A lot has been written about work-life balance—justifiably. As we move farther away from the inception of the information age and deeper into the era of the ubiquitous Internet, the concept of work-life balance becomes less helpful. But was it ever?
My contention has always been that work-life balance is an unattainable metric. So let’s get beyond the idea of pitting these two things against each other. Making “my work” and “the rest of my life” compete is an example of a dualistic approach to making sense of our world.
The problem with this dualistic approach is that it makes one “good” and the other “evil.” Guess which one becomes evil? That’s so “industrial age.” We’re never going to become whole people with this concept following us around. This is what keeps us watching the clock until 5:00 pm so that we can finally get to our real lives. This is what makes us look at work as that thing we do so that we can get to the weekend.
Dualism can help us make sense of our world from time to time, but it’s not helping us here. If we’re going to extract the best from each other, we’ve got to see ourselves as one whole, integrated being. I’m one being, not a worker 40+ hours a week and a father, husband, dog lover, the rest. As a matter of fact, my life is a work!
Pitting one against the other is not helpful to our personal lives, our work lives, or to the people we connect with in both. It’s a dualistic way to live that creates anxiety and confusion.
When we look at the lives of those who have accomplished great things, we see they had something in common—they integrated their “work” with their “lives.” One sphere fed the other. One brought meaning to the other. They were living one life, accomplishing one work. Humanizing the world of 21st century work demands that we take a new approach to our thinking. Jettisoning the dualism and its effects on our perceptions of work and life is one way we can all move forward.