The Myth of Work-Life Balance
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Ohh yes! come to me, work-life balance. The mantra we hear over and over again. Everybody that has corporate, industrious kind of job, knows that this is some sort of aspiring living style… a promised land of balance, prosperity and well-being.
Where does this idea came from? Although it appears to be New Age, the reality is that it is a concept that already was used as back as in the late 1800s. At the time, this movement was mainly targeted for women as a way to integrate them into the labor force. Women’s role as primary caretakers of children and home was still the norm, and so in order for them to join the workforce more flexible schedules and maternity leave schemes were needed (ncbi.gov).
Nowadays, the work-life balance concept is applied by professional men and women in general, with exception of some “critical” professions like doctors, nurses and other jobs which need constant permanence due to it’s life critical nature. The idea to have a work-life balance holds the key belief that working only a limited permissible amount of hours and not more, will allow you to have more time for family and leisure; at the same time, it will increase productivity, job satisfaction, and an overall reach of higher levels of well-being.
In the late 20th century, the so-called work-life balance transformed itself from a nice intended concept to gain more “flexible” work hours, to a multi-million dollar industry. Now you can have all kinds of services that help you reach this goal: consulting companies, coaches, online programs, health courses, and all other sorts of products.
But what is really behind the idea of having a balanced work-life? Why to separate the “work” and the “life” as if they were different entities? If you are working, then you are not living?
Something behind this idea is a bit bogus.
I believe that when you have a job that you enjoy, that you love, you are living it. Our life is a continuous stream of decisions, and one can decide at every moment what to do and how to spend your valuable -and limited- time on this earth.
If you have a soul-destroying job that gives you zero satisfaction, or the only reward you get is a paycheck, then I can imagine you need a “scape” from this dreadful job. You need a check -in, check out card and when the time comes to check-out you basically numb yourself out of it. You go home, have dinner, play with your kids, watch TV, read the news, go for a drink…. you do all the things people do when you have some “free time”. No wonder why Sundays are so scary to most people. You come from the wonderful free weekend time, spent on hobbies, family and leisure… back to the draining week routine of the 9 to 5.
But let´s imagine for a moment, that work-life balance would not exist. Let’s assume you enjoy and have passion for what you do. How would your life look like? Would you still want to work on your life project only limited hours? Would you still fear the Sunday evenings?
I imagine a world without work-life balance like this: You wake up every morning cheerfully and full of energy, because you know it is another day you will work on what you consider your life-duty. You don’t need specific hours to start or to end. You merge your family time, your leisure time, sport time and work time into one harmonic life-event. There are no week- days and week-ends, just days. And when it comes to perform your job, you enjoy it so much that you could even think this is really your hobby time. There is no work-life balance needed, there is just life.
Now let´s imagine you have no such thing as work-life balance, and you don´t really love what you do, but you do it for a paycheck. You are obliged to work endless hours in exchange of some coins. Isn´t that a form of slavery anyway? No wonder industries had to come up with something smart as work-life balance to give some incentives for people to take such jobs.
If you are a parent, you might agree with me, that our parent job is a 24-hour duty. As a parent, there is no fixed schedule to follow. Raising kids is a life-long shift, 24 hours a day, every single day. There are no holidays, no paychecks, no rewards, and no visible material benefit. So why on earth do you decide to become a parent?
We do it because of Love. Love is our metaphysical metric. Love is something you cannot quantify as a material value (at least, not yet) and try to obtain a benefit from. It is a life- giving energy. We are parents because we commit and decide to bring offspring to the world to love them and take care of them; because is also a way to leave a mark in the world. Every person wants to leave a legacy whether with his work or his descendance… or both!
I want to live in a world where work (i.e the action of doing, creating…) becomes my primary reason of living. Why do I want to live for, if it is not to pursue some meaningful and creative work that fulfills my soul? Whether I decide to become a successful business woman, a mom and home administrator, a writer, a painter, a cooker, a plumber, or a teacher. I don’t want to be afraid to be labelled as “workaholic” or “not caring about my family” because I spend more than the “standard” 8 hours a day in my work.
When I stayed home to take care of my kids and was looking after them day and night, nobody called me a “momaholic”, but if I decided to stay a few hours more working on a personal or business project, I was suddenly a workaholic. Like if being a mom is not really a job and everything else that produces something is.What a joke!
Everybody that has a dream, and has enough work-ethic to follow it, will find the way to pursue his or her life integrating everything that is important for them.
I consider my life as a daily 24- hour mission. In this mission, I schedule work, family, exercise and everything that makes my life complete. I don’t believe in separating work and life. I believe in a complete, integrated, fulfilling life where you do meaningful activities that are in line with your center, with your heart. Life doesn’t need to be easy, but definitely needs to be worth living.
It is a God given right. Work-life balance is in my opinion, a deception invented by big industries as a way to keep people productive and a little bit happier in what we know is normally a soulless dreadful factory, a boring office job.
Don’t aspire just to have a work-life mediocre balance. Aspire for more! Aspire to take back your whole life, aspire to be a whole person, and not just the half!
“It’s in responsibility that most people find the meaning that sustains them through life. It’s not happiness. It’s not impulsive pleasure”. – Jordan Petersen