The Autonomy to make your Work-Life Balance thrive
I can choose, so my best work/life balance is achieved outside the 9-to-5!
A recruiter reached out to me last week, and it turned out to be a very helpful thinking exercise for me.
Far from being a coaching conversation, it sticked with me the whole weekend nonetheless. Also, it felt good to be on the other side of the fence for once 😀.
The questions asked (to assess my current and desired situations) allowed me to state out loud the aspects of my profession I love, and the ones I love a bit less. One question in particular stood out: “Would you consider going back to 9-to-5?”. My hunch went: “Hard No, with every fibre of my body!!”.
Flexibly is not a given these days, however common it has become. It is a personal flair (at work, it has to co-live with company policies): night owls shine after dusk, early birds excel at dawn, and the hybrids early owls 🦉like me live at their best at different times depending on the day (and quality of sleep).
It did, however, exposed the sheer difference between my last 5 years (high flexibility), and the previous 5 of my life (low flexibility). It can be translated geographically as well: a difference between my home country (Italy) and other countries I’ve lived in (Germany and New Zealand).
The underlining theme? I was given the choice (autonomy in neuroscience lingo terms). Autonomy has been linked to productivity: the higher the autonomy one has, the more productive they can be.
Autonomy can be defined as the ability to make choices according to one’s own free will. It is a key driver of human behavior: we seem to be hard-wired to desire autonomy.
Restrictions on our autonomy may well be the culprit of our unhappiness!
And yes, it has got that full 50-shades-of-colour meaning it is not black and white. In certain situations (like if your work requires you in person) your autonomy may be rightfully limited: imagine an ICU nurse trying to work from home.
When it comes to striking our work/life balance correctly, we’d better include autonomy as a weighing factor.
So, if you are experiencing dissatisfaction or that languishing feeling that can be translated with a “Meh”, here are a few questions you can ask yourself:
- What can you decide on?
- What can you not decide on?
- How do the two relate to each other?
- How do you feel when someone tells you to do something vs you telling yourself?
Having the flexibility to structure your day is then crucial: also when it comes to your Leisure time!!