Career Guide

Achieving work-life balance

When we don’t define success, we end up chasing after its shadow.

For me, success is the journey towards something – not the final destination. Success is about forming a plan and constantly making sure I follow it.

For instance, if I wake up every morning with the entire day planned out and manage to accomplish most of the things I was set out to do – despite the many distractions and impromptu demands I encounter on a daily basis – then I would consider myself successful.

If I succeed from the planning to the execution stage, I would eventually deem myself successful when I have learnt how to optimise this routine for better results.

No life, no work

But without life, there is no work. Ultimately, we all have one very important mandate and that is to take care of ourselves.

There are three components that make us holistic beings: the body, the mind, and the soul. We need to nourish and build the body as it serves as our vehicle, nurture the mind as it is our temple, and feed the soul as it is the reason for our being.

I sometimes find myself too busy being busy, and that’s dangerous. When we get too caught up in the hustle, we lose balance.

Quality, not quantity

Part of being holistic is to spread your attention over time. It is more important to focus on the matters that we’re working on rather than focusing on the amount of time spent doing them.

When we are attentive, we produce higher quality work and we get it done in a shorter time. Spending hours on overtime and dragging your feet to complete a project/task is ineffective.

It is only when we live good wholesome lives, that we can do good work. But how do we go from good to great?

Hard work in spite of technology

There has never been an easier time to produce good work. With so much information available at our fingertips, we are better informed to make good decisions now than ever before.

Technology has provided a level-playing field to anyone with a decent idea and the will to carry it out. However, it takes grit and hard work to tow the line and do great work. It requires self-leadership and discipline.

Although working smartly with information, technology and automation is crucial, there is still no substitute for hard work.

Food for thought

There are no real differences between work-life balance then and now; there are only improvements ahead.

Famed English educator and minister Lawrence Pearsall Jacks once quoted:

“A master in the art of living draws no sharp distinction between his work and his play; his labour and his leisure; his mind and his body; his education and his recreation. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence through whatever he is doing and leaves others to determine whether he is working or playing. To himself, he always seems to be doing both.”

- King is the co-founder and group managing director of Saltycustoms.

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