Is Work-Life Balance A Myth?

Work Life BalanceDo you believe that work-life balance is a myth or at the very least, elusive? A simple definition has been difficult to develop. For your consideration, here is a three part definition of what work-life balance is not:

Work-Life Balance does not mean an equal balance. Trying to schedule an equal number of hours for each of your various work and personal activities is usually unrewarding and unrealistic. Life is and should be more fluid than that.

Your best individual work-life balance will vary over time, often on a daily basis. The right balance for you today will probably be different for you tomorrow. The right balance for you when you are single will be different when you marry, or if you have children; when you start a new career versus when you are nearing retirement.

There is no perfect, one-size fits all, balance for which you should be striving. The best work-life balance is different for each of us because we all have different priorities and different lives.

You may agree or may not agree with the above reasons as to what is not work-balance. However, as a practical matter, it is not an either/or proposition. As a matter of fact, this work-life duality may be a fallacy, or at the very least a fantasy. There may be many reasons why one would take issue with the foregoing, but an individual’s definition of work-life balance should include these three (3) considerations:

  1. PassionFor some, they are engaged in their work because they have a passion for it and that passion may well be the reason for their success. They may be so driven that disconnecting from their work could be difficult. As a matter of fact, there may be periods when a person is “on a roll” and is unable disconnect due to fear of stifling their creativity and block new ideas.
  2. Business culture – The U.S. industrial base has changed and our work habits have been adjusted as well. In a production line economy, work life is quite simple: you work your shift and if overtime is available, you take it. The further we move away from a production line economy, the more we move toward a creative environment. Therefore, when we are developing solution to customer issues, our work hours may not be as structured. But this does not mean that we have abandoned our family and other responsibilities or need for “down-time.”
  3. Purpose – A significant portion of our work is purpose driven. In other words, we know who we are as individuals and have “bought in” to the organizational purpose and have consciously linked our purpose to that of the organization. A number of studies have shown that “purpose-driven” individuals often outperform others in terms of money, advancement, satisfaction and competition.

It seems to me that in many cases, work and life could be seamless. Therefore, it is the quality of how and when the two intersect that determines if one’s work and life are in balance.

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James E. McClain is the author of Successful Career Development: A Game Plan, the book upon which some of our training programs are based. He has over 30 years' experience as a corporate HR executive, small business owner with ongoing experience in career development and as a college instructor. His educational background includes a B.S. and Masters degrees Education and Certification in Financial Planning. Our promise is that "you can pay more for training but you can not buy better training." The mission is to deliver the most effective and cost effective training and development programs.

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Posted in Professional Skills, Work-Life Balance

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