noun. the combination of simultaneously sounded musical notes to produce a pleasing effect; the quality of forming a pleasing and consistent whole; the state of being in agreement or concord; an arrangement of the four Gospels, or of any parallel narratives, which presents a single continuous narrative text.
I read an article a while back about why we should seek ‘work life harmony’ instead of ‘work life balance’ and it really resonated with me. Over the last 12 months, since transitioning out of school leadership and leaving Headship, I have consciously reframed my life.
Time out travelling allowed the time and the space to decompress. Starting a role in a university, enabled be to recalibrate my relationship with work and establish clearer boundaries on my time and my energy. After trying to juggle work and life, and doing it badly, for a few years, my life became less compartmentalised and my work became less all-consuming, enabling a more seamless flow between the different parts of my existence.
“Out of clutter find simplicity.
From discord find harmony.
In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity”.
This journey of transformation started with a change in perspective and a conscious mindset. Stopping, pausing and embracing the stillness and the space created a new lens through which to view things. I explored the tensions, paid attention to the discord.
My life was full of meaning, but had I been fulfilling my purpose? I am a passionate person but had I been investing my time and my energy in the right things to move in the intended direction of travel? This makes me reflect on my earlier post about Ikigai and the search for congruence between my passion, my mission, my profession and my vocation. The happy sweet spot is where they are in harmony.
I have also read a lot about time and energy management. I am a ninja when it comes to managing and maximising my time. I am a highly productive person and have capacity to juggle lots and multi-task a range of projects and activities, but being busy all the time meant I was being swept along, not everything I was doing was conscious and deliberate. It also meant that my energy levels would often be depleted.
I began to ask myself questions about what I was saying yes to, why I was investing time and energy in certain things, how it was going to enhance my life, what I would gain from my involvement. That might sound self-centred or selfish, but as someone who constantly serves others, I needed to review what was serving me. I needed to invert the lens and put the awareness spotlight on me and ask myself some of the questions that I regularly ask others, that make you think deeply about your choices.
“He who lives in harmony with himself, lives in harmony with the universe”.
As a Headteacher I had a holistic vision for our school, we had a holistic provision where we were focused on ‘nurturing the hearts and the minds’ of the whole child. Our provision integrated the core curriculum with our inner curriculum. We were committed to enabling our children to thrive and flourish, as whole individuals, to have a toolkit of life skills to make them resilient human beings.
I began to apply this holistic principle to my own life, work being the core content, the professional growth, and my passion projects being the inner content, the personal growth. One thing I had done a few years prior to that was to have one calendar so I could see the balance of my week and create harmony between my commitments. I have shared my colour coding technique with a lot of my contacts over the years, as it is a visual way to represent your different activities and enable you to scrutinise the flow.
I have always used yellow as my wellbeing colour, my sunshine, the things that bring me joy, keep me well and are part of my self-care. I want each week to be a rainbow of variety and diversity.
Moreover, I use purple for my ‘passion projects’ – the things that are not work but that energise me, the things that bridge my professional and personal spheres. When we started #WomenEd my weekends began to fill up, I spent a lot of Saturdays at events, I started blogging in my evenings and weekends too. Sometimes friends and family would give me push back on ‘working’ at the weekends and out of hours, but I explained to them that I chose to invest time and energy in these activities. I didn’t at the time realise that therein was an example of work life harmony.
“There is a social need within our lives as human beings to have harmony”.
For me, a rainbow is a symbol of harmony. Each colour has its own worth, but together each colour compliments one another to create a whole. Nothing jars. Rainbows bring joy, hope and optimism as they make you stop in your tracks and take in their beauty.
Harmony is about integration, about layering different components, creating concord. It is about planting seeds and seeing plants blossom alongside one another. It is about scoring music notes and hearing the voices and instruments create beauty together. It is about different people and diverse thinking co-existing. Harmony is the intentional act of embracing wholeness.
“Life blossoms when it is in a state harmony and balance”.
Angie Karan Krezos
Reflection and self-awareness are two of the vital ingredients to enable harmony to grow. Along with the resilience to be deliberate, to learn and to grow. Embracing a different way of being, enhancing what serves my purpose and amplifying what brings me joy has been a process, which is constantly evolving.
A coach a while back encouraged me to apply my project management skills from work on my personal life and I have consciously done this: I have removed things that jar me from my life, I have streamlined the things that clash with my values and I have aligned different components that were working against each other.
My life is not perfect, but if it is the sum of all of its parts, it is happy and harmonious:
“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony”.
So I encourage you to reflect on whether you are seeking balance or whether you are seeking harmony and to consider how you can integrate the different parts of your life to enable you to be truly present.