Work-Life Balance – Myth or Reality

Since my wife is vacationing in Europe with family, the whole concept of ‘work/life’ balance has been occupying my thoughts of late.

I often wonder if my work/life scale is in balance or in a state of constant flux. Sometimes I feel like I am back in 9th-grade science class, trying to balance one of those metric scales with strange substances on each side (one of which was sure to cause a chemical burn).

How do we ever really know if we are balancing our businesses or careers with the other aspect of life?

When I worked in corporate America, it was widely assumed that anyone who had a ‘work/life’ balance was not serious about their career and they were doomed to the droves of mediocrity. I remember having lunch with about 7 or 8 co-workers one day and the subject came up. Here’s an excerpt from the conversation:

Person A: “Jim? Yeah, Jim has a pretty good work/life balance.”

Person B: “True. But he’s probably not going to get anywhere that way.”

Person C: “Right. He’s just not at that level yet.”

For some people, I doubt that serious thoughts about anything other than work or career advancement enter into their psyche. For others, I think they dedicate as few neurons as possible to work.

I admit to being only a partially painted canvas, specks and blotches of paint slapped on with the beginnings of shapes taking form. I am evolving.

What amazes me is how many people wear the markings of a zero balance life like a badge of honor. Strained relationships, poor health, chronic fatigue, high stress. I have too often worn these markings proudly, only to realize that nobody really thought they were cool.

Work/life balance is not something easily divvied into piles of type A and type B personalities. It goes much further than that. For many, work defines their life. Therefore, the subject of balance is non-existent – there is nothing on the other side of the scale.

Have you ever heard an American make fun of the fact that many European countries take extensive summer holidays? I am not sure if this smacks of only pure jealousy or downright contempt, but it always seems to be said in a tone that implies that ‘Europeans are lazy.’ Lazy? Or perhaps more balanced?

The question of whether work/life balance is myth or reality is most definitely not going to be settled over the course of a blog post.

As I sit and type in the early morning of Memorial Day, I can only ponder further and continually evolve in the direction of my optimal lifestyle. I like the challenge.