The Work/Life Balance Myth

As my initial post in this category, I want to examine this notion of work/life balance.  What I think most people mean when they say that they want work/life balance is that they want to work less.  In fact, I’ve never heard someone say they’d like to work more!

Moreover, achieving some sort of “balance” between work and life seems like a zero sum game to me.  That  is, we want to “work” just enough to equal the amount of “life” we get to live.  Somewhat depressing if you ask me.   We need a shift in perspective.

What if we look at this whole notion as something that delivers the maximum amount of satisfaction and enjoyment in our lives?  That’s what I call “life balance” – a situation where we are actively managing all the demands in our lives to achieve the greatest reward.  Frankly, work is a part of life, a large part at that.  Therefore, I’d like to think we can enjoy it to a large degree as well!

Try this perspective on for size:

“A master in the art of living draws
no sharp distinction between his work and his play;
his labor and his leisure; his mind and his body;
his education and recreation. He hardly knows which is which.
He simply peruses his vision of excellence through whatever he is doing,
and leaves others to determine whether he is working or playing.
To himself he always appears to be doing both.”

Misattributed to Francois Auguste Rene Chateaubriand, when quoted by Yvon Chouinard (CEO of Patagonia) in Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman.  Originally stated by  L. P. Jacks in Education through Recreation. (Thanks to Greg Moreland, a college buddy and terrific professional magician for the clarification.)

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