Creating Harmony is a Personal Choice

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A “work-life balance” seems to be the nirvana that most of us strive to achieve. But what if this ideal state of equal proportions of work and life is only mythical? How can we debunk this myth to take a harmonious approach on our work and personal lives? Our Managing Director, Alex Iskandar Liew, shares his thoughts on how the MCO Period can be the perfect opportunity to find that state of work-life equilibrium.

Truth be told, the Movement Control Order (MCO) has provided me a long-awaited solace. One that has allowed me to condense, rationalise and move myself forward optimistically from the last 6 months’ worth of thoughts and futile planning. 

I’ve sat in almost every corner of the house, sometimes with the laptop, sometimes with a pen in hand, sometimes just piecing and compartmentalising thoughts in my head, hoping against hope that these thoughts will start to express themselves as soon as the perfect words come to my mind. 

Take for instance, right now, in the tranquillity of the MCO at 7am and the blank canvas that we all have in front of us every start of the day, we dwell sometimes in silence and sometimes, the morning is broken by the natural sounds of nature. 

Well, it’s all relative. You see, this is the new norm for those not directly affected by the pandemic; for some who are, there are different sets of emotions altogether. And somewhere in between are those trying to find reasons for their present being.

So, our Manager, Nadine, had tasked the team to “share our individual positive stories during the MCO period” as part of COMMUNICATE’s 2nd anniversary celebratory musings. To me, this was a new activity that I’d readily welcome. It allowed, at least for me, to break away from the norm of the last one month plus where I felt the MCO and the working from home (WFH) concept has been incredibly intrusive. Necessary, I understand, but intrusive, nevertheless. 

Then, it dawned on me that this was what has been lacking in some facets of my life. Yes, I do sneak out for a very quick 7km spin around the block just to break my monotonous day devoid of real social human interaction. But we become so engulfed in this conceptual MCO and WFH, that we remain all too focused on being industrious at work, even though we are in the luxury of our own home. We begin to discover that the 24 hours in our day throughout the MCO isn’t really that of our own. We have been busy because we seemingly must do many things as part of our scope of work during crisis. In fact, I find that I am far busier now that when I was actually at work proper. 

I miss the whirring of the coffee machine, ambient noises, laughter and the “It’s lunch, what do we eat today?” at our cosy little office. I miss seeing each and everyone of the team physically. I miss peering into what they may be up to and on the occasion, break an uncomfortable silence in the office by simply asking, “So what are we doing today?” For some, it’s an “OMG, what do I intelligently have to tell him?” For others, it’s “Let me just answer him quickly to just get him off my case!” I honestly do miss all the little individual nuances that makes up the COMMUNICATE Team.

Our team holds weekly conference calls to keep ourselves updated with each other’s nuances.

Maybe the approach to work-life is about creating harmony. Maybe it is about whatever each of us wants it to be and thus, it is solely within our own power to achieve. Maybe this harmony also means harmonising with those you care about. For example, strengthening relationships in the face of ever-increasing work demands involves redefining what success really is for us all as individuals, a collective unit and the company we work for. And more importantly, how do we care about each other in those pursuits? How do we support those around us?

In the end, it’s a choice. It’s your choice. I wish I had a cleverer solution or insight, but it really boils down to that.

Work-life harmony isn’t something you will find from hopping from one workplace to another. It is something you create, and you’ll never find it on the outside until you feel it on the inside. In recent weeks, my team and I have had very open and honest conversations amongst ourselves. That I felt was an inflection point; a much needed combustion that would positively lead (I hope) to a beginning of a new chapter. One that would provide both spiritual and habitual growth for us as individuals and a collective unit. 

The bittersweet melancholy of life that surrounds us every day that makes us miss those we love and pray for will prevail. These experiences can only help us and prepare us to be more focused on what lies ahead.

Cheers to work-life harmony.

Most of us have gone through tough situations at some point of time in our professional lives. That time when our assignment got cancelled after sheer hard work; when a client or the boss snapped at us unjustly; when our colleague and close friend was reprimanded or handed a pink slip, or when we are allocated more work at a time when we are already weighed down with delivery. We all seemingly work all the time now. We need to demystify the role of emotion, so that we are able to collectively demonstrate empathy to enable equitable and harmonious approaches.