Work/life balance is such an overused and incorrect term. No one who critically thinks about it actually believes work and life should balance. Balance by definition means they should equal but it seems pretty obvious they do not.
What is the difference between work and life? You live 24 hours a day and you probably work between eight and 12 hours a day. Those working hours are still part of your life, right? So how can you really differentiate between work and life. I don’t think you can.
It seems everyone talks (or complains might be more accurate) about work/life balance. There are books, podcasts, panels, etc. all focused on this terrible phrase. In fact, I was recently in a company and saw a sign for the “work life and diversity” department. Are there really departments for work/life balance? Wow!
In my opinion, work/life balance should be called “priority management.” I was asked by a former colleague to be a participant in a work/life balance panel for an accounting organization. Had it not been for an inch of ice we received that morning, we were set to have well over 100 attendees at this meeting. Even with the ice, I think more than 50 attended. That’s says something about a subject’s popularity when a person will risk life and limb to attend. During our discussion on the panel, I gave my thoughts on what work/life balance really means. I achieve work/life balance if I can meet two priorities.
- I will never miss a church service, unless I am traveling at the time of the service. God is the priority for my wife and me. We vowed to live as Christ did and raise our children to be faithful to his teachings. How can we expect our children to respect our teaching if we don’t even live the way we should. We attend church services on Sunday morning, Sunday evening and Wednesday evening. There are also many other church-related events in which we participate. Even though it is a huge time commitment and keeps us from doing other things, there is nothing we would rather do.
- I will never miss a major family event, unless I have to be traveling at the time of the event. The demands of my job require that I have many day-long trips, overnight trips and work long hours in the office. Thankfully, in the age of technology in which we are blessed to live, I can often work remotely. My oldest daughter plays competitive volleyball. Club volleyball season has the most tournaments during the first quarter of the year which is also my busiest time of the year. Her first season of club ball, I made it to only about half the tournaments. That left my wife alone with our two-year old half the time. After that season, I committed to making every tournament. That was good because by the next season, we had another child. That lesson taught me that work does not come before my family. Even last week (Halloween) I waited until 9 p.m. and trick-or-treating was over before I left for a three and a half hour drive to a client for the next day.
As long as I meet those two priorities, I consider myself to have work/life balance. What are your priorities? What are your thoughts on work/life balance? I’m very curious to know what others’ priorities are. Please leave comments below so others can learn from you.