Time flies this year for me. In a blink of eye, 4 months had past. I had been extremely busy in work since the start of the year. This is primarily because of my company being acquired by a bigger company and an expanded role. Do not envy, no commensurated-salary increment! :(
I returned to office last week, after a fortnight of ICT, and work is piling. To make things worst, in the next month or so, my schedules are already packed either with overseas travel or visitors coming to Singapore.
For all my ill-fated busy work schedule, I still appreciate that I am at least able to have weekend free, for my family including my 4-month old, and also time for myself.
When time is so limited primarily for earning money, we often lament “how to achieve Work Life Balance?”
What is Work Life Balance (WLB)?
Few days ago, I asked my wife what is the definition of work life balance (WLB)? She said spending quality time between work and family. Good answer, but not exactly holistic.
Most of us appear to know what is WLB by our own standard, but maybe it is good to know its formal definition. Accordingly to Wikipedia,
“Work life balance, is a concept including proper prioritizing between "work" and "lifestyle", where in general,
- Spiritual development / mediation
Yes, PRIORITISING is critical.
Work Life Balance is Only For the Rich/Financially Freed?
To some, WLB is for the rich or financially freed people only. This group believed that it is only when you are financially freed, then you can be mentally freed to pursue what you really wanted to do! For average Singaporean, you have to slog and work. “Where got WLB?”
Agree or Not?
It's no denial that being financially free or having more money will put us in a better position of pursuing WLB. In most cases, it also provides the mental freedom to pursue our pleasure and leisure. A bigger purse can also help us to employ the best doctor when we meet with health problems. We are also able to have more expensive overseas family tours, expensive dinners, entertainments etc. For the lower income family, WLB’s correlation with money is even stronger.
When asking the questions of Money being directly proportional to WLB, it immediately leads me to think of the below examples.
Join Government Sector
I have many middle class friends in their mid to late 30s who, after setting up families want to have more time for their kids. They left their higher paying jobs in private sectors to join government sectors to have more time and better work life benefits.
For e.g. several government companies had implemented Flexible Work Arrangements (FWAs) which includes flexi work start and end time; work from home few days a month. S’pore government has also started incentive for organizations who promote WLB or work-life friendly environment. To know more, please refer to MOM Work-life Grant – click here.
So lesser income, for more time! Money is NOT directly proportional to WLB in this case!
Financially Freed, but Mentally Not Freed
I had an ex-colleague and let’s call him Mr. L. He is 58 at that time, when we were working in the same company. Mr. L is successfully in his early career climbing in an MNC to MD position in his thirties. Mr. L is frugal and owns many properties all fully paid, supplemented with monthly rental income. His children are already working. In another words, money is never a problem. In fact, he is financially freed way before he is 50 years of age.
Nevertheless, Mr. L did not achieve the WLB he deserved then, or at least the mental freedom he supposingly has in work.
While in my company, for some reasons, Mr. L becomes an eyesore to the CEO. He was frequently picked, for matters not his fault. He was even humiliated in front of junior staffs. After office hours, he received repeated text messages pressurizing him on trivial work related matters. It was nightmare for Mr. L but strangely he continued to swallow his pride for more than 1 year.
His wife, who is a highly paid executive, persuaded him to leave his job. Mr. L did not accede, even when later his Salary was halved.
After he joined my team, I asked him why didn't he leave earlier, since money was never a concern of him? Are the sufferings worth it?
The reply: "I needed something to do!"
To me, this is a classic example of being financially freed, but not mentally freed!
What Do You Think?
In my opinion, money is just a catalyst to WLB but definitely does not cause it. I have to admit I am financially stronger now than many years ago. But it does not mean that I have less work-life-balance at that time compared to now. Perhaps, it is a matter of mentality – Choice, Discipline and Desire!
Perhaps it is more important to know yourself better, knows what you really love and want to do, earlier in your life. Rather than to wait till the latter part of your life, that even if you have financial freedom, you will still be mentally restricted!
So how about you? Do you agree that having more money means having more work life balance?