Recently we ran a Management Tip called “Why Work-Life Balance is the Wrong Idea.” Here’s another viewpoint. Leave a comment and let us know what you think!
Life sometimes can seem off kilter as responsibilities mount and people plow all their physical and mental resources into what seems to be the most pressing crisis of the moment.
But Lumbie Mlambo says that’s a good time to take a step back. Everyone has the potential to shine in life’s darkest moments, but the key to achieving goals and an overall better existence is to maintain a balance so that one aspect of your life isn’t consumed by another.
While some people might say balance in life is an impossible goal, she disagrees and says when each of us find our equilibrium, we become more productive and a greater asset to our communities.
“There’s balance in everything we do, be it walking, talking, eating, sleeping, working, or spending time with family,” says Mlambo.
“For example, look at how we try to deal with our work-life situation. We balance our workload so that we can still make room for other activities, to spend more time with our spouses or our children. We do that because we understand how important it is.”
She offers these reasons for why living a balanced life is essential:
• The health factor. Staying balanced is a key to a healthier and successful life. Both mental health and physical health benefit, and as a result, so do our overall lives. “When we’re healthy, we’re able to care for ourselves and others in our community,” Mlambo says.
• The empathy factor. When we find balance in life, we can better understand the importance of helping the underprivileged, says Mlambo, who grew up in a rural area in Zimbabwe. You begin to realize that someday you could be in their situation, which makes you a more empathetic person. “Your economic situation is like your health,” she says. “Nothing is guaranteed.”
• The role-model factor. Sharing our stories — whether it’s a tale of success or even a tale of failure — is important because others can learn from us or be inspired by us as they too strive for a balanced life. “When you tell your story, it empowers, motivates and encourages people to not give up on their dreams and goals,” Mlambo says. “Maybe you think your story is just not that interesting or important. But for someone out there, it may be the spark that ignites them to great things.”
Mlambo always strove to find balance in her life. But she became even more passionate about it after she suffered a stroke in 2001 that left her partially paralyzed. She since has recovered, but says the event had a profound impact on her and she will always consider herself a stroke patient.
“Before the stroke, I thought my life was balanced in a way,” she says. “I mean, I ate healthy foods. I exercised seven days a week. But it was not balanced in the way I wanted. I had been too focused on myself. I realized that life was not just about me, but about others.”
Finding balance in life isn’t just a feel-good concept, Mlambo says. As people achieve balance, they realize they have the potential to rise above their circumstances. They can become more productive in their communities and that is good for everyone.
“Staying proactive and shifting the way we think can even help the economy to grow and can help create more jobs,” she says.
Certainly, maintaining a balanced life may be tougher than ever because technology allows work — emails, text messages, telephone calls — to intrude on people’s “off” hours. But that’s just all the more reason to make a concerted effort to strive for balance, Mlambo says.
She says it’s become popular in some circles to argue that a balanced life is a myth and can’t be achieved. But regardless of their views, she says, most people seem to be trying to bring balance to their lives, even if they don’t think of it that way.
“We eat healthy to stay balanced, we get enough sleep or rest to avoid stress, we juggle our daily activities to stay balanced,” Mlambo says. “To be successful in anything we do, we must have some sort of balance.”
Lumbie Mlambo is editor of Equanimity Magazine, a lifestyle publication that shares the stories of “real people and their search to lead better lives.” She also has a background in project management, computer/software engineering and business analysis. She holds an associate degree in computer science from Indiana University South Bend, and a bachelor’s degree in computer science and mathematics from Texas Woman’s University. She is multilingual, speaking English, Zulu, Ndebele, and French. www.equanimitymag.com