Work-life balance is nonsense, try this instead

Work-life balance

Work-life balance. The old, antiquated notion that we somehow need to compartmentalise our ‘day job’ from encroaching on the rest of our lives. Here is why that’s bull$hit.

It creates a false dichotomy

At what point did work become the oppressor to life? Work-life balance implies that there is work, then there is everything else that represents our lives. There are a few problems with this thinking:

  • It breeds angst towards our work as if work and our boss/company (if we have one) are some force seeking to dominate our lives.
  • It makes people who work long hours doing what they love feel guilty because the prevailing thinking implies their lives are out of balance and unhealthy.
  • It assumes your work is not your passion and that you have a job, rather than a career that enriches your life and inspires you.
  • It gives people a shield against a coworker that might be working a bit harder.

For entrepreneurs, business owners, and ANYONE who has passion for what they do, we’ve got to kill this work-life balance nonsense and liberate the populous from this stigma.

But first, beware the rise and grind culture

Before we squash work-life balance, we need to look at the other end of the spectrum. Equally unhelpful is the emergence of the ‘rise and grind’ trend. The inverse of work-life balance, this trend says that to be successful in your passion / career, every waking moment has to be spent grinding away at work.

This is equally problematic because it creates guilt for doing activities you enjoy that aren’t adding monetary value or growth. I’ve heard ‘grinders’ say ‘If you’re on social media instead of writing content, you’re lazy’. That’s simply untrue.

I wrote an article recently about working on your passion after a long day. This article referred to the need to allow time for your passion even when you’re tired. This is NOT to be confused with the need to spend time working mindlessly on things you don’t give a shit about. If your passion is sharing puppy photos on Instagram, then do it. The point is that you have a choice to build or develop the passion that ignites a spark in you.

A more useful way to look at your life balance

In coaching, I quite often use a theory called the four burners theory by James Clear (think of the four burners on a stovetop). The focus is on recognising that you have four burners in your life:

  • Health
  • Work
  • Family
  • Friends

Notice there isn’t some notion of work-life balance? Also, there isn’t a forced choice between leisure and work. Instead, work is simply one of the burners on your stove.

Now, you have to recognise that you possess limited fuel (time and energy) and you have to make some choices. You can crank one of the burners up to high and focus most of your resources on that.

An example could be training for a marathon and doing 2–4 hours a day of training, meaning you have less time for work, family and friends. Conversely, what many people do is try to allocate some energy to each and do everything averagely, accepting that they don’t do anything amazingly well. That’s okay; it’s your choice. Just make the choice that makes you happy.

Where are you expending your fuel, and are you happy with that?

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