Differences Between Work-Life Balance In Eastern And Western Cultures

When it comes to work-life balance, Asian and Western cultures usually have different ways of discovering it.

For many years in Australia, I’ve juggled working a day job, chasing a writing career and making time for things on the personal and home front. Sometimes it feels like I’ve got too many things work and play-wise to do.

Work to play or play to work. Or both | Weekly Photo Challenge: Experimental.

Work to play or play to work. Or both | Weekly Photo Challenge: Experimental.

Finding a work-life balance is arguably about juggling needs and wants. According to Safework SA, work life balance is ‘the relationship between your work and the commitments in the rest of your life, and how they impact on one another’. Finding a work-life balance often means organising time for things you want to do, and have to do whether you like it or not because it may impact the former and vice-versa – and trying to discover that ever elusive feeling called satisfaction all round.

There’s no definitive means to measure the ideal work-life balance. Each of us has different priorities. At different points in our lives we’ll have different priorities. Each of us will live out the notion of work-life balance differently at different times in different parts of the world among different cultures.

In Asian cultures, there seems to be a strong focus on working to make a living. It’s not uncommon to hear of longer working hours in the corporate world in Asia compared to the Western world. In 2016, UK-based B2B marketplace Expert Market looked at 71 city hubs around the world: those in the 10 lowest work-life balance cities (Dubai, Bangkok, Hong Kong) work over 2,000 hours per year in the office, whereas those in the top 10 cities which are all European cities work around 1,600 hours per year.

Similarly, not-for-profit organisation Catalyst surveyed 1,834 multinational female and male employees across South-East Asia and found 64% of them stressed the importance of furthering fledging careers. Commonly among Asian cultures, working hard to attain job security and earning one’s own stripes – by showing up and doing the work – are markers of professional achievement, pride and status.

The more hours one works on the job to earn a living, the more one might be labelled a workaholic. Growing up in Singapore, I watched my dad come home late from the office most nights and work Saturdays – it’s all part of the job, he always said.

Some of us work hard for what we want.

Some of us work hard for what we want.

Consequently, some Asians typically lean towards upholding a hardworking ethic and getting things done – perhaps getting things done as soon as possible too. Conversely, Westerners are commonly regarded as more relaxed, just like how many Australians are regarded as laid-back. Today in parts of modern Spain, Italy and Mexico, siestas or naps in the middle of work are still common, which is usually unheard of in Asian cities. This is not to say other ethnic groups don’t care about working hard; to be hired for any job, you have to do that job to stay hired. However, you can work hard and work smart, and still get the job done. That is, you can work your way to the top, or play your way to the top. Or both.

Doing things now is my motto. If it’s possible, I’ll get things done right now, ASAP, way ahead before deadlines at work. To me, this is a good use of time: show up to work, finish things now, move on to something else at work or go home.

In Western cultures there seems to be more of a focus on looking after one’s health and well-being on the job. While sick leave entitlement is the norm (in most corporate full-time jobs) across the world, it’s those in the Western world who are more likely to use it. A study by PwC shows Australians take the most ‘sickies’ a year at 10 days (some using these days for non-legitimate reasons), with those in the UK taking an average of 9.1 sick days and in Asia 2.2 days.

Then there is also personal, maternity and compassionate kinds of leave (varying across the world), and many of us take them when we have to. No matter who we are, sometimes we work because we have and want to. But sometimes we simply can’t because other parts of life calls with stronger conviction.

Some of us prefer to take life easy.

Some of us prefer to take life easy.

The Western world seems more enthusiastic about taking time off work to enjoy doing what they want. Office workers in New York, Sydney, Moscow and Helsinki take more than 25 days of vacation days on average a year, while 15 vacation days is more common in Jakarta, Taipei, China and Bangkok. That said, roughly 61% of Americans work on vacation and 81% high paying finance professionals in Singapore prefer staying contactable while on leave. Perhaps more of us are workaholics more than we like to admit.

Notably, how much annual leave one gets to take at a stretch depends on individual job requirements and whether it’s peak period in the industry one works in. Some of us might work multiple jobs or do shift work, for instance work in a café by day and club by night – which might mean keeping both jobs to make ends meet may be more important than taking an extended vacation.

At one point in my life, I worked contract and casual jobs. These kinds of jobs didn’t come with leave entitlements but once I finished up a contract, there was time before the next one. One could call this my ‘gap years’, which is usually defined as taking a break in between studies; it’s something many Australians like to do.

*  *  *

Not everyone fits the stereotype. How hard one decides to work or play depends on what they want out of life. For instance, today many employees in Singapore value work-life balance more: millennials here want to travel and spend weekends doing non-work activities. On the other hand, these days more and more Australians work overtime and more prefer payment over time in lieu – finding it harder to achieve a work-life balance.

Balance is an elusive illusion.

Balance is an elusive illusion.

Most of the time we need reasons to live ‘life’ if we were to get away from the fair bit of hours we put in in the office. We might work certain hours or days so we can care for someone. Or study to better our skills on the job or elsewhere. Or take part in cultural occasions. What might be ‘work’ to someone might not be ‘work’ to others, and the same thing can be said about ‘life’.

However the line between work and play can be a fine one, especially when it comes to doing something you love for a living. Work can be play and play can be work. For some this might be the ideal life: work at something you love, feel productive with a sense of purpose and feel good about yourself. We could be a full-time freelancer working odd hours making a living from stimulating passion projects. Or an entrepreneur who built their booming business passionately from the ground up. Or we could work in a corporate office job that we simply love and don’t mind taking work home after hours.

On the other hand, some of us might prefer work and play to be distinct: show up to a routine day job we might have half a heart for, turn up to practice passion elsewhere after hours. Two different worlds, two different worlds to learn from whether we like them or not.

Life is a series of ups and downs, of different chapters and moments.

Life is a series of ups and downs, of different chapters and moments.

The notion of ‘balance’ is subjective. The Oxford Dictionary defines balance as a ‘situation where elements are in harmonious proportion, and presence of mental and emotional stability’. However, nothing is perfect and so ‘balance’ is arguably an elusive illusion, and so is satisfaction too as we go after the shadow of perfection. Entrepreneur William Vanderbloemen suggests our life happens in seasons, in work-life rhythms. Some moments will be better than others. Almost anything that we do work or play-wise might turn out how we never imagined. As author Alain de Botton said:

‘There is no such thing as work-life balance. Everything worth fighting for unbalances your life.’

Work hard. Play hard. Live the best of both worlds.

Work hard. Play hard. Live the best of both worlds.

At different times of our lives, we’ll have different priorities, different definitions of success and so different wants and needs. At different times of our lives we’ll have different approaches to work and play – perhaps work to work, work to play, play to play, or play to work.

There’s meaning in everything you do if you commit to it, work or play, like it or not.

Do you juggle work and play well?


221 thoughts on “Differences Between Work-Life Balance In Eastern And Western Cultures

  1. I love the topic of work/life balance as it is so interesting and can be quite controversial. I remember I wrote a post about this a couple of years ago and a lady responded saying how I made it sound so simple to take time for myself but she wasn’t in the same position to. She had to work hard or she couldn’t make ends meet. It made me sad but I understood that we all came from different economic backgrounds. I am lucky enough to create a healthy work/life balance. I’ve never needed to work more hours than expected to make more money. I believe that there is so much more to life than work. Work fuels my passions outside of it. But some really enjoy working and as you mentioned in Asian culture, it is seen as the right thing to do – fulfilling a duty and providing for family which is honourable. I believe if you are efficient and organised, you can definitely have a greater work/life balance. Get all your pressing tasks out the way and you can enjoy an hour lunch break in the sun. Meet your deadlines and you won’t feel you have to stay back. Again this comes down to personal preferences and individual working styles. What matters most at the end of the day is our health. Are we getting enough sleep? Are we eating well so we have the energy to endure the long work hours of the day and of course, are we happy? Miss you my friend – thank you for another wonderful and well-researched post. I certainly feel that Italy has the right idea with siestas 🙂 more time for family and productivity is much higher because of it.

    Liked by 2 people

    • You don’t know how much I love this comment, my friend. Thank you so much. It was so well thought out and phrased 😢 You are so right in saying that work-life balance is a controversial topic, and very happy for you that you are happy with how much you put in with work and personal life. ‘Work fuels my passions outside of it. ‘ You summed it up so well, so much that I ever did! Each part our life usually fuels the other parts. At times life is give and take, and some moments will challenge us much more.

      Agreed that circumstances personal preferences and also presonality impacts how we work and play, how we organise and spend our time. But definitely agree health and happiness is the most important. Feel good, anything is then possible. Maybe simplicity really is the key. Focus on what really is important and take it from there, take what comes along.

      Once again, thank you so much my friend. I am so glad that we crossed paths 😊💙

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I might buy your argument that some of the differences in work-life priorities are cultural or geographic, but I think it may have to do with personality type, industry type, city size, and some other factors as well. Here in the U.S., there are many jobs that fully expect very long hours and little time off. They say you have vacation days, but in some jobs, people are afraid to take them for fear of not looking like that are committed enough. I think the term “Western” in this context is a little too broad; in Europe, work hours are definitely shorter and vacation time much longer than in the U.S., yet both are considered Western. But in both places, industries like law and finance might have completely different (more taxing) expectations than other jobs, so a finance executive in London might work much longer hours than a professor in New York!

    Although I have always been a perfectionistic employee who wants her work to be the very best it can be, I have also always fought against the idea that my paying job was the only thing that mattered. Health, happiness, and other people ultimately mean more to me, so I really do try to walk that tightrope between work-to-live and live-to-work!

    Liked by 2 people

    • You have a very articulate and valid point there, Lex. How we view our work-life priorities can depend on a number of factors, not just cultural (then again, cultural can influence our personality type and vice-versa…). I’ve always wondered about the work situation in the States and you seem to say what I’ve always heard about. Some work places there is just a lot of pressure to perform or there are only so many staff.

      There is only so much we can get out of just doing one thing. Interesting you say you’re kind of a perfectionist. I can see that side of you in your travels which are all so well-planned – and you make sure to get something out of each trip. Keep on working, keep on playing.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Mabel, you have brilliantly brought out the difference between work-life balance in eastern and western cultures. While there is a thin line between work and other commitments of life, how we handle both aspects depends on our temperament and attitude to life. Often imbalance tests our capabilities and it is quite challenging to keep the balance especially with little children and goals of success. Either become complacent or lose the precious moments that get poured into accomplishing our dreams of reaching the zenith. We may be having different priorities but family demands cannot be ignored.

