The Work Life Balance Deception

In Life Lessons by Tommy Thompson2 Comments

Littering the internet are articles on mastering work-life balance.  I’ve thought long and hard about this concept. Balancing the demands of a career and all the other demands that flood our way is complicated. But I believe it is made more difficult by buying into the deception implied by the whole concept of work-life balance.

The very positing of the dilemma implies pitting work against life. Isn’t work a part of life? Shouldn’t work be life-giving, not the negative side of the seesaw of life? The problem shows itself in two different forms. First, work has too large a place in many of our lives, either because we love our work and spend too much time in it, or its demands are so substantial that we cannot wrangle it. Second, even if our time commitment to work is not out of balance, our energy commitment is. We come home exhausted with work demanding the best of our energy. I have never heard the debate center around the rest of life edging out our need to work. Work is always the problem! Work is always what needs balancing!

We need extraordinarily honest soul-searching in this regard. Ask yourself these questions:

• Why do I have such a hard time getting control of the demands of my work? Is it my boss? Is it how work feeds my ego and my need for stimulation? Is my identity too wrapped up in what I do? Am I avoiding other more difficult issues outside of work?

• What is my priority? Am I neglecting my family to provide for my family? Have I elevated money and status to an inappropriate place in my life?

• Are there creative ways to be more efficient without sacrificing effectiveness at our jobs?Can we negotiate, either with ourselves or with our boss, to make more room for that which we would clearly say is more important in our life?

I know that these are really, really hard issues. But just because the struggle is real doesn’t mean we should give in and admit defeat. Even a small change can have a huge impact. A little progress, which can come from a slight shift in perspective, may be a tipping point to a better flow between work and the rest of life.

Finally, I encourage you to adopt the following resolutions:

• Resolved: I will not allow my life to continue to be dictated by the urgent, crowding out the important.

• Resolved: I will clarify the priorities of my life and live accordingly.

• Resolved: I will not give my friends and my family the leftovers of my energy and attention.

• Resolved: I will accept that the tension between work and the rest of life is an imperfect dance, not a predictable formula. 

• Resolved: I will reframe work as a vital part of life, not a necessary evil.

• Resolved: I will no longer put off creating the life I want to live because it is too difficult.

Our lives are meant to be a beautiful tapestry, with work, family, mission, health, growth creating one whole magnificent masterpiece. 

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