The Fallacy of Work-Life Balance
by Andrew Cooke, Growth & Profit Solutions
Considerable effort has been devoted to discussing and developing “work-life balance” – the ability to achieve all that you want in both your personal and professional lives.
The problem with this is that “work-life balance” doesn’t exist!
Let me explain. Work-life balance is an artificial construct developed by people, it is not “real” and you find it nowhere in the natural world. When I started work some 30 years ago the concept of “work-life balance” did not exist, nor was it in the common parlance. Nor had it been for hundreds of years previously. The fact of the matter was that you lived and worked as did everyone else. So what has happened to result in the rise of the “work-life balance” construct.
Personally, I attribute it to two factors:
1. People’s expectations and
2. People’s mindsets
People’s expectations have changed over time. People want and expect as a basic human right the ability to have a work life which will not impinge on their personal life but which, at the same time, will also support their desired lifestyle.
Secondly, people’s mindsets have changed towards that of a fixed mentality in which the size of the pie is fixed, so the only way you can increase your piece of the pie is by taking more. As regards work-life balance this means that to improve your personal life you can only do so by reducing your efforts in your working life. This is reflected in people’s expectations.
The Flawed Assumptions
Why the work-life balance is a fallacy is because it is based on two key assumptions which are essentially flawed.
Firstly, the fixed mindset not only limits your choices, but it diminishes the individual as it reduces opportunities. Rather, there should be a growth or abundance mindset – not “either/or” in work/life but “and”, work and life. This provides you with a wealth of opportunities which you can create and select from, allowing you alternatives that you are otherwise excluded from. Here the size of the pie can be increased, allowing you to obtain more without having to diminish the remaining part of the pie.
Secondly, you only have one life not two. Tell me, do you never think or do things related to your work life when you are in your personal life, or that you never think or do things related to your personal life when you are in your work life? Exactly. So why create arbitrary lines of delineation when they actually don’t exist, and all they do is cause you stress because you never get “work-life balance”.
Life is for living, live it – don’t spend all your time wishing “I will be happy when…”. It is like trying to reach the horizon – no matter what you do you never reach or achieve it.
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