    Corporate culture has enhanced competitive spirit and the hardworking ethics of Asians puts a lot of psychological pressure on them. Long hours of work and constant travel to fulfill the given targets take a toll on their health besides alienating them from their spouses/families. Plans of balancing work and life take a back seat as the day never comes and life passes by!

    A very difficult topic to write on dear friend, as all people have their own compulsions, setbacks and priorities. Thanks for shining a light on it. Stay blessed. 🙂


    • This is a very in-depth comment, Balroop, and from it certainly evident that you are speaking from your experiences. Personality and attitude does play a big part in how we go about managing both work and play, and also if we feel content – sometimes you can say it all depends on perspective.

      So true that things like family demands cannot be ignored, and special connections close to our heart. Sometimes these are the things you not only come home for, but live for.

      Very spot on you to say that corporate culture is competitive, and so many in the Asian world are competitive. It seems like such a fast-paced life, going from goal to goal climbing the corporate ladder. But ultimately there is only so much we can learn from doing one thing, and life is more than just about achievement after achievement. Sometimes, the simple things are the most important things.

      Thank you so much for your kindness as always, my friend. Stay well ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  4. If you add in trying to have a family, the work-life balance becomes even more difficult to achieve — especially for women. On the whole women do more domestic chores and emotional labor than men. Consequently, more of women are staying single, which gives them more control over their lives.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Family, and maybe add in a pet or two too and life will become hectic like you’ve never imagined. There is a gender conception surrounding the idea of work-life balance, which is a lot of talk about. Nothing wrong with women or anyone staying single or choosing to err on the side of kids – it’s their choice.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Great post Mabel. Getting a good working and living balance has been something I struggled with for many years. It wasn’t until five years ago when I was asked to move sideways to a position with no requirement for being on-call all the time and being available on weekends wasn’t necessary. For the first year or so I was still reading and replying to e-mails until all hours, but then I discovered social media and started making connections with people around the world. No I spend 10 hours a day at work Monday to Thursday and then do a free day at the hospital on Fridays. Every now and then I will need to do something at night or on the weekend and I’m only on-call one week in three. Life is so much more enjoyable. After work is my time to explore things like blogging and photography and podcasting. It feels like I have balance.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Ah, this topic. I have some personal problems with it. I want to travel more, but China doesn’t give many holidays and C. is very reluctant to even use his allotted days. I am currently trying to convince him to take some extra days off for Chinese New Year so we can go somewhere. If we travel during the exact CNY holidays, plane tickets are 4 or 5 times more expensive than usual.

    Based on my experience in China, it seems it is very important to just “be” at the workplace. But that doesn’t mean you are working… what if you are just sitting there? Isn’t it the same in Japan, where everybody stays overtime because it’s “bad” to leave before the boss does, even if you don’t have anything to do? For me, that’s wasting time. I do my job in the time allotted to it, and if I regularly needed more time to do the job that would mean one of 2 things: 1) I’m slacking off, or 2) the company is giving me more work than one person can do. Both situations are equally bad.

    Unless it’s your own business, doing extra hours (for free) only benefits the company owner, which should maybe hire more people and is saving a lot thanks to your unrecognised efforts. I am a very hardworking person and I always do my best, but I don’t like feeling like I’m being taken advantage of. Working unpaid extra hours is actually very common in Spain too, sadly. The attitude there is “You are very lucky you have a job, so if you don’t want to lose it, suck it up”. Of course, if it is a very small company, you see the boss is working as hard as everybody, there really are no more resources… then the situation is different. But I have never worked in a very small company.

    PS. Midday naps are very common in China! After people have lunch, they rest their heads on the desk and just sleep for a while. It’s amazing, haha. I wish I could sleep so easily.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I do hope you get to do some travel with C! It does sound like he works very hard. Yes, plane tickets are always sooo expensive around CNY. Everyone wants to go home, but also it’s time off for everyone at the same time so why not go somewhere 😀

      ‘to just “be” at the workplace’. Haha! It’s about your presence and showing face. If someone leaves early they can be seen as someone who isn’t a team player to the very end. I suppose some think ‘sit there, that’s moral support’. But if you just sit there and do nothing, definitely agree with you that is wasting time and not too productive.

      That said, I do think it’s nice to leave the workplace with your colleagues at the end of the day. For a long time I worked on phones in different places, and if I’m stuck on a call after hours sometimes my colleagues would stay until I finished (though I’m capable of locking up the office). Hard to explain such a nice, selfless gesture.

      ‘You are very lucky you have a job, so if you don’t want to lose it, suck it up’ Pretty much the same way here in Australia. It is so competitive to get a job here these days. You do have to work to get work. Haha, didn’t know naps were common during work in China! Nap more to work more afterwards!


  7. Your analysis of the view of work-life balance in Eastern vs. Western worlds is spot on! Coming from India, I had a very similar experience with my father as you. I think I definitely absorbed a lot of the work ethic. i am something of a perfectionist, work hard to accomplish as much as I can, very serious about meeting deadlines, doing (sometimes more than) my fair in a group, etc. But work for me was also fun! I enjoy doing science, I enjoy teaching, so working for those felt like I was just feeding my passions. I definitely think my relationships with friends and family kind of suffered for this attitude though. I only realized the importance of work-life balance after I developed fibromyalgia and was forced to slow down. And to be honest, I am quite enjoying having time for my hobbies now! I am embracing the “Western” attitudes more of working your hours and your fair share, but not to death, and not being apologetic for taking time off when needed. It has been an important life lesson learning experience for me actually! But as others pointed out, “Western” is very broad. In the US, there is a general tendency to value work and money (material possessions in general) over work-life balance (hobbies, vacations, family time, etc.). I think the focus on having a life outside of work is much greater in Europe. Still, compared to the level of work in India, I think corporations even in the US expect relatively less out of you, and I am so grateful for that!

    Liked by 2 people

    • This is such a spirited comment. From reading and following your blog, I can see how you can be a perfectionist – there’s always structure and rigidness in the academic world and science is definitive in many ways. Sorry to hear that for a while your relationships suffered but you realised what was best for you when you had fibromyalgia. Sometimes it takes some life-changing, life-will-never-be-the-same event to make you realise there is more than just work, more than just doing just one thing. ‘not being apologetic for taking time off when needed’ You said it very well. When we need time off, we need time off for the best of ourselves and well-being, physically, mentally and emotionally.

      True that Western can be pretty broad. Even Asian is a very broad term. They are both umbrella terms with common steretypes associated with them. Without work and a steady income, life can be very hard. But also without time for ourselves, life would be hard too.

      Thank you so much. This was really a great comment to read 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Good to hear from you again, Mabel. I hope this means you are well, or at least managing.

    I can believe the statistics and stereotypes that Asians tend to work for longer than Caucasians. It’s probably worth noting that longer doesn’t necessarily mean better. There are diminishing returns when one works too long – I distinctly remember in my previous job, getting stuck on a bug or some other problem late in the evening and my boss would say, ‘go home, mate, we’ll sort it out tomorrow’. I loathe to go home leaving a job unfinished, but almost always I would come back in the next morning, look at the problem with fresh eyes and be able to fix the issue quickly (with or without help from my boss).

    It’s interesting that a motivator for the Asian hard-working ethic is to try to secure one’s employment – as though security is something that’s attainable (nothing is ever really secure). Still, I suppose if one demonstrates that one is capable, competent, and committed (oh dear, another unintentional alliteration), an employer may be more inclined to keep said worker and look to someone else if the time comes to ‘down-size’ a team. On the other hand, I think in western cultures where authority figures like employers can be less well-respected, a worker may not care to push him or herself to work as hard as they could and be more inclined to only do the bare minimum required of them.

    Your post is timely, just last week I had the misfortune of suffering my longest work days ever. Ironically, I had just managed to get Monday and Tuesday off as time-off-in-lieu for working too hard/long already. On Wednesday I started before 6 am as usual and managed to leave for home at around 3 pm (not bad so far). I was on-call this week so I attended to something when I was called at 6 pm. Wednesday night happens to be the one night of the week when I’m regularly out with my church community group, but that only starts at about 7:45 pm, so I managed to finish that before leaving, thinking everything would turn out okay. But on my way to join my friends, I got a message requesting me to join a call so I had to turn around and go back home again. Very unhappy at having to miss out, but I did so and found the Executive Manager decided to push through an emergency change to mitigate the issues we were encountering. That didn’t finish until after 2 am, by which time I was hungry but had nothing ready to eat so I had to cook. I didn’t get to bed until after 3 am. Thanks to the neighbours’ dog I woke up at half-past nine and worked at home till fairly late on Thursday as well. Even at the end of this week, I’m still struggling to recover from that.

    Granted, that was a pretty unusual and extremely rare occurrence. But unusual as that was, like you, I also tend to work longer than required as a matter of course. Like you, I also like to get things done now, or sooner rather than later. I’d much rather finish something before leaving, than have that thing hanging over me all night and have to deal with it in the morning (this goes back to what I wrote above with my previous job). Often I’d think about trying to leave early for a change but then something comes up in the afternoon that compels me to stay back!

    On the other hand, I know the value of taking a break. I wished I was able to do it as often as I used to, but previously I would take a break around lunch time and go for a walk to the Botanic Gardens, have a nap and then make my way back to the office. Still, I can feel reluctant to taking time off to recuperate as I did this week (to try to rest from last week’s horror). I do notice from at least some of my Caucasian colleagues that they are more willing to take that break – legitimate or not – than I am.

    In many ways I enjoy my work and I often do things not strictly required of me because I want to make sure the systems my team is responsible for are working optimally and no-one can accuse us of doing the wrong thing. But I prefer not to mix work with play. I avoid giving away my personal number and I refuse to put work notifications on my phone (thankfully this is not required of me). I find it helpful that once I’m out of the office I can (usually) relax, and not have to think about work again till the next morning.

    Still, I’ve heard – and I think you alluded to it a little bit – some talk about the work/life ‘balance’ as being a false dichotomy. I’m reminded of the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Christians in Colossae, where he writes ‘whatever you do… do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus’. For me, this means there isn’t really a ‘me time’ vs ‘work time’. If I work, then I work diligently (however mundane the task), both to honour God and the arrangement my employer made in hiring me. If I have time away from work, it’s with thankfulness to God to be able to enjoy the good things he’s given. If I had a family of my own, I hope that would also have diligence in looking after my wife and children (honouring the marriage promises made before God) as well as I might do at work – hopefully fewer late nights than I have now! So in my context, the focus is more about living for God and other people over myself, rather than thinking about how to juggle ‘work time’ and ‘me time’. This will still look different for different people, there’s no right or wrong necessarily, and requires lots of good wisdom and judgement in that.

