What We Think
January 17, 2022
There is no such thing as a work-life balance
The work-life balance concept has been thrown at us quite regularly, particularly over the last couple of years when we are (finally!) giving more importance to our mental health. This concept is about finding a balance, both in time and in energy, between work and life.
I never agreed with this concept, nor do I believe there is such a thing as a work-life balance.
The notion seems to imply that ‘work’ is a negative aspect of our life, and we need to manage it accordingly. We never hear about a ‘family-life balance’, or a ‘friends-life balance’, this is because family and friends are associated with positive aspects of our lives, and work should too! Work is not an external part our lives which we need to ensure we balance off with everything else, but it is an intrinsic part of it and possibly one we spend most time on. Therefore, it is extremely important that we are satisfied, motivated and most importantly, happy at work, because otherwise our whole life, which includes our relationship with family and friends, is going to be miserable.
The more we speak about a ‘work-life balance’, the more we make it acceptable that being unhappy at work is ok because it seems that it simply needs to be balanced out with the rest, more positive, aspects of our life. We do not need to run away from work to live our life, nor can we, work is a major part of our life, which we need to dedicate the same energy to as with everything else and ensure that it contributes to our overall wellbeing.
As with anything else, if we overdo it, and spend too much time working, this will result in a negative impact on our overall happiness. However, this applies to every aspect of our life, including the time we spend with family and friends, not just to work. I believe in a ‘life balance’, whereby we dedicate the right amount of energy and time to aspects of our life which motivate us and make us ultimately, happier individuals. This could include time spent with family, friends, traveling, and also to work. The differences with work are two-fold – firstly, we spend a lot of time there – typically around 60 – 70% of our lifetime, apart from when we are sleeping. Secondly, because, in most cases, not working is not an option. These two factors reinforce the need to ensure that we are truly happy at work and that our wellbeing at work reflects positively on other relationships in our life.
It is not something to run away from - we need to make sure that we look forward to going to work, wherever that may be, with all its ups and downs that it brings. Being happy at work doesn’t mean that things will always work out the way we want them to. It is about working hard at something we are passionate about and understanding that problems are simply situations which need to be dealt with.
I like to compare work with sports – the team that is having most fun is the one which is winning game after game, however, this is also the team that is working the hardest in order to achieve those results. Passion is key.
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