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This Is Why Work-Life Balance Might Not Be What You Think It Is



Balance is about mathematical precision. It is the equalizing part of an equation. The suggestion is that whatever happens on one side of the equation must be countered and equally balanced by whatever happens on the other. That might work in math where things can be abstract and theoretical. But it does not reflect how life actually works.

There is an idea that what we do for work should not be allowed to intrude and adversely affect the other aspects of our life. In this way of thinking, work is viewed as something other than life. What it fails to account for is the fact that work is just as much life as family and entertainment. We could just as easily say that family should not be allowed to interfere with work. It is all just a matter of priorities.

If you want to be an architect, you have to devote yourself to being a student for some time. Other priorities have to be put on the back burner if you are going to attain your Master’s in Architecture degree and advance your career to the next level. Being a student at that level means making some sacrifices and deferring other pleasures for a later time. Super-serving one interest while deferring others is not the sign of a life out of balance. It is a recognition that some things are better done sequentially rather than concurrently. Here are are few other things you should know about work-life balance:

No One Has It Figured Out

Everyone has their own set of rules to live by to maximize your work-life balance. This is not a bad thing. It is helpful to learn from others who have figured it out for themselves, at least for a while. The thing you will notice is that all of the sets of rules you come across are different. There are as many ideas about the proper work-life balance as there are people expounding on the topic.

Work-life balance is a concept that is almost impossible to define in truly practical terms. Is it the percentage of one’s waking hours spent working? If so, what is the appropriate percentage? Is it 50/50? If that’s the case, very few average people are going to be able to pay their bills. If we allocate eight hours for sleep. We have 16 hours remaining. If the average workday is eight hours, that means we only have about 6 hours outside of work. The extra time goes into a one-hour lunch break and commuting in heavy traffic. For many people, the number of hours not devoted to work and sleep is closer to four or five. The key takeaway is you have to define work-life balance for yourself.

It Depends on Your Stage of Life

Some experts say there are five stages of life. That number will vary depending on which expert you follow. The important thing to note is that we go through different stages throughout life where priorities and balance are fluid. A retired person usually has a lot more time on their hands without work. That might seem like an imbalance until you factor all the time they spent working before retirement. You will have periods where you are building something great. And you will have other times when you can relax and enjoy the fruits of what you built. Life is fluid. So, too, must be your work-life balance.

When Work Is the Life You Want

Some people never retire because they love what they do. They were one of the fortunate people who got a chance to do what they loved for a living. They are happy to trade social connections that don’t distract from the meaningful work they do. Doctors put in long hours because they are people on a mission. Their job is not just a means of income, but a way of life. Musical virtuosos sacrifice their childhood and devote their lives to mastering their craft. They do what they love. That which you love IS your life. It need not be artificially limited to satisfy someone else’s idea of balance.

Work-life balance might not be what you think it is. By all means, it is worth pursuing. Just know that no one has really figured it out. It largely depends on the stage of life you are in. And if you do what you love, you might already have all the balance you need.

I'm Nikos Alepidis, blogger at motivirus. I'm passioned for all things related to motivation & personal development. My goal is to help and inspire people to become better.

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