September 12, 2021: The Myth of Work-Life Balance
Updated: Sep 19
Work-Life Balance. A new buzzword. There is so much written about it. Web sites, books, articles, blogs, and podcasts all devoted to the elusive work-life balance. How to achieve this magical state. Why it is important to do so. And tips and advice for achieving it. It is all out there.
But rather than thinking of it in terms of a balance to be achieved where both side are even, I think of it more as a see-saw, where at some points in time, the work side needs to be dominant, while other times, the personal-life side is more important and stronger.
I think that striving for a balance, where each consumes 50% of our energy and focus and time, is unrealistic and shortchanges both. When is this balance supposed to be calculated? Daily? Weekly? Over a lifetime? And how do we achieve this all-important evenness?
I am a prolific planner and compulsive list-maker. When I plan out my week and my daily tasks, I absolutely try to make sure that I am addressing all of the areas of my life. Blocked out on my calendar is my teaching time and my writing time. I make sure that my yoga and fitness sessions are scheduled in, any social events or time with friends or family, any appointments, and even chores and tasks that are needed to make life run smoothly. My calendar is a work of art. Everything is there and all are given the appropriate attention.
Then life happens.
That doesn’t mean I should give up my effort of trying to plan out my weeks so that I am living a life of balance and all areas of importance are addressed. It simply means that I have to approach my days knowing that the balance I achieve on paper will almost never translate to real-life.
Inevitably, there will be an unexpected request from your agent that must be dealt with. Or the child who gets sick and needs you to take care of them. And suddenly, the balance in your daily plan is now a thing of the past. But that is ok.
Then there is the myth that our life is divided into these two big categories- work and then everything else. I am not sure I buy into this as well. If I put everything that is not work-related together, ( family, friends, personal/self) it far outweighs the work side. So what type of balance am I really seeking here?
I found one life-style website that talked about the definition of work-life balance being “ Meaningful daily achievement and enjoyment in each of the four life quadrants.” Those quadrant are listed as work, family, friends, & self. I like this better that the two category balance-scale.