I used to believe the attainment of work/life balance was a nice concept but completely unrealistic. It sounded idealistic and I thought that its pursuit would only lead to disappointment. I was disillusioned by countless laptop entrepreneurs who would brag about their work/life balance as they posted from their yachts or infinity pools. They would often declare that their program was the only means of acquiring this ‘balance’. Make 7 figures working anywhere in the world whilst working whenever you want. All the time in the world for holidays, hobbies and socialising. It made my 60 hour working weeks look completely imbalanced.
There are a few major issues when we define ‘balance’ in this manner. This picture is completely unachievable for the majority of the population. They may have succeeded in acquiring their dream work/life balance (even then it is likely it is fabricated to sell their programs) but this doesn’t need to be our definition of balance. Secondly, why do we equate an even distribution of hours as balance? When we apply this concept, we have a quantity expectation and not a quality expectation.
I remember listening to Gary Vaynerchuk speak about his balance. People used to comment on how he must not have time for his family because he is constantly working. He said that he may not have an abundance of hours each evening but he has quality time where he is completely present with his family. He has found balance because of the quality in his experiences.
I also believe the general concept of work/life balance paints work as tiresome, arduous and not all that enjoyable. However, if you find great enjoyment, meaning and engagement in your work then I believe it is much easier to acquire balance. There is however a danger with this as well. It is easy to spend long days in the office because of the fulfilment you derive from work. This can come at the expense of other areas. This has certainly been my battle over the years.
To prevent this from occurring I have established standards that I want to meet in all areas of life; health, family, social, work, finances, travel, spirituality, emotional and hobbies. I review all these areas on a regular basis. These standards are not necessarily based on time. If I tried to divide my time equally across all categories then I believe it would be detracting. It wouldn’t enable me to immerse myself in areas where I experience flow.
Are you measuring life balance in terms of time or the quality of the experience?
Have you established standards in all areas of life and do you undertake a regular review against these standards?
Are you finding fulfilment and meaning in your work?
Life balance is dynamic and always changing. It is not a fixed number of hours that you must adhere to. Rather, it requires constant self-awareness and review. It is individualised and specific to your values, preferences and goals.