If you are a corporate animal, you’ve probably read a zillion articles on work-life balance. I am not about to wax eloquent on the subject; the thing has already been written to death. My perception is a little different.
I do suggest, however, that you google the term. The harvest will be as richly illuminating as it will be bizarre.
The phrase work-life balance befuddles my scant grey men. They run hither and thither wondering whether to apply for a visa to the moon or remain earthbound. While they rush about, of course, it is downtime with me. Not that you’d notice, for downtime and uptime are largely indistinguishable in my world. When have degrees of meltdown mattered?
Let me be honest. I don’t think people like me are capable of creating a balance in their lives. There is certainly none in the short-term. However, if the evaluation scope is two years—or five—every aspect of my life is exquisitely balanced.
I am the sort that goes all out after something, ignoring everything else. Once that project is over, I go all out and immerse myself in the things I ignored while the project was going on. It more like a see-saw with me—where I am playing alone. Imagine me sprinting from one end of the see-saw to another huffing and puffing and you’ll know what I am saying. Strenuous? Oh, terribly. But so much fun. Never a dull moment! And more than a little fathead, truth be told, alas!
There is no such thing as work-life balance. Everything worth fighting for unbalances your life. ~ Alain de Botton Click To Tweet
Even if I weren’t the perpetually imbalanced kind, there’s the other thing—which bears scrutiny better.
You may call me simplistic, but to me, the phrase work-life balance means that there are two distinct entities—work and life. Apparently, humans are always trying to find a balance between the two, which is nice and cozy. My question is this: Is work not a part of life? When did work become distinct and separate from life? When did the two pick up cudgels against each other and turn adversaries?
The purpose of work is to sustain life. The privilege of life is to be enriched by work. The purpose of both is to help the soul fulfil its agenda in the current incarnation. There is certainly no mention of the two being foes! When did that happen?
Working hard for something we don't care about is called stress: Working hard for something we love is called passion. ~ Simon Sinek Click To Tweet
Some erudite ladies and gentlemen replace the word life by the phrase personal life, fondly imagining that the addition of an adjective would simplify matters. Now, you are supposed to find a balance between work and personal life. This implies that work is not personal to us. The richly bizarre harvest I reaped when I googled that phrase was even fruitier than the last.
The tone of almost all articles was belligerent. It was as if work were this rabid dog that has sneaked into a rollicking, upper echelon party. It stands in the middle of the room salivating, as it stares about it with malevolent distaste. Like, really?!
There is no work-life balance. We have one life. What's most important is that you be awake for it. ~ Janice Marturano Click To Tweet
I didn’t sign up for that definition; stop shoving it down my throat, you silly nitwit!
I know why you subscribe to that definition in the pained manner of someone who is being taken advantage of. Work and Life are adversaries to you for a reason. You feel your life needs protection against work—the rabid dog—for a reason.
The reason is this: Your work is not your calling. The call to it doesn’t come from your soul. It is a profession (a money-making activity) that has blown its fuse on the internal wire that should have connected you to the core of your being.
It is you reading your fat lawyers’ briefs while the music in your soul dies unheard. It is you busy learning the tricks of becoming a corporate predator with a corner office, while the teacher in you suffocates for breath. It is you pouring your soul into soulless machines while the dancer in you languishes on atrophied limbs. That is why your work is an adversary to your life—as it naturally should be.
[Clayton] Christensen had seen dozens of companies falter by going for immediate payoffs rather than long-term growth, and he saw people do the same thing. In three hours at work, you could get something substantial accomplished, and if you failed to accomplish it you felt the pain right away. If you spent three hours at home with your family, it felt like you hadn’t done a thing, and if you skipped it nothing happened. So you spent more and more time at the office, on high-margin, quick-yield tasks, and you even believed that you were staying away from home for the sake of your family. He had seen many people tell themselves that they could divide their lives into stages, spending the first part pushing forward their careers, and imagining that at some future point they would spend time with their families–only to find that by then their families were gone.
~ Larissa MacFarquhar
But it never had to be that way. You chose to fragment your soul. You chose to bring the war inside, into your consciousness, when you decided to disregard the voice of your soul. Your outer, social self is engaged in mortal combat with your inner being. If your inner and outer being were in congruence with each other and the universe, you wouldn’t be struggling so hard to create a balance. You would have been a perfectly balanced being without ever having to try.
A true balance between work and life comes with knowing that your life activities are integrated, not separated. ~ Michael Thomas Sunnarborg. Click To Tweet
Speak not, therefore, of work-life balance. The issue is not of finding—or externally creating— balance. Balance and poise are the soul’s natural state when it moves unhampered in its chosen direction. Once you find your own direction, balance will happen automatically. Work and life will complement each other. The war within will end. You will move faster because you will be moving in the direction you were designed to move.
Dig out your inner compass and let it show you that direction. Let your soul take the reins. When you find your unique direction, don’t just stand looking at it- WALK!
Because paths are made by walking, not looking.