In this period of uncertainty, many of us are working longer hours, ramping up our productivity, trying to reinvent our lives in the face of redundancy and blurring the line between work and home more and more.
Work-life balance – what’s that, I hear you cry!
Well I’m not really talking about the classic work-life balance at all. In the ‘new normal’ where we are all working differently, living differently, could be locked down to manage a local outbreak, traveling less and so on, we need to reconsider our old notions of balance.
It used to be easy: work was at the office and home was well, at home. Now the boundaries are less clear and it made me think that this idea of compartmentalising our lives is actually quite alien to who we are. I talk often about how impact and social impact in particular are holistic. Perhaps we need to be looking at our own lives, and practices as social impact professionals and thinking again about how we define ‘balance’.
Perhaps, rather than balance being the idea that one area of our lives (work) is weighed off against another area of our lives (home), we consider that balance means finding a way for all aspects of ourselves to coexist at the same time: profession, vocation, mission and passion. In Japan this concept of a reason for being is called Ikigai. Other cultures and societies have come up with similar concepts that interpret balance in a holistic manner, rather than as a set of weights measuring out equally across work and life.
What has this got to do with social impact, evaluation, consultancy, or anything else, you might ask? Social impact is just the phrase that we use as shorthand for the kind of approach to the world that we are using. To be really good at social impact, you need to ensure that everything about your organisation, project or intervention, or indeed your life, is in balance. At an organisational level there are many tools to help with this, from the rather aptly named ‘balanced scorecard’ through to Theory of Change, mapping tools, etc; just as there are for life in general. It is up to you to find the one that works best for your organisation and ensure that it is applied with as little bias as possible.
Getting balance right will make the world of difference to you! Good luck!