“Work-life balance” is a commonly accepted phrase in everyday conversation:
“She’s not making as much money now but has a better work-life balance”
“I’ve had zero work-life balance the past few months”
Work and life are presented to us as a dichotomous relationship. We toil away at our jobs, creating stress and time debt (the work) to eventually be repaid by leisure, pursuit of passions, and time with loved ones (the life). These opposing forces are in a constant tug-of-war, requiring our meticulous care and attention to maintain equilibrium.
I’d like to raise an objection to this approach: Engaging in this endless face-off is a losing game. Work-life balance is a myth. Why are we striving to balance two sides of the same coin? Our lives are comprised of everything we do — including our work.
That two-hour conference call that won’t seem to end? Your life.
That end-of-year performance review you’ve been putting off? Also your life.
Of course we’d rather be on the beach than at our desk. Of course we’d rather be enjoying dinner with our family than editing spreadsheets.
But it’s dangerous to work with the outlook that the time is somehow a less important realm outside of our life. So instead of holding our breath waiting for the work to end — what if we treated and appreciated our working hours as an equally important part of our life?