There is no such thing as “work-life balance”.


There’s no actual separation between work and life. There is simply your life.

Striving for “work-life balance” implies there’s a zero-sum scale that either tips one way or another, but never both.

When you say “I want more work-life balance”, you’re really saying something like:

"I want to work less."
"I want more Me time."
"I want to focus on non-work stuff."
"I want to spend less time at the office."
"I want to spend more time with my friends."

You want to do more things you’re not paid to do.

You want to spend more time with people you’re not paid to spend time with.

You want to care more about things you’re not paid to care about.

And if it were up to you, you would choose to live by different priorities than those you’re living by now.

Because parts of you feel neglected, and they are starting to get pissed.

That's not the same as trying to balance an imaginary "scale" as if the goal of life is to be at "zero" between stuff you don't want to do and stuff you do.

Notice that the main difference between “work” and “life” is whether you’re getting paid.

And for some reason when you’re getting paid, you think you have less choice. You think you owe something to your boss or company. You think you have to let the priority of those higher in the hierarchy come before your own.

But when you do that, you almost never get your needs met. Which makes you a malnourished and starving organism.

You become withdrawn at first. Silently suffering. Then begin quietly complaining and being negative. You become resentful and resistant. Your relationships become strained. Your productivity dwindles.

And you become a poor investment to those whom you’re claiming you’re giving up so much for.

There’s no such thing as work-life balance. There are simply choices you make for yourself and choices you let others make for you.

There are only priorities and choices.

Make choices that match your priorities and see how your life transforms and productivity soars.

You might choose to finish up an important task while everyone else goes to happy hour.

Your might choose to leave the office at 3pm to go to your kid’s soccer game.

Your might choose to spend the weekend preparing materials to facilitate an awesome work session on Monday.

Does one scenario look more work-life balancey than others? Sure. But only because of an artificial separation between work and life.

All of those might contribute to a wonderful life or a miserable one depending on a person’s priorities.

Don’t be ashamed of your choices. Own them.

When you complain or blame your boss, colleagues, project, client, etc, take that has a clue that you let someone else choose for you based on their priorities.

And know that whenever that is the case, you will very likely not get your needs met or your priorities fulfilled.

Instead of trying to balance an imaginary scale, get clear on your priorities, make your own choices, and take responsibility for those choices. No one can do that but you.

Eddie Shieh, PCC, MFA