The Trouble With “Work-Life Balance”

At a recent forum I attended, the convener indicated that one of the most popular subjects discussed was work-life balance.  This crystalised some thoughts for me and I’ve started this blog to share some of them, along with many others that I’ve gathered throughout my career.

There are numerous and demanding pressures facing all of us in our daily lives, including the increasing pressures that the work environment brings.  However, I believe the phrase work-life balance is a misnomer – that leads people into making sub-optional choices in their lives.  This phrase suggests that there is a stark delineation between the two and that “either-or” choices need to be made and “work is bad” and “life is better”. CNN also posted a story long these lines recently, which also sought to debunk the concept.

I think a more appropriate way to describe this situation is that work is an essential part of life.  Work has the opportunity to bring great personal satisfaction, self-esteem and the potential to let us grow as human beings, in addition, of course, to putting bread on the table. The average person spends c.30% of their lifetime waking hours at work – no trivial commitment.

In order to maximise the enjoyment of life, it is necessary to maximise the enjoyment of work – it is not a choice between the two, it is “life and work”.


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