The Work-Life Balance Myth

Go ahead and Google the phrase “work-life balance,” and see what sorts of results you get. Go ahead–I’ll wait. I wouldn’t expect you to sift through all 21 million plus results that Google suggests for the term, as that would take up far too much of your free time. Your “life,” the crucial “good” part of that work-life balance. Without sifting too far past the first page, almost every result offers quick tips on how to better your work-life balance, how to make it the most effective it can be and how to reclaim the control that you may have lost as your work spills into your life time, and your life spills into your work time. All of these results, I’m sure, are hot takes that you undoubtedly couldn’t find anywhere else among the aforementioned 21 million results.

Except maybe once this post goes live, because I’m here to dispel the idea of a work-life balance once and for all. Strap in, because things are going to get interesting.

First things first: you don’t need to balance your work and your life. Or at least, you shouldn’t. Perhaps if you’ve read my past posts on Business as a Game you know where I’m headed with this. The “business as a game” mentality permeates my work life (notice I used both in the same sentence in a positive connotation) to such a degree that almost every challenge I face, every scenario that gets thrown my way acts as another opponent in my game. I love games–and I love what I do. Coincidence? Probably not. It’s far more likely due to the fact that my mentality when approaching work is one that allows me to enjoy it.

When I get home from work in the evening, I don’t typically feel the need to “unwind.” I don’t feel stressed out, I feel amped up. When you enjoy what you do, your work doesn’t feel like work. “How,” you may be asking yourself, “does that sentence make any sense?” Let me break it down for you.

The word “work” carries with it a heavily negative connotation. Often the word is used as an addendum as one replies in the negative to an invitation to an event. “Sorry, I can’t go to the movies, I’ve got work,” or “no I won’t be able to make your birthday, I’m bogged down at work right now,” both clearly negative uses. It implies that work in and of itself is bad, something to be avoided if at all possible. If you look at “work” as strictly negative, you may find yourself in need of a “work-life balance,” but if you open your eyes to the fact that work does not have to be negative, you won’t feel that need.

Don’t get me wrong, there are jobs we don’t enjoy doing. Maybe that’s what you’re doing wrong if you feel an intrinsic, burning desire to leave right when the clock hits 5 o’clock to balance your work and your life. The fact of the matter remains that if you’re in the right job–a job in which you enjoy doing what you do–it won’t feel like work.

Don’t misconstrue this post as an inspirational “anyone can do anything” post–that’s not what I have intended. There is only one President of the United States at any given time, and there have only been 44 thus far in America’s ~240 year history.  No matter how hard I try, I’m fairly certain that I won’t be number 45 on that list, or 46, 47 or 48 for that matter. Not every single person can do every single thing they set their mind to. But what you can do is find something you enjoy doing, and do it.

Chances are, you don’t need a better work-life balance, you just need a better job, or a better mentality.

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