What’s all the talk about work-life balance?
Picture the scales of justice, teetering back and forth as weight is added to each side. One side is labeled Work, the other, Life…..is balance even achievable?
As a working mom, I have had many discussions about the aspiration of work-life balance. It’s the buzzword that I use in every job interview and coaching session with young professionals.
In the corporate world, those words mean something. To an employer, those words mean, “there is something else which takes priority over this job”!
If that’s your truth and you place a higher value on your lifestyle/family over work, then that is an important message to communicate to an employer.
If, however your circumstances are such that you do not have the luxury to even entertain the idea of work-life balance, then you are not likely to have such a conversation with your employer. You and your family need that job so desperately that there is NOTHING else which takes priority over that job.
Alternatively, there are some of us who desperately want to climb the corporate ladder and either believes that being a slave to the job is a requirement to achieve that goal, or they have such passion and drive to succeed being available 24/7 is not a sacrifice or imposition. To those few, the “presumed balance” in the work-life balance concept is irrelevant.
In each scenario, there is a precursor to the idea of work-life balance…that precursor is Choice…or the absence of it.
Each person makes a choice, either consciously or unconsciously. We prioritize what’s important to us.
But in doing so, the reality is that there is no such thing as balance, in the work-life balance concept.
For the scales to be balanced there must be an equal distribution of weight to both sides.
Otherwise the scale is weighed down on one side more than the other, causing an imbalance.
IMBALANCE…that is the reality.
The biggest joke about this concept of Work-Life Balance, is that it assumes that we as humans (and mother’s specifically) are only comprised of two parts: Work and Life.
This concept, gives Work center stage… a spotlight, even, in the drama we call LIFE, when there’s so much more to Life.
Work is only a piece, and I’d argue a small piece in a much larger puzzle that comprises all of us.
Looking at the two (Work and Life) from that perspective, it is wildly crazy to think that Work would ever outweigh Life.
Meaning, in some instances, we have set aside our marriage/significant other, children, relatives, faith, friends, hobbies, in exchange for Work.
Alternatively, there are times when Work must be made a priority and it weighs down the scales!
The fact is that we prioritize what’s most important in that moment.
For example, my priority is my children, specifically their overall health, welfare, and my ability to spend time with them. However, if I have a project at work that must be completed by Friday, I will first ensure that my children are safe, well cared for, and otherwise occupied. Then, I will take time I had previously carved out as “family time” and use it to complete the work project.
In this example, there is no balance…my work took priority over my family time…at least until Friday.
If balance is what you seek, you must evaluate not a particular moment or event; your prioritization must be evaluated over time.
You would compare how you did one week (or a month) over another. Did you prioritize your Life (and all that makes up “Life”) over Work this week, and last week did you prioritized Work?
If you measure balance using that scale, then perhaps you may achieve some semblance of balance.
I believe that, overtime, those who have chosen to prioritize “Life”, will always have more weight on the Life side. Even if they occasionally have to sacrifice family time to perform work duties, this group will make the necessary adjustments and place their priority back on those aspects that comprise “Life”.
Those professionals who prioritize work over life (and family); they have made a choice and will always have more weight on the Work side of the scales.
Those who do not have the luxury to make a choice, they too will always be weighed down on the Work side. These people that prioritize work will often allow work to creep into their family time and they don’t typically reset the scale.
So you see…even if you take a comparative look over time….there is no balance!
Something always falls short. Or is outweighed by the other, if we keep the scale analogy going!
So my conclusion is that Work-Life Balance is all BS!!! There is no such thing and we should consider getting rid of the term!
For the time being, you should get in the habit of asking yourself, what is your priority….and focus on that!
I’d love to hear your take on work-life balance….