The phrase “work life balance” (or “work wife balance” as my brother in law says) makes no sense to me (hmm, actually work wife does seem potentially more useful… but I digress).
I have struggled with it for many years and am only now beginning to realise why it bugs me so much. Basically it fundamentally conflicts with my view of life and, indeed, of work. The phrase doesn’t work (sic), its incomplete, its trite and just silly. Its like saying “wall paper to house balance” or “ball to tennis balance”; its just nonsensical.
What is “life”?
Its this huge, incredibly all encompassing concept. Massive and complicated and short and inspiring and so much more. Why is work not part of that?
What is “work”?
Something that means completely different things to different people at different times and in different places. Why does it need balanced? Why is it separate from the rest of life?
So what’s a better approach?
A very good friend of mine used to force me into uncomfortable conversations about this and I am eternally grateful for that. She lead me into this approach and one day I might even be able to say that I have managed to live by it in some small way.
So I guess this is more a statement of what I would like to be able to balance, a resolution for 2013.
There are three things that, when balanced, make my life better:
This encompass everything to do with the body and health. Sport (adrenaline & endorphins are the best drugs in the world), exercise, diet, sex, physical heath and feeling good about my body.
The mental challenges and enjoyment from using my intellect (what little I have). Solving problems, learning and reading about new things, thinking and writing and so much more.
This is the one I find hard to articulate. I include religion and faith here; but both of those are a great challenge for me. So I currently think of a more general sense of well being, inner calm and having space (in a mental sense) to “just be” as my friend would say.
What about family?
My family are important to all three aspects; their physical, intellectual and spiritual balance feeds mine (and hopefully vice versa).
And that is the key point. Everything in this grand thing called “life” should be part of this balance, otherwise unhappiness ensues with the inevitability of a flood after rains (oops, sorry carried away at bit there..)
So what about work/life then?
Well, “work” can and, indeed, should encompass all three of the above. So rather than work being this beast that is forced upon me and that needs balanced, it is part of the fabric of life that will be balanced automatically if I can balance these three fundamentals.
Yeah, but you might say that work/life balance is about balancing the time spent “working” with family/social/me time. To which I say: no, that is too simplistic, everything in life is about that and more.
So I choose to take control and make work part of the wider life balance. And in order to do that I need to completely redefine what “work” is.