I think the concept of ‘work-life balance’ is deeply flawed.
The phrase suggests that:
- Work and life are somehow different. Now, that is patently stupid. If you aren’t feeling alive when you are working, then your problem isn’t lack of work-life balance. You probably need a good career coach – I hear that this fellow is quite good.
- There is a state where everything is in balance and there are people who have achieved that state. I have honestly never been in that state. have you? Do you know anyone who has been in that state?
I think a much better strategy involves a fundamentally different approach.
1. Instead of just balancing work and life I think the task is much more complex. We need to work on balancing different life domains (or what Kelly Wilson would call ‘Domains of valued living’). Most of us have a few of these. Mine are: family, work/achievement, learning, friends, relationship, health and wellbeing, contribution/community.
2. It would also help to view ‘balance’ as a verb – ‘balancing’. An ongoing process that involves:
- Deciding on the areas of life that matter to you and what values and actions you want to take in each area.
- Noticing how you are doing over time. Getting better and better at noticing when you are focussed too much on one area of life and neglecting other important areas…and then making a correction.
You can take the Valued Living Questionnaire here to see how you are going in balancing your life.