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Finding Work-Life Harmony

Ranjit Thind Work Life Balance, Directory Blog...

Finding Work-Life Harmony

Image credit Lesly Juarez via Unsplash
The Joys And Perils of Work

Whether you work in head office or in-store, there are many good things about work. It provides a sense of fulfilment, achievement, satisfaction and belonging, as well as financial rewards. If these factors are aligned, work provides a deep sense of motivation, passion and purpose. For many of us, balancing work with our personal life remains an elusive concept in today’s increasingly high-pressured environment, as there is a constant strive to juggle competing priorities and perform as the ‘ideal employee’. If we consider our typical work routine, most of us are delivering 100 percent on the current operational demands of our jobs. There is little time to think strategically, sense new trends to spark creativity, find new customers and develop our teams and ourselves further, let alone carve out quality time for ourselves to spend with family and friends or on enjoying leisure activities.

Navigating A VUCA World

As the fashion cycle continues to accelerate in an increasingly multi-directional environment we need to manage our energy, motivation and resilience. Many of us have or are deferring job gratification and making several sacrifices (which we will probably regret) on those closest to us as we set ourselves up for a better life. Nevertheless, as life is no longer a linear path from A-Z, the question is then whether it is possible to have a great career and a great personal life all at the same time? There is no clear answer to this, as you will have to make continuous trade-offs since you will not be able to achieve a perfect balance between all the aspects of your life: your career, family, friends and personal life. However, balancing ‘results’ versus ‘effort’ is about being in the best possible mental, emotional and physical condition to maximise focus to support effective decision-making and strengthen interpersonal interactions. Therefore, you can benefit from understanding the need for self-reflection and self-management, whether this is through sport, hobbies, meditation or simply spending quality time with family and friends.

Image credit Matheus Ferrero via Unsplash
The Fit Executive

Talented fashion executives have crafted mechanisms to help create focus and gain perspective for the physical, emotional, intellectual and environmental demands of the job and life in general. With situational factors being the biggest contributors to burnout, the following 18 interventions are offered (in no particular order) to help everyone become a fit executive:

  1. Schedule meetings at times in the day when your physical energy is at its highest:

  • Keep a diary for two weeks to see how you spend your time
  • Reallocate meetings to when you are at your sharpest
  • Cut back unnecessary talking and aim to learn, listen and ask the right questions
  • Ensure that an agenda is given before the meeting, the number of attendees is limited and action points are distributed afterwards
  • Be relentless on start and finish times
  1. Eat a balanced and healthy diet:

  • Never miss breakfast as this is your most important meal of the day
  • Eat three to five small meals throughout the day rather than two to three large ones
  • Reduce your intake of coffee and sugary drinks; substitute them for water
  • Avoid excessive smoking and drinking
  1. Frequently exercise and undertake sport as part of your overall wellness regime:

  • Aim to exercise for 30–45 minutes three to four times a week
  • Join a class to boost motivation, discipline and social interaction
  • Switch between high-impact and low-impact workouts, such as a boxing class with yoga
  1. Ensure rich and ample social connection with family and friends:

  • Be disciplined in spending time with your immediate family
  • Regularly catch up with friends and extended family
  • Join clubs and associations to meet new people
  1. Manage technology to help you rather than hinder you:

  • Leverage the cloud, mobile working, Wifi connectivity and online shopping
  • Maximise dead time like commuting to review your day, complete tasks or simply rest
  • Build in boundaries to shut yourself off from technology
  1. Buy-in domestic help to make your life easier:

  • Utilise cleaning, ironing and dog-walking services
  • Enlist trusted and reliable childcare
  1. Hire a professional life/executive coach to provide a fresh perspective:

  • Gain unbiased and real feedback
  • Use life coaching to live a more fulfilling life
  • Leverage executive coaching to become a better manager at work
  1. Enlist a mentor/sponsor at work as a soundboard to activate positive learning opportunities:

  • Gain constructive feedback to round out your skills
  • Confidentially discuss work challenges
  • Maximise the opportunity to be part of cross-functional projects
  1. Build a great team around yourself and be generous to them with your time:

  • Balance team composition using skills, experience, behaviour and aptitude
  • Provide real and actionable feedback and continuous coaching
  • Offer developmental opportunities to everyone
  1. Agree on a shared vision of success with your partner and family:

  • Discuss and set your work-life priorities with your spouse
  • Regularly review work-life goals
  • Build support networks inside and outside of the firm
  1. Establish a higher purpose through values-based leadership: 

  • Focus on what you can give rather than what you can gain
  • Look outwards versus inwards
  1. Undertake non-profit work to help keep an emotional balance:

  • Stay in touch with the world around you and those less fortunate than you
  • Get out of your comfort zone to help others
  • Try volunteering in another country to broaden your horizons
  1. Integrate journaling, meditation and mindfulness into your leadership style:

  • Make time to clear your thoughts and keep your focus and energy high
  • Practise breathing and visualisation techniques to heighten awareness and relaxation
  • Avoid daily distractions such as office gossip to remain focused
  1. Stay humble, authentic and grounded:

  • Do not lose sight of the world around you
  • If appropriate, engage in spirituality and faith-based traditions
  • Practise empathy on a regular basis
  1. Continue self-development and professional learning:

  • Aim to learn one or two new things a year
  • Unconditionally share your knowledge with others
  • Attend networking events and conferences
  1. Take regular holidays and get plenty of rest:

  • Aim for a minimum of seven hours’ sleep a night
  • Avoid trying to catch up on sleep on the weekends
  • Carve out time to do nothing except enjoy that particular moment
  1. Do not live beyond your means:

  • Aim to have sufficient savings to cover six months of living expenses
  • Regularly review your financial situation with an expert
  • Avoid excessive amounts of credit
  1. Positively engage in new experiences like food, travel and culture:

  • Take advantage of low-cost travel to visit new places
  • Remain curious, meet new people and respect different cultures
  • Aim to read a variety of newspaper, magazines and websites to get a fuller perspective of the world

In designing your ideal job, factors including having time for family responsibilities, ensuring time for health and wellness, time away from work to take holidays and support for volunteering efforts form a large part for most well-rounded fashion executives. By taking a moment to reflect and writing down what your week looked like and how you felt, you can assess exactly how you are spending the 168 hours that exist and what activities you need to reduce or increase to manage the expectations of friends, family and colleagues to ultimately feel better. This takes courage and conviction, and you must not feel guilty for the choices you make to sustain your fashion career and live a happier and healthier life. If you find that situational factors provide little opportunity for positive direction, then you might need to think about a complete or bigger change to your lifestyle and seek targeted advice through professional career coaching. By doing this, you will be a better leader and person as you will be living a more fulfilling and integrated life, as ultimately your life is an expression of the choices you have made so make sure you are in control in 2018!


Ranjit Thind is the author of ‘Strategic Fashion Management: Concepts, Models and Strategies For Competitive Advantage’ available now on Amazon. This article is a based on an extract from his book.