Work-life balance. We all know what it is and we’re all striving to reach it. It’s like a mythical nirvana, where we have plenty of enjoyable work, but we also have plenty of time for outside pursuits like family, hobbies, church, and yard work. When we reach this nirvana, we’ll be at peace with the universe. We’ll walk around in a bubble of indescribable joy. Our spouses will love us and our children will adore us.
So, how’s that going for you? Are you there yet? I’m not. I think we’ve been had. I think work-life balance is an impossible goal to reach, like a 300 bowling game or a size zero dress. I think work-life is a false dichotomy, setting us up to expect more out of life than is reasonable, or even possible. Here’s the thing, either you will be so into your work that the other aspects of your life will decrease in importance, or you will be so into the other aspects of your life that work will be a drudgery, something to be endured.
I think what people are really looking for when they talk about work-life balance is happiness and fulfillment in all they do, in their work and otherwise. They want to have fulfilling work, but not be so bogged down by it that they don’t have energy for anything else.
It may sound strange to say it, but I think the only way to have this kind of balance is to make your work your life. I’m not talking about the 80-hour-a-week workaholic here – they obviously don’t have balance – but I’m talking about the people whose life IS their work. I’ve met some people whose work and life are indistinguishable. They don’t have work hours and off hours. They’re at work all the time, but they’re living their lives all the time, too.
What kinds of jobs fit this description? I met a author once, who traveled around with his family, writing and speaking at conferences. Although he was never off duty, his family was a part of his work. In fact, he didn’t even see it as “his work.” This was what his FAMILY did, not what he did. Other careers where this type of balance might be attainable include pastor, farmer, and small retail owner. Careers where this type of balance is a little more improbable include policeman, teacher, and salesman.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Have you found work-life balance? How did you do it? Send your responses to the paper.