Work-life balance: How to get there

Work Life Balance

Work Life BalanceWork-life balance is emerging as one of the most important drivers in people’s careers in recent times in India. Though the West has been focused on this aspect of one’s career long back, we in India started evincing our interest in this issue fairly recently.

In this short article, I have chosen not to focus on deliberating on “What is it” but instead on the direction of “How to get there?” But before I talk about that, it is perhaps more fundamental to answer the question “Why should I get there?” I believe one should start answering this question before beginning the journey to get there.

According to me, a well-anchored work-life philosophy helps me to balance my option between freedom and choice. This in turns aids in facilitating living a life a more fulfilling way.

Many would argue that we have neither freedom nor choice when we work for an organization. But is it true? I believe it is not. We always have choice and freedom, if we decide to have them earnestly. But I do agree that the consequences of exercising those choices and that freedom could be difficult to cope with.

Let me start with freedom first. Freedom would mean, in today’s work life, having adequate time and resources (both materialistic and spiritual) at my disposal. And if I have freedom – then and only then – can I exercise my choice.

As Paula Caproni a well-known Michigan researcher, while talking on work-life balance, once said “…The same kind of thinking that got us into this predicament is not going to get us out of it.” I personally think we must have a different perspective to begin with. So we must have a passion to start with. Once we are passionate about something, we deep dive into it. And once we deep dive into what we are passionate about, we start acquiring expertise in this area. This quest helps us to develop what I call “Passion for Excellence”. However the million dollar question is: do we all find this in what we do for our living? To answer that we must introspect to find out “It is not how much I do, but how much love I put in the doing.”‎

Unfortunately in the Indian context, social desirability often impacts our choice significantly. Sometimes we choose a profession which we do not like but end up pursuing that either because of family/peer pressure or the belief that we are not left with any other option. We need to seriously question this before choosing our profession. Choosing something that we do not like simply because somebody else tells us to do so might not emerge as a right option for our future. We cannot excel in an area that we don’t enjoy pursuing.

So here is my unusual proposition for you, especially the millennial generation. You must have not one, but multiple passions in your life. When you choose one as your profession, you start gaining expertise in that area over a period of time and thus not only do you do them better than others, you also finish them much faster. So what does it leave it with you… yes, more time and more resources at your disposal to pursue other passions in your life.

Let me explain with an example. You might be a geek – a great computer programmer – and also have an interest in social work and love trekking. So when you are at work, you do your job with all passion, much better and much faster than others. When you do that, you not only excel in it, you start getting rewarded and recognized for it. Now, you have more time to pursue social work where you help an NGO in your spare time. And finally you also have resources to go for trekking with your friends when you need to rejuvenate your work life.

Today’s organizations value multi-skilling. Horizontal career growth is a reality in present times and many organizations promote leaders with varied & more wholesome perspective. Therefore, your chances to grow as an organization leader are also enhanced with your pluralistic interest in different aspects of life.

Way back in 1999, Management Guru, late Peter Drucker in his famous HBR article “Managing Oneself” predicted about managing the second half of one’s life. He wrote, “There is one prerequisite for managing the second half of your life: you must begin doing so long before you enter it.” So what could be a better option than keeping alive multiple passions in one life? Many who succeeded in their first career became even more successful in their second one. With multiple passions in your life you continue to have work-life balance in both the innings of your life.

So before you crib about not having enough work-life balance ask yourself where rests your passion? Ignite your passion and you will re-discover your lost work-life balance.

Citrix Systems Pallab Bandyopadhyay

About the author: Dr. Pallab Bandyopadhyay currently heads the country HR function for India for both R&D and Sales as Director-Human Resources for Citrix based at Bangalore. Citrix Systems (NASDAQ listed 2.2 billion US$ revenue) is a leading provider of virtualization, networking and software as a service (SaaS) technologies for more than 230,000 organizations worldwide. Citrix India R&D centre is among the first companies in India to set up a model where the team in India plays an integral part of the global R&D team at all levels, concentrating on the core development of the flagship products instead of offering only software services.

A doctoral fellow in HRD from XLRI, Jamshedpur, Dr. Bandyopadhyay has also been trained at various human process and organization development interventions at NTL, USA as well as adult learning theories at Interactive Consultants, Canada. He has more than 24 years of professional experience managing the entire gamut of Human Resources Development functions including Learning & Development, Workforce Management, HR Business Partnering, Compensation & Benefit, Immigration, HR operations, Shared Services, HRIS, Recruiting services, Employee Communications and engagement. Before joining Citrix, he has headed the HR function at Dell Services, Perot Systems, Cambridge Solutions, Sasken Communication Technologies and Ashok Leyland Information Technology.

Dr Bandyopadhyay has been the past-President of NHRD Bangalore chapter and a member at the National HR and IR/ER committee of CII. He has published several papers in leading HR journals and is also the guest editor for NHRD Journal. He is also an expert reviewer at Harvard Business School (HBR) Press.

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