The Work/Life Balance Fallacy

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When we were children, time didn’t occur to us. All our activities fit perfectly into the day. Unless the sun was going to bed, our time seemed endless, wistfully passing by. Our parents dealt with our schedules, moving and shifting around hockey practices with dentist appointments. Our lives were handled in their responsible care and we were blissful.

Soon after, we matured into self-sustaining adults with our own work schedules and responsibilities. We began to focus on time; trying to fit all the minutiae tightly in.

Then, we became obsessed with time. We became obsessed with balance. It seems that most of us endlessly sought a balanced life.

However, the ‘balanced life’ does not exist.

One of life’s biggest lies is the notion of a balanced life. Nothing ever achieves absolute balance. Nothing.

Between professional and personal life, striving for that perfect balance is most peoples’ mislead goal that they find attainable without ever stopping to truly consider it.

This is tough to believe mainly because one of the most frequent mantras for what is missing in most lives is, ‘I need more balance.’ We hear about balance so much that we automatically assume it’s exactly what we should seek.

It’s not.

We should be seeking purpose, significance, and happiness, the qualities that persist in a successful life.

Seek those important qualities and you will more than likely live a life out of balance, crisscrossing an invisible middle line as you pursue those qualities.

Think of balance as the middle line, and out of balance when we’re away from it. Get too far and we’re now living in the extremes.

The persistent problem with the middle is that it prevents us from making extraordinary time commitments to anything. Stay here too long and our lives will grow stale and ordinary.

Stray away from the middle and we could get reckless, marginally living a terribly hard life, devoid of relationships, fond memories and love.

Knowing when to pursue the middle and the extremes is true knowledge. Results are achieved with perfect negotiation with your time.

The reason we should never pursue absolute balance is because the magic never happens in the middle.

Magic happens at the extremes.

The extremes are where we are truly tested in will and guts. Our strengths are galvanized towards a lifelong dream. We naturally understand that success lies at the outer edges, but we don’t know how to manage our lives when we’re out venturing.

When we work too long, our personal life suffers. We unfairly blame work when we say, ‘I have no life.’ Even when work doesn’t pose a threat, our personal lives can be filled with endless ‘have-tos’ that we, once again, reach the same conclusion, ‘I have no life.’

When we get bombarded by both sides - professional and personal - we face an imminent breakdown and once again proclaim, ‘I have no life.’

Time waits for no one.

If we stray too far to the extremes, chasing our professional lives, we forget to cherish the middle, the simple.

Sometimes our work schedules become overwhelming, but our belief is that if we work hard now, we can enjoy the fruits of labor later.

Push something to an extreme and postponement can become permanent.

We seem to believe that we can make up for lost time.

But do we really think that we can get back a child’s birthday or bedtime story? Is a party for a five-year old with imaginary friends the same as a dinner with a teenager with high-school friends?

In Click, Adam Sandler has an epiphany before death where he says, ‘family first.’ Realizing all the time he spent at work instead of with his family, gave him his biggest regret.

He couldn’t make up for lost time. He couldn’t find balance.

Time on one thing means time away from another. This makes balance impossible.

Finding the right amount is essential to our personal and professional lives. Through careful deliberation of our activities, we can slowly understand where our time is best spent.

We have to spend our time on what matters most to us, instead of scrambling with minutiae. We have to accept the fact that not everything can get done in our days, weeks, months, years, and lives.

We need to realize where our true passions and priorities lie in life. We need to separate all the important activities from the things we think are important.

Professional and personal success are measured equally. If we do not treat bodies with respect, our families and friends with respect, we suffer immeasurable in the latter.

If we do not achieve professional success, we feel defeated and depressed, bringing those feelings into our personal lives.

We must crisscross the invisible line, while simultaneously chasing purpose, significance, and happiness.

We must spend a little extra time sharing memories with our families and friends and being mindful of ourselves – our bodies and minds.

We must also focus on our professional goals by working our hardest - but not longest - and giving our entire being in that singular moment.

Balance cannot be achieved.

The art of counter-balancing is a more realistic goal. With everything that we do in our professional life, equal time must be spent in our personal lives, and vice versa.

When I die, I want to have the shortest list of regrets possible. With that in mind, making sure to be mindful of my body, treasuring my relationships and chasing professional success are goals, which are strived for equally.

Until next time, my beautiful readers,

Be bold, be free, and love on.

Symbol of scales is made of stones on the cliff