    I’m glad that you’re able to get your inspiration from some of those bad days at work and I’m glad you’re still writing here, at least for now. Thanks for another thoughtful post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Managing would be about the right word. Or getting by. It sounds like you are also managing.

      ‘longer doesn’t necessarily mean better’. This is so, so, so true and I think those of us who like to work until everything’s all done need to remember this. Physically and mentally we can only go so far, and at times you simply need more time to nut things out. I also don’t like having things unfinished and if I were your boss, I might have forced you to get your job done, solve that bug, that evening 😛 Of the times I’ve stayed back at work, the next day I come in and there would be unexpected work piling up.

      ‘Nothing is ever really secure…capable, competent, and committed’. Just like how everything is always uncertain. Oh dear, oh my, another great quip from you. I suppose if one is working in a corporate environment but they aren’t supportive of the corporate culture, then they may have less repect for the top dogs. However, I also feel that there is a more even-playing working field in Western cultures and get the impression authority figures are more approachable.

      It does sound like quite the last week you are having despite those two days in lieu. When work calls, work calls and it sounds like you are the kind to go above and beyond spontaneously – probably you do work out of heart rather than for pride or achievement. That’s how I perceive and do my job: do it not because I hit milestones but because something needs to be done and I can be the one to make a difference. In your situation, it sounds like your Executive Manager was every bit dedicated like to the task and hopefully everything turned out well. Most importantly, I do hope you feel much better from it and get to catch up with your church group and friends soon.

      It is great that you have your faith to help you put things into perspective when it comes to work-life balance – that whether you work or play, there is a purpose to both worlds. In short, no matter how cliched this is, there is a silver lining to each cloud. Living for something other than yourself is a humbling thing – and I’m guessing you let your faith guide you along in many ways.

      It will be interesting how the next year pans out for me work and play wise. For now, I will keep writing 🙂


      • Yeah, barely. I do wish you well, though, in spite of our circumstances.

        Ha ha, no, I was the one wanting to stay back to ‘get it done’, and my boss had the foresight to know that it was best left till the next morning. A lot of the time it was just me and him so we worked together pretty closely anyway. It was a good time, might still be there if the demand for research and development work was more stable.

        I have a lot of concerns about the direction the senior management in my current job is taking, though perhaps I’m making a fuss because I care, as opposed to just sitting back and taking their orders on face value. I can’t speak for Asian corporate culture as I’ve only been in an (western-cultured) Australian one but I don’t find our current senior management approachable (don’t even get so much as eye contact when passing by). My more immediate superiors are more relatable, though.

        Not really, the EM just demanded it right then and there, though in this case it was actually a good thing since it was something that needed his level of authority to push through. I would have been much more willing to do it if it wasn’t on a Wednesday night, but that is the nature of being on-call, I suppose. I was able to meet with the group as usual this week just gone by, at least.

        Yes, being the one to get things done can feel satisfying, and it’s good if you’re recognised for it. Somehow, these things seem to be forgotten when it’s time for performance review, and everyone seems to be ‘moderated’ to be equivalent to each other.

        Yes, that’s a key difference – we are inherently self-centred, left to my own devices I will seek my own interests first, but life works so much better when everyone lives for others before themselves. 😉

        Oh, I haven’t even thought about 2018 yet (aside from my April holiday, thankfully all booked and paid for). I know people are getting worked up about Christmas too, but I haven’t thought too much about that yet either. Day after day, week after week, month after month, it all seems to go very quickly, doesn’t it? I suppose that’s the nature of full-time work. I hope that you will keep writing here a bit even if something new comes up for you next year, but I know that you said you want to make a clean break if that happens. We’ll see!


        • Likewise, I really do wish you the best with your circumstances. You never know when another wave of work will hit like that. Yeah, I was thinking you wanted to get things done. And your boss sounds like the more relaxed one, lol. Sometimes the smaller the immediate team, the more easily you learn how to work with each other, learn about each other and appreciate how you choose to live your lives.

          I do sincerely hope things pan out well for you on the work front. In the past, at some places where I work senior management wouldn’t be all that approachable. In a way, that made me dislike my job and it just so happen for these jobs I couldn’t get out of there fast enough. In hindsight I would probably would have approached these situations differently, but then again, here I am here today where I am.

          That is great to hear that you got meet with your church group this week, and they must have been happy to see you 🙂 With working full time, a lot of us like to have something to look forward to after work, some kind of constant that keeps us grounded or at the very least to make us feel great. And it sounds like for you, that is your church group.

          I also agree with you on performance review, but to me it is also a formality. One can work and be constantly achieving: it helps the team but it also a message to yourself that you can not just achieve, but better yourself.

          Like you, I haven’t thought much about next year or Christmas. What I do know is that I do want to work on my book more amidst work and other things. The feeling to do the book is there, so hopefully I can go somewhere with that.


          • It’s not just work, of course, there are other things occupying my attention and many of them cause me grief and distress. But yes, prolonged hours at work don’t help the situation. I imagine it could be the same for you.

            My team in my current job is also quite small – was as large as 19 at one point but currently only 7. We’re pretty close-knit as we’ve all been together for a long time. Senior management changes, but this is the first time I’ve seen it go in a direction I strongly disagree with. Is it worth leaving over? Well, not yet – hoping to get to my tenth anniversary at least before taking that leap. Seems to me where you are now is still a pretty good place, and if you’ve managed to keep a roof over your head, clothes to wear, and food to eat, I’d say you’re doing well. Anything more than that is just a bonus. 😉

            We meet every week, at least during the school term. I’m usually there every week, it’s very rare for me to miss out, but I particularly needed the support on the week I had to work all night. Many are parents and so sometimes only one of the two can attend if the other has to look after kids. But it’s the main time we have to support each other and learn more about God together. As tired as I might be at the end of the day, I don’t regret going because I always feel better for having been in community. Faith in action, if you will.

            You still have a proof-reader here, if you need one. Hope you have time and energy to commit to some work on it in the near future!


            • It does sound like your immediate team is a small one, but I’ve heard of teams being that small in many work environments. Sometimes the smaller the team, the more you get to know each other – and maybe the more you can come together to voice your opinions to senior management. But in many places, senior management will be senior management, corporate will be corporate. Some things you just can’t change in the work place and you have to try to look at it in a positive way.

              To feel like one has a work-life balance, I reckon one has to look at the bigger picture. What you described there, ‘pretty good place’ is what I’ve been feeling for a while. I can pay my bills, I can blog at night, talk to people like you, YouTube/procrastinate doing my book 😀

              So good to hear that your church group are committed to attending despite being so busy with big commitments. It gives you and everyone something to look forward to, to talk about and focus on something else rather than yourselves, and feel a sense of purpose. Fate is a powerful thing.

              I really appreciate your kind gesture, and thank you for reminding me to write…in a way. I do hope you can proof-read my work when the time comes. And when that time comes, I think we’ll both probably not see it coming 😀


              • It’s small compared to what we’ve been used to in the past, and the workload hasn’t changed that much. It’s also small compared to what I’ve heard of other teams in the company – some of them supposedly number in the dozens, but I suppose they are probably sub-divided into pods according to the particular tasks and/or projects they are assigned to. Middle management is at least willing to listen to my concerns, but it looks like their hands are really tied because senior management have been led to believe a certain direction is the ‘best’ way to go about something and are not willing to listen to any countering opinions or alternative ideas. That seems pretty short-sighted to me, but once our internal customers realise we can’t do any real work (because of these new rules) hopefully senior management will understand that what they instituted really was a BadIdea™ after all.

                I usually remind myself of that quite frequently, albeit more in the context of contentment than ‘balance’. Focus on the good things God has already given me, instead of weeping over what I don’t have. Procrastination sounds fun. Reminds me of the Piled Higher and Deeper (PhD) comics.

                Nothing better in this world worth committing to, in my opinion. 😉

                Hope to be of some help to you. Incidentally, last night I was writing down some extra thoughts I had on some story ideas I’d been working on occasions since 2011. Seems the last update was in 2014, but the outline is several pages long. If I lack creativity in the visual arts, then that’s even more the case for the literary arts, so I don’t really have any intention of writing a full-fledged novel but it’s something I have fun tinkering with from time to time. Reading through my notes was like watching a movie I hadn’t seen in a long time. I know you’re writing non-fiction, but maybe when you’re ready to finish your book it will be a fun surprise like that.


                • There is only so much you can change in the corporate world, and I think a lot of the time – and in any workplace where you aren’t 100% happy with your role – that you are just a pawn in the grander scheme of things from the organisation’s end goalIt’s good that middle management are willing to listen to your thoughts, but at the end of the day, they also have their own priorities. It does sound pessimistic but that’s reality. However I do believe if we work hard enough and keep hoping enough and speaking out, things will fall into place – at this place, or maybe some other place where we end up.

                  Maybe you do still have that creative side in you after all. Writing fiction is probably easier because anything goes, and with non-fiction you do need a degree of logic to come across as convincing. I do hope you found some meaning from what you read and wrote all those years ago. Just last night, I happened to sit down and look at my book draft once again, and then decided to write down what topics matter to me. Funny how it seems I’m repeating myself a lot on here and in my book – then again, that can be a sign of certainty within personality. In a way, that is also you – knowing that you have your creative side.


                  • I suppose, in the end, I just want to do my job and do it well. I’m not being permitted to do my job well, which just confounds me, but I suppose it is the first job I’ve had in a large corporate environment (albeit one I’ve been in for more than 7.5 years). I concede the reality of where we are, but doesn’t mean I’m going to stop speaking up for better ways of doing things.

                    Writing fiction might seem easy if you stray from rules of logic. Writing *good* fiction is something else entirely. Maybe it’s a sign that you need to keep working on your book. 😉


                    • ‘in the end, I just want to do my job and do it well.’ Reading this line made me feel so sad 😦 It really does sound like you and I do hope your team rides through this wave. I also feel that line applies to me – work isn’t perfect, but I do want to do not my best, but the best.

                      I have been stuck on my book for along time as much as it’s been relaxing, lol. It is going very, very slow. That is all I can really describe about it at the moment.


