Okay, I’m going to say it. Work-life balance is dead…or at least it should be.
Work-life balance came into vogue in the 70’s and 80’s as overworked baby boomers strove to find a better balance between career, family and other aspects of their lives. I’m not a fan of the saying because it implies that each is mutually exclusive—you must trade one for the other to find an equilibrium.
And, by the way, who has ever attained this balance? No one.
Plus, with the last 18 months, remote working, always-on pressure and a lack of boundaries, balance feels impossible. So, then, you end up feeling like a failure on both sides of the scale. No thanks. (And the second reason I’m not a fan.)
Okay, so how do you think about it instead?
First, balance is the wrong goal. The underlying desire, I believe, is to have more time for people, activities and interests that aren’t work, rather than finding evenness between work and life. I prefer to think of it as a blend. Or others call it harmony or integration.
You have one life. Work, relationships, interests, physical and mental care, hobbies, personal admin, and sleep are important components of that life. I encourage you to focus on how you can structure your days, weeks and years to ensure that you are experiencing each at the levels you desire—a la Steven Covey’s quote.
Second, respect your commitments and boundaries for each. Avoid sacrificing personal time for work. Schedule, literally, relationships, interests, hobbies, etc. into your calendar and respect those times. Don’t give them up. Live your life instead of letting it live you.