Does work-life balance mean doing more?
Updated: Jan 29, 2022
Is doing more helping or hurting you?
Work-life balance sounds like a foreign language for most of us, especially in major cities across North America and Asia. If you live in a metropolitan city, overworking is a normal lifestyle, there is no 9-5 or 40-hour work week. For some industries and certain positions, they work 50, 60, 80 hours each week. Sometimes I envy the European lifestyle, slower paced and able to enjoy life more.
While I was in the fashion industry, I was fortunate enough to live in one of its capitals - New York. As everyone knows, the Big Apple is an extremely fast paced city, especially in fashion. One of my mentors told me in the past: “When you are on time, you are already late. No one has one second to wait for you. You have to be on top of the game!!” That mentality struck me and I swore to myself, I wanted to be the best in the game, and I dedicate my life to work. From that moment on, I put work in front of everything—my family, friends, health, even myself. Of course, shortly after, I lost work-life balance.
I put work in front of everything.... Of course, shortly after, I lost work-life balance.
As glamorous as fashion looks from the outside, we work 10, 12, 14 hours a day, if not more. Sometimes we go to work before the sun is out and it’s dark outside when we finish.
I remember many times when I traveled across the country to see my parents, I had to cut my trips short because of work inquiries. A few years ago, I was on a vacation (I barely take vacation outside the States) to Zürich and Barcelona. I had to shorten my trip because of a last-minute job in NY. I wasn’t the one in charge of my life, my work controlled my life. Because of work-life imbalance, my health, relationships with others and myself were all out of alignment. I hated myself and my life every single day.
Society delivers these messages to us: more, newer, bigger, better!
The more you do, the better life you have. When we don’t do enough, we feel lazy and that turns into guilt. To avoid being labeled as lazy, we continue to work ourselves into the ground. We think doing more will make us happy. But really, what is enough?! Everyone measures “enough” differently. To me, enough means contained and fulfilled. In the past, work-life imbalance turned me into a work slave. Nowadays I take out “more” in my work equation and I tell myself, I allow myself to take a break and I am enough!!
- Regard Tang