An Alternative, Millennial Perspective on Work/Life Balance

Looking at work/life balance from a different lens and offering an alternative view on the topic

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This post comes from a place of inquiry, as I’m definitely not the keeper of all the answers. I’m trying (and hoping) to stimulate conversation around the topic of work/life balance. Whether it’s a recruiter at a company, a job posting, an article in the business section of an online newspaper, the topic of work/life balance is constantly referenced especially when it comes to millennials. I recently read a post in the Bustle, which said “according to The Telegraph, millennials are prioritizing work-life balance over even job security. In a survey of 1,000 people ages 17 to 23, one third said work-life balance was the most important factor when choosing a job, with pay coming in second…” So, what is work/life balance to you?

On Instagram, I recently posted a poll with the question – is work/life balance subjective or objective? To my surprise, all respondents (about 20-30) felt work/life balance is subjective, which means it’s subject to interpretation depending on the person. Nobody, who responded, felt work/life balance is objective or this general concept with a ubiquitous understanding and meaning.

Is it something you need from your employer, or something you can live without?

Is work/life balance working 8 hour days and doing your thing before and after work? For instance, Amy gets into work at 8:45 AM, right before she’s supposed to start at 9 AM. She takes 45 minutes during his lunch to walk and leaves the office no later than 6 PM everyday, so she can workout and meet friends in the city.

Is work/life balance working through your lunch but leaving by 5 or 6 PM? For example, Tom gets into work by 8:30 AM, cranks work out through his lunch, but must leave the office at 5:30 PM in time to be with his family.

With constant access to email whether it be on your phone or your watch, is your work/ and life blended? I mean how many of you check your emails before you go to sleep and when you wake up… or if you’re anything like me, in the bathroom…

…Maybe you have an alternative view on work/life balance… like me.

Some people think work/life balance isn’t important to me given the amount of time I’m willing to put into my work. Many people, such as myself, have different tolerances for what they’re able and want to put into their work. What many people don’t realize about me is I’m okay with my work and life blending together, with one caveat – as long as my work is something I’m passionate about, enjoy, and see personal value in the end results. If I’m doing something I love, why would I want to stop doing it? For instance, I competitively danced as a kid. I loved to dance. I loved spending time at the studio. If all I could do was dance, I would. So, why stop? I was passionate about dancing, I enjoyed doing it, and the more time I spent practicing, the better I got. Therefore, I saw personal value in the end results. You could argue with me and say that’s unrealistic because when you’re a kid, you have far less responsibilities than when you’re an adult, which is true. However, I think you could incorporate your work into your life, as long as it’s a passion of yours. Also, work/life balance isn’t a real thing for me. It’s my personality. I was always a workaholic regardless of what the work was. I was the kid, who put additional hours into clubs and organizations because they were important to me, and I knew my hard work would matter. I like putting the extra hours to see positive outcomes. I come into the office early, I leave the office late. It’s just me, but that doesn’t mean that’s everyone.

About a year ago, I had a conversation with my cousin, who also has acted as a mentor to me growing up, and she told me work/life balance isn’t a real thing because there’s simply a lot of work to get done that needs to be of good quality. I’ve also had conversations with colleagues, who’ve said work/life balance is a see-saw. There are intense work periods which require you to work long hours and then periods where you can rest your mind, relax, and take-off from work for some time. For instance, you’re trying to build your business, so for over a year, you work hard establishing that business and aim to hit a target number in sales. You don’t take any time off for that year and work your behind off. Once you hit that target number, you wipe the sweat off your face, brush your shoulders off, and take a 10 day vacation to somewhere you’ve dreamed of going because you hit your goal.

The point I’m trying to make is work/life balance isn’t the same for everyone. Indeed, the topic seems like such a simple concept to grasp, yet it has so much depth. It isn’t a quick and easy answer. It’s a topic which requires great conversation from multiple voices – millennials and non-millennials, employers and employees.

I’d love to continue the conversation on this topic and hear different perspectives from you –

  • What are your thoughts on work/life balance?
  • What does it mean for you? How would you define it?
  • Have you expressed concern about work/life balance when interviewing or to your employer?
  • If you enjoyed your work to the fullest, would you be okay blending your work and your life?

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