  9. I think work life balance would come from different points of your life. When I was younger, I slogged away like crazy at my first job as that was the culture in my office. I threw in the towel when I started burning out and I learnt my lesson from that experience. Now, I try to provide a balance of both, working hard but also having some time to myself, especially on weekends. Not saying there were not times when I had to work on a Saturday or overtime but this didn’t happen too frequently so I just dealt with it. I have worked with Australian or UK companies but I can’t comment much on the work culture there since I wasn’t part of the company. I would admit that there were times I was envious of their working hours and work flexibility such as part time hours or long maternity leave (not that I would need any maternity leave though!) hahaha…I think your company work culture is very important when it comes to having a work life balance…or at least having a boss who understands this can be equally important…😄

    Liked by 1 person

    • It sounds like you are a very hard worker who never disappoints 😀 You are spot on, the work culture and understanding bosses can play a part in whether you can achieve a work-life balance – sometimes you are just needed at a job.

      Hope you get to enjoy each and every weekend now, and maybe also travel again at some point. I am enjoying following your travel posts, and on these trips it does sound like you played a lot 😄

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hahahahaha, I think a hard worker is pretty subjective but I would think I’ve earned my pay at the very least. My company now is not bad, I get to enjoy my weekends most of the time…hehe…Yeah, I have itchy feet, if not for work and the lack of funds, I would have spent too much time on travel..haha

        Hope you get to enjoy your weekends too! 🙂


        • Sometimes you just can’t avoid the urge to get up and go, do your own thing. Nothing like doing what you like, whenever you like, wherever you like. Travel can make you feel that way if you like getting lost in the unknown. Hope you get to travel more at some point 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

  10. In answer to your question, NO. My husband and I are not Asian, but we are New Englanders. And New Englanders are known to have a pretty rigorous work ethic, unlike other parts of the US mainland, most of them in the western half. We are workers. And we enjoy work, we’ve decided. If we want to take a day to ‘play,’ that’s what we do. But that time off often ends up being time enjoying our home, interspersed with projects. And I think that’s the balance. Work, relax. Work some more, relax. What is this ‘play’ you speak of? 😉

    Good post, Mabel. Lots of food for thought here. Aloha ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I’ve seen people who work long hours because they want to be seen working long hours and people who are afraid to take their vacation because their boss might think they’re not serious. I also know people who work long hours because they believe in the value of the work they’re doing and want to do a good job. Then there are the people who work long hours and maybe two or three jobs so they can feed their children. No matter what the reason for working long hours, they all my struggle to have time for the rest of their life.

    It’s easier to feel you have work-life balance if you love your work, if you don’t give undo weight to what other people think, if you don’t require an expensive lifestyle, and if you’re well paid and free of debt. Even then, you need to think about it and consider what you really value.

    A good and thought-provoking post.

    Liked by 2 people

    • You’ve broken down the various reasons for working long hours very clearly, Nicki. The one about working hard so others will take them seriously – and also taking oneself seriously as a result – is interesting, especially working at the expense of something else like health and relationships.

      What each of values is certainly different. On the pessimistic side, I do think most of us won’t entirely love our jobs but we can all find a reason to turn up for them most days. That’s why play is so important in many ways if we’re in that situation.

      Always appreciate you stopping by, Nicki. Thank you.


  12. Another thought provoking post Mabel with a thousand words jostling for space 😀 First of all, I loved your photos especially of the busy street, (the musician and the two little girls) and your captions were amazing too – kudos. I am Asian too and hysterical about deadlines, always have been ahead of them. But now I am totally chilled out like Douglas Adams said “I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.” 😀

    Like someone commented, we can’t always afford the luxury of a work life balance. Moreover in our culture, the individual is not important, the society is, it is not about what makes me happy but what makes others happy and if you get squished in the process so be it. But then those were times of scarcity and any other approach would have meant destruction of an entire family even if one strayed from the path. Things are changing but slowing with some parents who have suffered and squashed their own ambitions give that freedom to their children. Or expect to live their dreams through their children with sometimes disastrous consequences.

    I like your statement about changing priorities too. When I had joined college, a professor had remarked nothing changes in life only priorities do. I hadnt understood then but it makes complete sense now.
    I am an expert juggler balancing academics job home in-laws kid health kitchen not to mention the other half. But now I feel like taking a slower pace, taking up another profession – ringmaster maybe. Nahh too much work eh? Just stare into space would be more my kinda thing nowadays 😀

    By the way – I had my long awaited burger today and it was quite an event, will reserve it for another time! Have a great weekend 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • ‘with a thousand words jostling for space’ LOL you started your humour very early on in your comment. Right out swinging 😀 I totally imagine you as chilled out. From your blog and especially your blog photos, it seems that you admire what’s around you and take it easy when you are not at work (especially savour the good food) 😀

      And then you tell it like it is: ‘if you get squished in the process so be it.’ But as you said, times are changing. If one is not happy, that can make others at work and at home not happy. Work and keep working might just build up frustration within you, especially if you don’t like your job very much.

      Ringmaster? I think you will be perfect at that role! 😀 Don’t know what you are waiting for. You really should go for it and maybe one day you will be famous for it. You forgot to add that you are also blogger who blogs so often too. Very expert at that.

      It sounds like you didn’t give the burger a chance to eat you. Maybe one day you will tell us about it 😀 No burger for me this weekend. No. You had my share 😀


  13. Interesting as always Mabel. I’m not really sure I agree with your thoughts about Eastern vs Western world work-life balance. Rather I think there is much more variety of perspective in every area of the world and you will find the balance is different based on the individual rather than the whole. Here in the states it seems to me the difference is more likely based on the industry vs the location. For example in the technology business most employees work many many hours beyond 8/day, 5 days/week, while factory and hospitality workers seem to clock in and out on schedules. On the other hand, many of the former seem to love their work and don’t mind the extra commitment.

    Liked by 1 person

    • ‘balance is different based on the individual rather than the whole’ This is so true. At the end of the day, how much we commit to work or play depends on what we want to do, and what life demands of us. And that changes over time. Hope get to go out and play with your camera more, Tina. Always enjoying your shots 🙂


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  15. Interesting post, Mabel. The general differences you list between western and eastern thought on working hold a lot of truth. At the end of the day, though, I think they’re just generalities. I agree with LexKlein that many people in the States don’t take any vacations for fear of looking uncommitted. We also have to “earn” our time. I don’t have any vacation time at all at my current job because I don’t have a “permanent” position. That means every time we have a holiday I am penalized financially… From what I’ve seen Australians actually have it pretty good vacation-wise. My friend Khoa who lives in Adelaide typically gets a full month off every year… And it also depends on the industry. My father is a physician who works 80+ hours every week. His work is never done, and he rarely takes time off.

    Interesting topic!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I can understand where you are coming from. For a long time I was contracting and had to make sure I could financially make it through holidays. Maybe at some point the working front will be more stable for you, and you can take some decent time off. I do remember you love to travel, like how you enjoyed living abroad so much 🙂

      You are correct. In Australia if you work full-time in the public service or for a reputable organisation, generally you get four weeks off per year. It is a fair bit. But more time off doesn’t usually hurt…

      Thanks so much for stopping by, Jess. Hope things are on the steady for you ❤


  16. Achieving a good work life balance is difficult at certain times. It seems that there is a constant push to increase productivity at work, yet if we work too much overtime where is the incentive for the boss to hire more workers when other workers leave? If bosses want things done above and beyond they ask a busy diligent person. If you work too much and have no respite, are you more productive or about the same as others but spread over longer hours? I think flexibility is the best approach to this. If there was a big important project or reason to stay at work then sure Stay late but staying late every day could leave a person tired and lacking in energy for creativity. I have heard many people who are dying lament the long hours spent at work and wish they had spent more time with family when so many say this it is something to think about.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think whether or not the boss can hire more employers depends on budget and resources. No budget, no hire, everyone needs to work harder.

      Definitely agree that working long hours can leave a person tired – we are only human, we can only push ourselves so much physically, mentally and emotionally. Even if you love your job heaps, there is a time to let go.

      A lot of us see productivity as making some kind of progress, or finishing something and moving on to something else. To me, that is how I perceive productivity…but getting to that stage, there are many ways and probably ways different for each of us depending on personality and circumstances.


      • Absolutely, circumstances can be very individual and I am making a generalisation about managers who have key performance indicators based on saving money. They receive bonuses for reducing expenditure whilst thrashing their workers too hard or not hiring more staff when others leave. They know the remaining workers will get the work done somehow. It is a win win for them. How can we guard against that when there is any monetary incentive for the manager to do this and a highly motivated workforce. Eventually, more staff leave or burn out. Which equals low morale and lower overall productivity. Happy staff might work harder overall and for longer (generally speaking)


        • That is true. Remaining workers will need to do what they can do get things done – it’s part of the job, sadly. In some work places it’s all about hitting targets and milestones, and employee well-being gets put the the wayside. Low morale, low productivity often equates to a toxic environment and the only thing holding the team together might be your fellow colleagues who are understanding and great people in general, are in the same boat. At the end of the day, we all need at least a bit of play to find a reason to work where we work, and vice-versa.


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  18. I would love to work outside the home but because of disability and living in a small town these days, it just isn’t going to happen. When I lived in a big city I had a job I enjoyed. I would have worked overtime but because it was a government job, overtime wasn’t allowed. Although I am definitely a Westerner, I have always put work before play. Work has never felt like drudgery to me either.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is interesting to hear that overtime isn’t allowed in government jobs over there (or at least your one). Sounds like you’ve always found purpose in your work, and so it isn’t drudgery to you. It sounds like these days you have writing to keep you occupied. Best of luck with that, and that you find meaning from it.


  19. I’ve come to the realization there is no point in working hard, beyond what your colleagues are doing at the same level/job. This is also because there is a limit to what a body can handle and you don’t want to risk that!

    Having said that, I am still like you – complete the work before or on time and then play. But it hasn’t paid me off as much as I wanted it to. So, I prefer to take it easy now and do what I feel comfortable with. I am still better than most around me!

    I love how West works, but it is also because they know East is taking care of their work now (offshoring). While people are on vacation here, my team in India slogs it out. They are used to it anyway. Maybe someday it will change.

    Liked by 1 person

    • In some ways, I do actually have to agree with you that there is no point in working hard. Work too hard and you end up hurting yourself and others around you. Work too hard and you might not even be productive. Doesn’t always pay off the way you want it to – and you said it rightfully.

      True that there is a lot of offshoring of jobs to the East. Someone has to watch the work so the world keeps moving. Good luck with things on the work front, Alok. Meantime, enjoy your vacation days too 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  20. Great piece Mabel (as usual). I try very hard to get a respectable work-life balance. I find it extremely difficult to say no to extra hours at work, because I enjoy the satisfaction of completing a job. Having said that – I work for time-in-lieu rather than overtime payment. This allows me to have some fun time when things are a little quieter at work. My wife and I are at a point in our lives where we are able to work part-time now (me 4 days/week and Lyne 3 days/week). It is most enjoyable to have a day at home by yourself to concentrate on a personal hobby or just read/write and enjoy the peace. Take care Mabel and enjoy whatever time off you get. Hug from Brissie for you 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • It sounds like if you are given a task, you will do it, go above and beyond and impress 😀 Don’t you love those days at work when they are quiet. I really love those days because it means I can either do different tasks or just kick back a bit and do what’s called ‘team bonding’, lol.

