The Truth About the Work-Life Balance Myth
Balancing responsibilities can be quite the challenge in today’s fast-paced, digitally-connected world. How do you find the time to balance a busy working schedule, social and family commitments, housekeeping, health and wellness, couch-potato sessions, and pet care, among other things?
Some would say the key is work-life balance. Others would strongly argue that the term “work-life balance” is a gross misnomer. Why? Because it’s just plain inaccurate. It suggests that work and life are two separate things. Which they’re not.
“Life is life. You live some of it at home and with friends and family, and some of it in your work responsibilities with colleagues, customers, and, yes, friends.”
“To manage being a devoted family member and spouse, plus a high-performing leader or business owner, sometimes is a balancing act–one everybody wants to master,” says Steve Farber. “And, good news, mastering it absolutely does not require you to be a slacker in either area.”
In fact, according to one study, top performers in business are the people most likely to achieve happiness in all dimensions of their lives.
Here are 3 tips to help you achieve balance and happiness in all aspects of YOUR life:
1. Love Your Whole Life
“If you think there should be a bright line separating “work” and “life,” you are missing out on fulfillment,” says Steve Farber. Jeff Bezos of Amazon, one of our era’s most successful entrepreneurs, believes the idea of work-life balance is too limiting. Here’s what he has to say about it:
“The reality is, if I am happy at home, I come into the office with tremendous energy,” he said. “And if I am happy at work, I come home with tremendous energy.”
Work and life are not a separate existence or a zero-sum tradeoff. That’s why you need to give 100% to your work and 100% to your personal life. Love your work with sincerity and conviction and love your home life, too. Commit to them both, unequivocally, all the time, advises Steve Farber.
2. Think of Your Life as a Circle You Complete
As Jeff Bezos points out, your life is not a train that drops you off at Point A in the morning and Point B in the evening. It’s more of a circle that contains everything you do and care about, with you at its center.
Being happy and satisfied with your life 200% of the time is a challenge. After all, it takes work to turn work into play. Don’t feel guilty that you can’t be at home during the day, then go home and feel guilty that you’re enjoying yourself during your off hours.
Instead, suggests Steve Farber, focus on being truly present in whatever place you find yourself, tuning in fully to the people who are with you–whether they’re employees, colleagues, customers, or family members at home.
3. Appreciate Doing the Work
Question: What does ready-to-assemble furniture have to do with balance in your life?
Consider the “IKEA Effect”—the idea that satisfaction increases when personal labor is involved. For example, if you buy a piece of furniture from IKEA and assemble it yourself, you will be happier with the purchase than if it came already assembled. Hence the concept that needing to do a little labor doesn’t diminish happiness but adds to it.
If you do the work of building relationships with the people you work with and develop strong feelings of commitment and attachment to all aspects of your work, including your projects and your people, it makes sense that you will be more satisfied with the experience, right?
And as Jeff Bezos previously observed, wouldn’t that experience carry over to your relationships and activities at home, too?
Yes, you have to balance your roles and responsibilities. You have to balance your relationships. And you have to balance the things you do for a paycheck with the things you do strictly for fun. But you don’t balance “work” and “life”, suggests Steve Farber.
“We live,” says Farber. “And we need to maximize our life experience wherever we are, in whatever activity we’re engaged in.”
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Also published on Medium.