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Work-Life Balance: How Good Are The Things In The Balance?
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Work-Life Balance: How Good Are The Things In The Balance? - Executive Leadership Articles

Work-Life Balance: How Good Are The Things In The Balance?

Executive Leadership Articles

Work-Life Balance: How Good Are The Things In The Balance?

Everyone has advice for our eternal, impossible struggle for work-life balance, each with a different spin on what’s essentially the same idea. This person says it’s not about balance, but about overall quality. That person says work and life are part of the same thing, not in conflict but in sync. This person says it’s a matter of will. That person says it’s a matter of acceptance. What the variance in wisdom points to is that balance is different things to different people, and if you must keep testing different theories about achieving balance, it makes sense to keep trying, because you’ll eventually find the one that works for you.

Yet almost every approach we’ve explored in the past few years assumes a couple of things without really addressing them, among them the question of what we’re putting in the balance. Does it make sense to try and balance aspects of your work and life if you hate the very work you do, and if your life is by any measure frustrating? If you’ve ever been stuck in a job you hate, you know that no matter how few your hours in the office are, it’s always too much, and no matter how much time you get with your loved ones, it’s never enough. Likewise the unsatisfying home life: when things at home are bleak, we suddenly find all kinds of energy and time to give to the job.

Without first assessing what’s really going on with work, home, friends, family, community, church, pets, and hobbies, seeking balance is quite possibly an act of futility if the lack of balance itself isn’t to blame. If more time with the kids will by itself improve the quality of your family life, by all means you should go after it with everything you’ve got. But if more time only increases the tension without addressing it’s causes, what good is the balance?

In Do-Over: Rescue Monday, Reinvent Your Work, and Never Get Stuck (Portfolio, 2015), author Jon Acuff specifically addresses the pitfalls and opportunities in our career paths, focusing on what we can do today to make our careers better, and while he doesn’t say anything about work-life balance, he makes clear the value of the quality of the work part of the equation:

It’s on us. Though we often prefer to blame others or the economy or a boss who doesn’t “get us,” the reality is that a better job begins with building a better you. Work is not the enemy. Work does not have to be a miserable bar-free prison we voluntarily serve time in until the parole of retirement. On the contrary, work can be great. Work can be wonderful. If we rescue Monday. If we dare to reinvent it. If we refuse to get stuck.

Acuff reminds us that how good our jobs are is up to us, and with some energy poured into that, the quality of our lives is increased all around. The same can be said about other facets of our lives. This is no self-help mumbo-jumbo (unless you want it to be), but a nudge in the direction of first making sure that what’s in the balance is good stuff, so that the desire to keep it in equilibrium is not simply wasted energy or effort. If balance in your career and life seems elusive, perhaps it’s an issue of the quality of life, not the quantity of life.

 

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Work-Life Balance: How Good Are The Things In The Balance? - Executive Leadership Articles

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