      So good to hear that you and Lyne work part-time, and get to enjoy a life outside of work. Make the most of it. Hugs right back from Melbs for you. First time since March that I’m looking at my blog in T-shirt and shorts. Summer, finally 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Haha – team bonding – my favourite time. Blogging in shorts and singlet is such an Aussie way to tell me that it is nice and warm 😊. You always bring a smile to my face Mabel and today was the Monday from hell, so I needed that – cheers 😊


        • Team bonding also involves meaningless chit-chat on the job…which in turn helps each other get along 😀 Hope it all picks up for you, Andy. Wishing you all the more good weather your way. About time you and I enjoyed it together over the blog world 😊

          Liked by 1 person

  21. I think I read an article (or rather, a research) about work-life balance in a handful of countries (that included Australia and Malaysia) recently. The lines surrounding the work-life balance has definitely blurred over the years. I guess it depends on what the person wants sometimes. For me, it’s going to be all work (since I don’t do very well with lots of vacation days). Then again, I won’t know much until I’m actually working in a corporate firm. I’m not sure why, but working as a casual employee and in a corporation have different levels of satisfaction and stress.

    “Doing things now is my motto. If it’s possible, I’ll get things done right now, ASAP, way ahead before deadlines at work – even if I don’t like what my boss gave me to do. To me, this is a good use of time: show up to work, finish things now, move on to something else at work or go home.” – This is definitely reminiscent of my working ethics too. I like to finish it way before the deadlines and if there’s extra time, look over it and see whether I can make it better. At least there’s a … sense of relief if it’s done on the spot or completed before the deadline.

    Then again, don’t forget to take some time out to relax. Being on the go all the time is never good for health, Mabel.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hope you don’t overwork in your last year. It does sound like a stressful time for you, and it’s great that you know have somewhat of a break before the next term comes up 🙂 To me, study is study and work is work. And play is always on a whole different level altogether. Often with work or study, you have to look at the bigger picture but with play, you can just focus on the moment and on yourself right now.

      Definitely agree with you that if you finish something before the deadline, you can have time to go over it and make changes. With play, there is no deadline. With my book, there is no deadline and well, I’m starting to realise that this might be an awfully long process. In the realm of play, sometimes you think you have all the time in the world. You may feel good, but you may not be productive. Hopefully I get going like you 😉 You show how it’s done 😀


      • Oh, I still have one more year to go before I can graduate. That’s true, but I function better when I’m on the go most of the time. =)

        I don’t think it’s the idea of having all the time in the world. It’s more like life got in the way, such as work, life, studies – those kind of things. There was no deadline for my book too, which was why it took about 5 – 6 years of rewriting and refining before I even considered publishing it. Hopefully, once it’s out there, it won’t take me that long to finish the second manuscript. =P


    • Less people doing more job, meas you can work harder 😀

      I am very touched that you like my photos, Joshi. And I think you are the only one who comes here for the photos. I look up to you and your photography a lot 🙂


  22. Mabel, you have brought up some interesting conversations here related to personal values, culture, and life design. I do think there is a difference between work culture in the U.S. and in Europe. An example of this can be found in vacation days and maternity leave. There are also many people around the world who work tirelessly without any benefits of health care or vacation. Those in this group don’t have the choices that I do as an educated professional. I am one of the lucky one.
    This line, “Each world so different, each one reminding me of the good and bad in the other, each world keeping me grounded.” makes me think that you are able to reflect on your experiences and your work choices. I am happy for you.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Work-life balance definition and proportionate division is cultural relativism — depends from who’s perspective.

    For sure, those in Asian countries must work harder. Frankly, some of the salaries are lower (and it’s not just because their local cost of living is always lower) which why the global firms in Western world are off-shoring certain jobs across the Pacific.

    The educational system prior to adult work life in Asian seems to foster tremendous hard focus on academic excellence for jobs and entrance into university /college either locally or overseas.

    For myself, I do believe in North America, a person goes through their career, with certain jobs that do require fits of longer hrs. just to finish a project or to meet deadline. I took work home and probably spent at least 10-20 hrs. per month for a period of several years, which isn’t a lot compared to others. But still it was time I chose without extra pay and thought that the work I was doing would grow certain skills and my broaden knowledge base. In North America, there’s enough people who take paid courses in evenings and weekends while they have a full-time job and maybe even raising children. Don’t forget that lifelong paid learning. My partner did his MBA part-time (after he graduated in civil engineering) while he had full-time career. It took him 7 yrs. to finish his MBA and thankfully before his children became a lot older.

    Sure I’ve taken work-specific courses at my own expense and participated in professional association volunteer work. All of this is work related. So working hard isn’t just the employee-defined work activity/task.

    I don’t fully agree with many years of unhealthy overtime for a person which results in depression, inability to think and feel in a healthy well-rounded way.

    Now you know why I’ve cycle-commuted to work. It’s a great, free destressor and distractor. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • So true that work-life balance depends on who’s perspective, where they’ve been and what they are used to. Could be your perspective, or from someone else looking in on another’s. The Western world offshoring jobs to Asian countries: thoes in Asian countries (with a higher poverty/unemployment rate) might see this as an opportunity for word, and hence work harder no matter how much or how little they are paid.

      Sounds like you are very much a dedicated worker at one point in your life, Jean. 10-20 hours a day is a long day, and hope you didn’t got to bed dreaming of doing more work. Maybe in the end you did broaden your skills and that opened up some doors. Doing study after work is not uncommon these days. A lot of people (varying geneations) I know do that to broaden their skills and it really is a good way to make one more employable. Your partner sounded like he juggled it very well.

      The professional courses and networking point you brought up is interesting. At times these things do take up your time outside of your regular work hours. That could make it harder to find time for yourself sometimes.

      Keep cycling, Jean 🙂


  24. Balance is the key to survival. 🙂 It’s hard to maintain a work and personal life balance. Back in the day, during my job in an entertainment agency, I used to clock unearthly hours. I suffered from quick burnout. I turned towards freelance writing and eventually quit that too because I didn’t have time to write for myself. 🙂 The blog was an experiment. I never thought much about it! I’ve been devoting more time to it only in the past year. And that’s why I’m so amazed by how do you do everything! Seriously, I need a course in time management. 🙂 Your photography is quickly matching your writing skills! Keep up the good work, Mabel! Hugs!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh wow! You used to work in the entertainment agency (I know this industry can be broad…but wow)! So sorry to hear that it didn’t work out, and freelance writing too 😦 Hopefully you have found something you at least don’t mind doing now 🙂

      That is so kind of you to say, Cheryl. Wouldn’t say I have the best time-management skills since I do procrastinate. If you love what you do enough and you find meaning within it, you’ll do it. No excuses. Looking forward to more blogs from you. You seem to manage blogging well – and you blog much more than me! You should be proud of how far you’ve come 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  25. I love your photos of the cello player 🙂 🙂 Don’t think I ever got the ‘balance’ right, Mabel. I’m just trying to get the most out of life and adjust to being back in the UK. Autumn colours lit by sunshine are special wherever you are.


    • I too love the shot of the cello player. They were very random shots that I took a few weekends ago, and didn’t think too much about them until this post 🙂 Hope the UK is treating you well and enjoy all those autumn colours. We are enjoying summer here in Australia 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  26. Love your shots as usual, Mabel. And you seem to be able to juggle all he balls in the world – at the same time…
    Balance, balance – has anyone ever managed that to perfection? I don’t think so. If somebody says he/she has, I bet they are either lying or deceiving themselves.
    I was born in the 1950’s, when the work moral was high and you always finished what you had started on – no matter what. That has been my way all throughout life. I have never left anything unfinished except some knittings and crochets…But this also means that I was burned out once, 2001, when I kept studying at the university, while finishing my old job and starting on a totally unknown (to me) new job with new people and huge responsibilities. After 8 weeks recovery, I could go back to work. I never gave up, but was clever enough to know I had to take that long break to heal. I spent those weeks sleeping and walking in the forest with my dog. I could not read anymore and could not do logical thinking.
    I think most westerners know that people in Asian countries work harder and longer than we do. For the reasons you write about. In many ways I believe this to be a good thing. If I should be a bit tough about this…I think the Western world is spoiled and has lost morals and ethics, and young people have too little to do in their spare time (or they have no job…) so they roam the streets and do stupid and foolish things.
    It seems you know how to manage all your doings and learnings, but I hope you are constantly listening to your body – it will tell you if you need a rest. My advice is of course to follow that voice.
    Wishing you a great week!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Another winning comment from you, Leya. You always hit the nail on the head and your point always comes across so clear. Always a joy to read what you write.

      You are so right. Perfect balance and perfection is not something achiveable. A load of baloney to me and I agree with you that anyone who say they have balance are deceiving themselves.

      It sounds like you are every bit the determined person and anyone who worked with you would probably find you such a great asset to the team – get things finished, play your part, inspire. Very wise of you to take timeout when you needed it. There is only so much we can handle. Sometimes walking away is just what we need to feel what’s important to us again and what matters to us. Your dog must have enjoyed those walks with you 🙂

      You are very brave to admit the Western world can be spoilt. That is something I agree with, and I’d also add ignorant and insulated to an extent. Time and time again in the news you’ll hear some Westerners disrespecting customs in another country, that is one example.

      I wouldn’t say I manage all that I do very well. If I did, I would have published my book by now… you can say that I’m taking it easy for quite a few nights…or spending all that time doing other things 😀 Always a pleasure chatting. Hope you have a lovely day.


      • Now you are all too kind, Mabel…thank you for heaping all that praise…I am just an ordinary, but determined person who tries to follow some good principles I have learned and believe in. Just like you. And about the young people I wrote …of course I did not mean that all young people are up to mischief. But if people do not get a proper job or education – they might get in trouble.
        I agree with you about being ignorant and insulated. One of the best remedies is travelling – you do not learn everything by reading, watching TV or the news. Walk right into the world. Work on being openminded.

        Hope you have a lovely day as well, Mabel – I will always love your writings – be sure to tell us where to get your book…


  27. You’ve shared so many insights regarding work and work ethics globally. Ozzies work hours/holidays differ to Americans. This was a “surprise” when we arrived. I do love the ‘siesta’ idea 🙂
    I think slowly there is a bridging between the cultures with the work ethic. Integration. Bit by bit. Not radical in either direction, but just under the surface.
    Stunning photos, the beach called to me!
    “Balance is an elusive illusion.” …and that, is Truth!

