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The Myth of Work-Life Balance (#44)

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People often talk about wanting work-life balance, but I don’t believe it is what they are really seeking; the concept itself is fundamentally unachievable. The notion of work life-balance implies that we have this perfect scale always in sync between our personal and professional responsibilities at any given time. It conjures up an image of someone working from home on their laptop with a child on their lap. That’s not what anyone really wants, that’s compromise.

Many peoples’ concept of what a perfectly balanced professional and personal life looks like often leads to sub-par outcomes, disappointment and frustrations because its based on time allocation and trying to do too many things at once. In trying too hard to “balance” their schedule, they are checking off the boxes, but not getting the best outcomes due to an approach that is quantitative versus qualitative.

Rather than balance, what I believe we really want is the ability to be truly present in our work and in our lives outside work. We are seeking meaningful, uninterrupted, “all in” experiences at each end of the work/life spectrum, which will naturally cycle at different times. There often won’t be balance within a week or a day and hours aren’t the determinant of quality.

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