advancement opened for her and she is still thriving.
I love my work! Work is where I found purpose and fulfillment. It is where I created my own positive impact, learned valuable lessons, and became a role model for my daughter and many others. I earned respect, gained confidence, and became financially independent.
My daughter grew up watching me interact with people confidently in professional and personal environments. When she had a tough time at school, I was able to tell her a work story where I had to hold my head high and walk back into the lion’s den. This encouraged her to be able to do the same. Our life lessons and our business lessons are integrated into our worlds to create harmony.
Your mindset around work and life is ultimately what creates your harmony.
- Respect, confidence, compassion, creativity, empathy, and purpose – these are parts of the whole person leading to work-life harmony.
- You have a choice in how you show up and how you look at your situation. How are you showing up in work and in life?
- Think about your career goals and your lifestyle goals. Are they aligned? Will your work provide the lifestyle you desire?
Anyone who has ever achieved anything had to overcome obstacles and hardships along their path. These are the LESSONS of the UNSTOPPABLE ones. Unstoppable Lessons shares the skills, techniques, and mindset necessary to face the challenges of our professional and personal lives. If we embrace the lessons and practice them, excuses will no longer have a place in our lives.
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