    America…in the 60′ -80’s the 9-5pm was common. We nearly all saw our fathers in the evening and weekends. They were integral, part of the family daily life. I honestly think that is, an important thing.
    When a spouse is dominantly work driven, working 60-80hrs + weekends, for decades; I can’t say that those types of hours, are highly recommended.
    People at work become the family…. the family become a chore, a job. That – becomes the norm.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I also like the ‘siesta’ idea. You could take a break when post-lunch slump hits 😀 However, for me I find once I get stuck into working something, momentum builds and I get more done when I keep going, non-stop.

      Interesting to hear how America lived a few decades ago, and that would be more so if there is a sole breadwinner, who would probably work long hours to make ends meet. So agree that people at work become family, and sometimes it is just so hard to leave a workplace like that. With a good team, you can pretty much do any task that comes at you.

      If you ever want to visit that beach, it’s down in Torquay, Jan Juc end 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  28. You’ve done a great job of explaining how hard it is to achieve balance, around the world, and within cultures. As you imply, cultural differences in viewpoints may be shifting as the world becomes more multinational/multicultural. Generational change is having an effect as well.

    Balance can be on a daily, weekly, yearly or even a lifetime scale. And everyone has different goals, that may change with time. Life wasn’t meant to be easy (as our former PM said). Or maybe it should be. I think many modern diseases are related to “imbalance”.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Dragon. I do think balance and perfectionism is hard to achieve. You are so right to quote our former PM in saying life isn’t easy. There will always be challenges, we won’t always get to have our cake and eat it. Sometimes, it really is a case of work hard, play hard.

      I think you play very hard whenever you have your camera in hand, going places. You are doing it right. At least playing right 🙂


  29. Siestas are a thing in mainland China, or at least southern China from my experience. I theorize it has to do with tropical climates; it gets hot and people need to nap in the afternoon.

    My observation has been that in China workers are encouraged to put in long hours but the time isn’t necessarily spent efficiently. One’s social life becomes hanging out with coworkers in the evenings, with a twelve-hour plus day dragged out in what would be better suited to less than eight hours. However, China is still a developing country and some things just aren’t figured out as opposed to the developed countries like (in)famously ‘workaholic’ countries like Singapore or South Korea or Japan.

    Work ethic is indeed a good thing in many regards, but just hope there’s more to life sometimes…

    I do sometimes wonder how society would change across all cultures if there was a Universal Basic Income, have you heard of that?

    Liked by 1 person

    • That is so interesting to hear in mainland China there are siestas. Come to think of it: I spent some time in wandering factories when I lived in Malaysia. Some factory workers would have a lie down during their lunch break.

      Great distinction between developed and less developed countries and their work culture. After-work drinks is part of many a job these days in the corporate world.

      Never heard of Universal Basic Income. Had to Google it. Seems that on one hand, everyone gets something financially to fall back on just, On the other hand, it seems to perpetuate the reliance on a welfare state.


  30. Being of the thought we are all ONE, I do not like stereotypes or classifying people according to race or geographical location. I know there is a lot of truth of what you have written here about, but you just cannot lump everyone into one neat category. I really enjoyed your article and can see you put a lot of time into it. Yet I reserve the right to disagree here and there. One thing that you said that stood out and I said that is not true is ….”Balance is an elusive illusion”. Mabel, I really disagree. I work so hard yet if I did not deliberately make time to have fun, to have time for me, to relax, to do what I LOVE, I would be bonkers right now. I strive for Balance. This is not something that just happens. You have to make it happen. I grew up in a “all work and no play” mentality which to this day I struggle with because I have feelings of guilt for laying on the couch with my eyes closed doing nothing. I border on the workaholic arena which I have been consciously changing to embrace more fun time. I incorporate those things that I Love, that bring me Joy and Peace, and those things that I know will assist me to get through each work related day, which is every day. I don’t get a vacation and haven’t had one in over 20 years. I take mini vacations by doing what I Love within every day. I do not mean you any disrespect and I accept the way you think and look at things. It is just not my way. 🤗

    Liked by 1 person

    • You have every right to disagree with me, Amy! And thank you for saying that so straight up to me. The honesty is refreshing 🙂 ‘I take mini vacations by doing what I Love within every day.’ This line of yours resonated with me. It reminded me of somewhere that I read, that people generally are happier with their lives by taking short breaks as opposed to long extended ones, and in the process make sure there is something to look forward to every day. This is something I have been working towards for a while now.

      Amy, you have earned it, earned a life of love and joy from coming out of the darkness and into the light that you now shine. It does sound like you’re one of those who are truly content with where they are, all that achieved from focusing on believing, dreaming and doing what’s important to you – and taking it easy when you need it. My hat’s off to you, and hope you keep living the way you do according to your own song ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      • You, young Lady, have given me a Gift, one that I am really thankful to you for. For you see, within my bio family I’m not allowed the “grace” to speak freely, much less disagree. My family gets offended or they twist my words around to mean something they were not meant to be. I was “nervous” speaking freely with you when I wrote my response. I was actually waiting for you to comment about what I wrote hoping I had not upset you. I “know” I have every right to disagree with you, yet I am still to this day overcoming what was pounded into my “belief system” that I don’t have the right to disagree. That by the way was considered controversy and I dare not cause a ruckus. THANK YOU! I wish I could hug you, looking at you in the eyes to say thank you, Mabel!
        And yes I am content with my life … I created it. Yet … it consists of a lot of hard work, sacrifice, and many days “wishing” I had not chosen what I had years ago. We all have choices yes even those who carry great responsibility upon their shoulders. We MUST take time out to play, to relax, to have fun, stepping away from our “burdens” to find the freedom to soar with the winds and laugh like a kid.
        I Intend for you such happiness from a source that is totally unexpected and when you do, I will come to my mind. This is my THANK YOU to you for the major assistance you have given to me, and your utmost acceptance of who I am. May you know Peace this day, dear friend. 🕊🤗


        • I do remember in a previous post of yours you mentioned that you weren’t close with your immediate blood-related family. Very sorry to hear that they didn’t allow you to express your mind honestly. It must have been suffocating, making you doubt yourself. Whenever you are here, you are free to express what you truly think, whether it’s different from what I think or not. You do have every right to disagree – and any different opinion gives another perspective we could all ponder about. So, thank YOU, for being you, for showing us how to be ourselves and find inner peace.

          I also find it very refreshing that you admit that you have had past wishes you wished you acted upon. That you have regrets but that helped you learn and appreciate what makes you happy today. I think we all have regrets, just that most of us are too afraid to admit it. Work, play, fall over, get back up again which you have shown us over and over.

          You are so, so kind to bestow me with such a ray of surprise sunshine. Hopefully it is full of joy and love 🙂 Wishing you well and nothing but sunshine your way ❤

          Liked by 1 person

  31. oh, I just love that last photo of the street musician and the girls 🙂
    on work-life balance, I think it is not always a matter of choice or geographic location.. you just have to do what you gotta do 🙂 and I think it is in our nature to always seek balance only to tip it again shortly after…

    Liked by 1 person

    • I also love the shot of the street musician and the girls. Didn’t think much of it when I took it, but when I wrote this post, I thought it was a good fit 🙂

      ‘You just have to do what you gotta do’ So well said, and I hope you get to do what you have to do…and also want to do 🙂


  32. So many people are struggling for work/life balance that it’s no wonder this blog post is receiving such attention Mabel – you’ve hit on a very timely topic and discussed it in-depth with an eye on the differences between cultures. I find I work too much but also love my work so it’s not really work, if that makes sense! 😉 OH I finished reading Lady by the River and loved your motivational write within it xx


    • It is great to hear that you enjoy your work so it doesn’t feel like a chore – and you can somehow look forward it every day. Balance is very hard to achieve for most of us, but if we keep doing what we like and find meaning in it, things will work out. Thank you so much for reading Lady By The River. Thank you for your kind words ❤


  33. Mabel as I have just been scrolling for several minutes through comments after reading your post I can see that you have really struck something with readers. I think no matter where one is in the world these days the quest for healthy balance is an arduous one. I have always worked part time and been fortuante to do so. Yet in the days of raising children there is the wondering about how many activities to put them in , shich classes are best, how many hours of vlunteer time whoudl one commit to in the schools. As the years have gone on and the children now grown technology has become a big part of my balance eq

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is very kind of you to scroll through the comments here, Sue. It feels like you are everyone’s friend.

      Sounds like you have always managed to live the life you want to life. My hat’s off to you. Time is of the essence, and sometimes you do need to wonder where to put your time and where to guide those you care about.

      Liked by 1 person

  34. ….(continued) balance equation. Social media can eat up time and energy like a voracious monster. I’m definitely off tangent but I think the balance isn’t just work and play. It is also what we do in our play time and is that healthy and rejuvenating. As always you have given me a great deal to ponder on Mabel.


    • …(continued) So true social media is a big time eater. And so is the blogging world. You know it 😉 Not off tanget at all but such an important point: WHAT we do. And how it makes us feel. Thank you so much for this perspective and reassurance.

      Liked by 1 person

  35. Dear Mabel,
    Such an in-depth post on work ethics, and how those across Asia work long hard hours..

    I think it is the drive to prosper.. We are ingrained in our cultures and upbringing, and usually follow the trend our families set us by their own examples.

    I worked from the aged of 15 leaving school to work in textiles, our working week was around 45 hour week when I started out.. Saturday morning were compulsory where I worked. Until legislation altered our weekly working hours in progressive years.

    I had five years off when my children were born, changing jobs, And when things got tough I would regularly work overtime for basic essentials, as our Mortgage rates were then at all all time high with 17% interest rates to be paid.

    I think it is not just down to culture, I think if there is drive to succeed, the will is found to go find a job and work hard.. I started work again when my husband firm made him redundant and he was unable to find suitable employment. I even took the children along to one interview to do a sewing test, for work to be sent to my home for sewing, for one of my jobs while my hubby tried to find work.
    Holidays we never were able to afford for the first seven years.

    Which meant later in years when things flourished we made the most of our leisure time as a family and would go on vacations to the coast.
    When the children left home we travelled abroad.. Now we are retired we make the most of every day, and enjoy our time of leisure.
    We’ve been lucky.

    While its important to be IN WORK.. it is also important not to Kill yourself through work..
    In later years I became a bit of workaholic and paid the price with pressures and a breakdown.. Which showed me where my priorities lay. And led me to change career paths from Textiles as a Training Manager to Support work. A move which I never regretted, But which had long unsociable hours and you could work Christmas Day, 😀 .. But the rewards were far greater than working in Production ..

    So you know I garden, Paint, write poetry and meditate.. lol… Balance at last.. But I guess I would not have changed my path.. For it taught me loads, and made me who I AM..

    Great Post, and sorry to blab on and on.. 😀 But you did ask.. hahahaha…
    Love and Hugs xxx Sue ❤ ❤ ❤


    • The drive to prosper…you might be on to something there, Sue. If it’s not for survival, then most of us aim to do something that makes us feel a sense of purpose.

      That is amazing of you to start working at such a young age, and working weekends too. It must be a job that spoke to you or something that you felt you needed to do. But good to hear that that was toned down and it would have allowed for more spare time 🙂

      It sounds like you have had ups and downs while going about work, and needing flexible work – and you made it work. These days I don’t think it’s too common to hear taking children to an interview, but back then I suppose that was the only option you had, and the work culture back then, the nature of your work and where you were seemed very much accommodating.

      Where there is challenges with work, there is always time outside work to look forward to. So sorry to hear work stressed you out at one point but good that you recognised that. Sometimes we have to go or be at the extremes to understand what really matters to us, what we want and what makes us happy. You DO do lot these days as you said…I do wonder how you manage it all together with your relationships, family and friends – probably your sixth sense guiding you 😀

      No need to apologise about blabbing. Your words were such a great read, and always very inspiring. Thank you for stopping by and sharing 🙂 ❤


  36. “When I was a kid and teen, I dreamt of becoming a full-time radio presenter and writer, working as a creative for a living.” This sentence really caught my eye. How wonderful that you still retain that imagined vision of what you wanted to be as a child, and I’m certain that vision leads you into the creative writing that you do now. It reminds me that I have done a lot of different things in my life, and I’m grateful for those opportunities. But I always feel at the core of the ventures I am doing, the ways I’m spending my time, I want to be able to make a difference in some way. Whether it’s finding a new solution to a mathematical problem (in grad. school) or helping students learn what they need to make the next step in their career journey (like teaching undergraduate statistics), or writing a piece that creates something new in the world (whether anyone sees it or not!), I’m at my best when it’s something with meaning. I’m sure that must be something like what you feel as well, at least from your writing! 🙂


    • Til this day I still think of becoming a radio presenter and writer full-time (I have been both at some point, wasn’t long lived), and wonder what my life would be like that. These visions do give me hope and remind me on how hard being a creative can be.

      It’s great that you have done different things in your life, Theresa. It’s amazing to hear you want to make a difference in some way, no matter how big or small in what you do. All round I suppose you learn from what you do, be it teaching or writing after hours. ‘ I’m at my best when it’s something with meaning.’ You summed up how I feel. Just earlier today I was doing something that I didn’t like but had to. Then later I came back to writing and I was much more content Either way, looking positively, both lead to opportunities. Hope you continue to do what you do and find meaning 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Oh, that search for meaning! We humans have that in common, I mean, as a universal experience. I love that you have tried the full-time radio presenter and writer and have decided, “no.” It sounds like me and college teaching – many aspects of which I find deeply satisfying, but overall it’s not for me. And just think of the impact your thoughtful blog writing is having on so many people. Kudos!

        Liked by 1 person

        • It was quite a shock to me when I decided ‘no’ to being a full-time writer. Even my friends were surprised, especially at turning away from making a career out of writing. It is so kind of you to say that my blog has an impact on others. Thank you 🙂

          It is lovely to hear you know what you love doing these days, both for a living and for your passion. It can take a while to figure out, some trial and error, but all of that is what gets us to where we are today.

          Liked by 1 person

  37. ‘There is no such thing as work-life balance. Everything worth fighting for unbalances your life.’
    I loved this quote, Mabel.
    It is interesting to note how the perceptions of work and play differ with cultures and also vary from one individual to another. Japanese are known to slog it out whereas Germans prefer working for shorter duration with astonishing efficiency. While work may not feel like work for a person pursuing a creative profession, others may strongly feel the need to stay away from work during the weekends.
    You have rightly pointed out that the notion of balance is subjective. Another vital point that you’ve mentioned is that work-play distribution preferences are changing with the times and in different geographies. Yes, non-creative jobs have an edge over creative pursuits in terms of stability and remuneration.
    Thanks for putting up this thought-provoking post on the elusive work-life balance.


    • It is so interesting indeed how we all have different perceptions of work and play. It all depends on our priorities and where we are at. I think you’re on to something there when you say we might enjoy working at something creative, but also still want time for ourselves and not do what we love doing all the time. To be honest, that is me with writing and blogging. I love it but sometimes I just want time away from it and just be. Just relax and do something else like what other normal people do, like watching a movie or playing a video game.

      Thank you so much for stopping by, Somali. You always have something insightful to stay.


  38. Mabel, good time to revisit the topic. A topic that has been perennially debated and every time we dissect the nuances of the topic we have nuggets of new wisdom confronting us, and you have as always brought some fascinating aspects of this topic.

    The debate has gained much more momentum with the digital age taking a bigger share of our life and the boundary of work getting new grounds to play with. Few decades back work was primarily limited to corporate world to government offices and there was those limitation of time with 9-5 hrs per day and 5-6 days a week was the norm which has been totally dismantled with the new age job scenario and with working and enjoying what we love to do are getting overlapped.

    When we say work-life balance as rightly pointed out there is this context of prioritizing and also the way it gets interpreted across different geographies from the East to the West, in other words there is different lens through which we look at this connection whether we are part of developing world or part of a developed world. In the later where things have evolved and where things have reached certain level of accomplishment, for people work has subsided to a large extent and life has taken the front seat, where people count on how they live their life, the quality of life and everyday counts. They want to complete enjoy their living and live for the present where in developing world where people are still trying to meet their both end meet are struggling and working hard to get the maximum out of work so that they can lead a better life in future, it is the future that drives their present and work becomes the predominate force and life follows that puling force.

    In other words when we look at this topic it boils down to passion and profession, if there is a convergent ground and the work becomes a delightful engagement, and if not we need to do the juggling act as most of us now attempting to do. Some are seeing success at the onset and others are waiting longer then they expected. Working in the day for earning the resources to live a normal life and dedicating the night for the passion keeps us awake in-spite of tiredness that builds up with the day’s hard work. The power of passion is unlimited and we need to discover that hidden source of energy that is there with all of us, only that we don’t look for it or we don’t know how tap that resource within. We need that trigger and we don’t know it can come from any corner and from any source, we have keep doing what we love doing…

    Thanks Mable for such passionately written thought provoking post, it has come out from your heart and blended with such nuanced researched on how many people across corporate world work (1600 hrs to 2000 hrs per year), this is a topic which is ever green and we all are trying the master that balance, and that itself is big job per se. I’m in caught in that crossroad hence taking longer time to come here and do what I love to do, read your beautiful thoughts but getting late every time now a days…

    Hope Mabel you had a lovely Sunday.
    Take Care!!!


    • Another poetic comment from you, Nihar. You always say the most thought-provoking things. True, the topics of work and play and work-life balance are very much debatable and there is always so much to say about each one. True these days work is no longer confined to the 9-5. As you said, there is more focus on play. I think with more focus on play, we are focused more on what we want and focus more on enjoying what we like. Some of us may call this selfish, but others will argue that we are looking after our own well-being.

      Whether we are living in the developing or developed world can indeed make us see the notion of work-life balance differently. ‘it is the future that drives their present’ Such a great way to put it for those of us working to be in a better place, be it to feel more comfortable in the developing world, or to find more time for what we really love when we work long hours in the developed world.

      ‘passion and profession’. I just love the alliteration there. It is sweet and a sweet spot when the two can find common ground, but that is not the case for many of us and you are correct in saying for most of us it is a juggling game. I am like what you described: putting so much energy into my day job that it makes me tired but the moment I go home, I feel a zing of energy again going back to blogging and writing. And this zing of energy is very much addictive 😀 I think you hit the nail on the head there: you can’t find this energy or passion but you just have to keep doing what you love in the moment – and do it for the moment and not for some future end goal because in the end, the future is uncertain and holds no promises.

      Hope things are okay on your end, Nihar. It sounds like you are very occupied and hope not overwhelmed. Looks like I am due for another visit by your place soon. I am hoping this weekend and hoping to bring along some words for you to ponder 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, Mabel there is so much to question and answer when we enter into the work-play debate, and it has so many shades and layers, we keep discovering newer facets as we juggle between the two fascinating aspects of life, and also there is so many different contexts. In today’s fast paced world and with virtual world making real world to stand up and recognize the invading power of the digital space. We have so much to do but we have the same 24 hrs at our disposal plus we have started looking at life tad differently then perhaps we used to look at life a decade back.

        Work is important but work is not the only thing in life and living life needs so many things to be put in place and working was the predominate force earlier now work remains the predominate force but the way we work and the way we blend play into work with so many things at our disposal, there has been a fundamental change in the workplace and also on the play ground…we are still learning the art of living life and this is going to build on with newer developments and big innovation that is hit us in such rapid pace.

        Yes, the pleasure of back home and back on the computer doing what we love to do is a delight and that becomes the motivator for doing what we do through the day for our living and then the love for what we do becomes the harbinger of major change in the way we look at life.

        Writing to blogging to creative work that keeps us meaningful engaged is what makes the art of living truly artistic and that is never easy given the routines and the repeatative work we need to be doing to perform tasks at work. There are few who have both the worlds merger at the same place and they are the fortunate lot but at the same time those of us who have to work out in two different places the work and the passion are equally fortunate then those who have yet to discover their love of life, the passion what keeps them awake and kicking…

        Everything is fine here Mabel and hope the same with you, and yes, little tied up on the work front and not able to do the justice to my passion front, and there is where this topic of yours have come a pleasant surprise.
        Thanks so much Mabel and have a lovely day ahead.


        • Shades and layers is such an apt phrase to describe every discussion, Nihar. I think you are right in saying that we have so much to do. With the modern and digital world, many of us have more opportunity and so have the potential to do more. And so we do more, professionally and personally. There is always risk of burnout on either side. How we manage both worlds is up to us and what we want to achieve, and how we feel.

          Agree work is not the only thing in life. Sometimes I see others so intent on chasing the next big thing just to get up to the next level or another playing professional field or another innovative level as you alluded to. It’s important to ask ourselves every now and then why are we moving from here and there work-wise, and ask ourselves if what we’re doing really makes us happy. Sometimes we might not like our work, but we might like our play that work allows us to do. Sometimes we might love our work but not our lives outside our work…and so life goes.

          Creative work is something that is so…satisfying. Don’t think there will ever be a word that describes what an amazing feeling it brings to the creative at heart. Some can certainly be lucky and have their creative work be the driving force of their lives. For those of us who don’t get to live this opportunity, we can only dream and keeping doing what we love when we can. And it’s not a bad thing. You give some, you take some.

          Looks like you have done justice to your passion over the last week. I see a new blog post on your side and am getting ready to come over for a visit 😀

          Liked by 1 person

          • It is said that we can do our work and do it religiously but not get stuck to the results we want and keep cribbing for not getting what we wanted. We simply have no control on the results that come our way and we have full control on the way we work and how much we can dedicate us for the work we have on hand and many times results come later and there is no immediate correlation of effort and result.

            Yes we get so obsessed with chasing the next big thing that we ignore the things on hand and what we have done so far and how to cherish those little moments and make hay while the sun is shining.

            Good to keep asking whether we are doing what we wanted to do and can we do it better and where are we going, is it the right direction and re-validating our path is equally important not just proceeding on the chosen path with determination.

            It is in the creative engagement that we get the alignment of body, mind and soul, and we reflect deep inside and we fathom the hidden facet of life lying in hibernation. Not always we get what we look out of our engagement in the creative work, we have to keep doing and we have to enjoy the process rather than keep waiting for the outcome and keep getting frustrated for things not turning out the way we have envisaged.
            Mabel, have a wonderful Sunday!!!


            • So, so, so true. In any instance we don’t fully have control over the results we will get, or how a certain thing we are doing will pan out. Over time we might also have to cut down our time doing something for one reason or another.

              It’s important to always question, and especially question why and what we are doing. We might not love what we are doing but we don’t mind it, and we have to ask can we live with that. For a lot of us, I think we are willing to take this path to make ends meet. For me, I will only do something if I feel a sense of purpose inwards.

              I love being in hibernation. It’s when I get the most craziest ideas 😀 Going back to the beginning of your comment, always important with creativity (and anything we do really) to keep doing and going and not worry about the end result, and doing other things too to keep up and stay afloat in life.

              Wishing you well this week 🙂

              Liked by 1 person

              • Yes Mabel, the power of questioning on what we do is is so important. It is only when we start examining things from different perspective that we evolve and obtain newer ways to achieving our ultimate goal. Doing is equally important unless we put our thoughts into positive actions we may get trapped in our contemplation which is good but not good enough to take us to our destination.

                Being in solitude, in state of hibernation makes us connect with self and I agree we get the best of ideas and we are suddenly in full control of things around us, life provides that beautiful window where we can see things differently and distinctly…

                Yes having a good weekend and hope you also did had a wonderful weekend.


                • Yes, doing is equally important because by doing, we show what we believe in – that is if we choose to do what we do genuinely, with honestly. Doing speaks volumes about not just what we are capable of, but who we are. And getting to know someone for who they are can turn into a connection you may need for either work or play at some other time in your life.

                  In hibernation away from both work and play, we come to just be and that is where our thoughts are most purest. And that is something very special. Always appreciate our philosophical chats, Nihar. They are one of a kind and I cannot thank you enough for chatting 😀

                  Liked by 1 person

                  • Mabel I must say always such a delight to start conversation with you and so much of good thoughts that get exchanged between us, and we have so much more to share and learn from each other.
                    As much as thought matters so much more the action that follows matters and good action for great thoughts make the work meaningfully engaging.
                    Thanks so much Mabel for being so kind in your words.
                    Take Care!!!


  39. Another great post, Mabel. I love reading all of your comments too. It’s not easy to find the ideal balance between work and play. You can’t enjoy your work if you don’t have other interests too. The trick is to find a way to combine the two so that they fit together seamlessly. Not easy, but entirely possible. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Sylvia. There are always some moments better suited for work and then for play. Finding a common ground is the sweet spot. You are right. It’s possible. We can dream and maybe it will come true one day 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  40. Hi Mabel – I read this earlier and could not comment (was not logged in at time) but enjoyed the stats on work – so interesting to hear some of those.

    and like how you started with it comes down to “juggling needs and wants” and then not everyone fits every stereotype. I also like how you said “turn up to practice passion elsewhere after hours” – ahhh – that can truly be a gift eh?
    and my thoughts…
    I feel that many people would do so much better with a four day workweek – four longer days as opposed to the five most get trapped into.
    I feel three days off can offer more rest.
    but then again – it depends on the person.
    but too often people max out their days off (with adventure and passion stuff) and then really cut their energy level – and in some cases a work schedule needs to be respected – i dunno –


  41. Another thought provoking topic, Mabel. When you say Western Culture, I believe you’re including parts of Europe? Sweden, Norway and Denmark, embrace a shorter work week and claim that studies have shown greater productivity as a result. North America, is a different story. WE seem to over-work and don’t take care of our personal health as well. There’s a real unspoken rule that we must be busy and be proud of not taking breaks or seeing family during the week to be successful. I don’t agree with this philosophy at all. Hm, maybe eastern culture is harder working? but not wiser. Just my own personal opinion. Great analysis and lots to ponder here.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was referring to European culture, too. Western is a bit of a broad concept, and so is stereotyping and that is how many of us tend to think. So interesting to hear some countries in Europe embrace shorter work-weeks. I am all for shorter work weeks, like a four-day work week as Y. Prior suggested.

      I do hope you don’t overwork, Lisa. But with the amount of writing you do, sounds like you manage your time well 🙂 Hope you had a great trip and you got back safe and sound. That is the most important 🙂


  42. “If it’s possible, I’ll get things done right now, ASAP, way ahead before deadlines . . .”

    That’s me! I am forgiving when others don’t meet deadlines but severely unforgiving of myself when I don’t. I get this from my mother who raised me with an incredibly strong and regimented work ethic.

    I try not to; however, sacrifice my health for my work. Physical, mental and spiritual health are other highly important priorities for my family.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s great that you want to get things done and meet deadlines – and when you do, you feel very much accomplished. A lot of people I know like to put off doing things until the last minute. Nothing wrong with that but I find it absolutely baffling – why wait when you can do it now.

      Health is so important, and so are those around us. Work, if it isn’t our passion, often isn’t a means to an end all the time.


  43. I might note that “balance” is extremely individual. When I was still working as a counselor, I worked longer hours than anyone else on my team, overall, but hen I was not at work I truly did not think of it and was not available to work further. My personal hone lief was mine and I loved being busy enjoying all my interests and my family. It worked out well. On the other hand. My spouse works about 12-14 hour days frequently and often 6-7 days a week in his position due to travelling/the nature of his work. He is definitely a workaholic yet also mostly loves his work. But when he comes home he likes to complains about the long hours which I then have to remind him that he is actually at liberty to set!:) So to each their own…(We are North American, by the way.)

    Liked by 1 person

  44. Speaking of Eastern culture, I worked for a children’s organization in India for a decade. It was my first job. There was no work-life balance since we were working long hours. The organization had a noble objective to end child slavery, and I was assisting the chairperson who was always busy (having toured 100+ nations). I left the organization in 2004. Almost ten years later, the chairperson won the Nobel peace prize. Though I was not in touch with the organization when he was awarded the Nobel, I congratulated him; and I personally felt a deep sense of satisfaction: that all of those years of hard work had contributed one way or the other — that the absence of work-life balance had amounted to something (because after he became a Nobel laureate, the world began to focus on child labor and how to end it). “For some this might be the ideal life: work at something you love, feel productive with a sense of purpose and feel good about yourself” – the chairperson (and many of us) loved what he was doing since it was both his work and life (his passion).

    It’s true that work-life balance is given a lot of importance in the West. 9 to 5 job means 9 to 5 for most. And for this reason perhaps, employees are not embarrassed to admit that they were laid off – unlike in the East where (most) employees give it their all also (primarily) to save their jobs and the embarrassment. Job termination carried so much shame with it.

    Though employers here are more understanding of the needs of their employees, they fail big time when it comes to maternity leave: 6 weeks post childbirth. In India, it’s 6 months. Perhaps the overarching attitude here is “chill, relax, do 9 to 5, and leave” – and in the same breath – “chill, relax, join after six weeks of childbirth.”

    But with global mobility more urgent than ever now, both cultures – I feel – might seek a middle path.

    Thanks for this detailed post, Mabel 🙂


    • Thank you so much for sharing your perspective and personal experience, Mahesh. It sounded like you were, and still are, every bit the hard working person at work. The organisation you used to work for in India sounded very driven and knew what they wanted to achieve, and for the chairperson to win the Nobel Peace prize, it is a big feat (I’m guessing it’s the joint-award one that had a lot of media coverage 😀 ). Certainly you had a part to play as you were at one point involved with the company. So, I congratulate you on a job well done, a job you did with passion and heart 🙂

      You bring up such an interesting point there – that in the West, people are less afraid of admitting they are laid off. Agreed. In the West, in a way the welfare system is there as a backup. In many Eastern countries, being out of work just means shame all round and something to look down upon. I remember for a few years I was without a steady job, and there were some around me (of similar background) did not like talking about the fact that I was looking for a job and refused to talk about what I was doing in my spare time (which was creative projects).

      Hopefully we can all seek that middle path juggling work and play. Hope all is well with you, Mahesh. Take care.

      Liked by 1 person

  45. Juggling between work and life seems to be a lifelong worry for the eastern people. You’ve rightly pointed out that for us, over-working is quite a habit and many of us often bring the official worries even to home! Such people fail to distinguish the distinct line between office and home. And, trust me, they are not less in number. I wonder why we are kind of workaholic; at the end of the day, it doesn’t make you happy in any way. While in the west, I’ve seen, they are supposed to do the work they’ve been assigned to and the working hours are constant. In no way, they bring back the work worries to home. Of course, there are exceptions in both fronts, but this is the general rule. It’s important to understand and maintain the adage, “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”.

    Wonderful photography as always, Mabel. I especially liked the one, let’s say, “Man and Music”. 🙂


    • ‘a lifelong worry for the eastern people’ This is quite true for many who live in the East, because many see it as a means to and end. Whether or not it makes one happy does depend on the individual. But like you, I do think that there is more to life than work, than just doing one thing. At the end of the day, I generally remember what I truly enjoyed doing and the connections I’ve made on the job when I go home or leave the place. Love that saying, and glad you reminded me of it: all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy…and Jill a dully girl 🙂

      Love your caption, Mani – Man and Music. You do have a great sense of creativity 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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