The myth of work-life balance

Why work-life balance doesn't exist, and how you can better prioritize your life activities

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There is life, and then there is everything you do with your life ... whether it be work, play, or anything in between

Work-life balance doesn’t exist.

It never has.

It never will.

It’s a term that people use when they want to better manage their profession and their personal life.

If that’s your prerogative, in which you totally differentiate and separate your work life and your personal life … by all means, take that prerogative.

But don’t make excuses for when you’re passed up for promotion, or when one of your personal relationships starts to dwindle.

I’m not advocating you work all the time. I’m not advocating you play all the time.

I’m simply advocating that you prioritize all the time.

You have one life. Your life is what provides you with your time on this earth.

With your time, you can pursue anything you want. Whether it’s a vocation, an avocation, or relationships.

The concept of work-life balance attempts to separate your work from your play. As if your life is disjointed.

At their core, your work and your play are subparts of your life. When you take ownership of your life, you take ownership of both your work and your play.

Instead of separating your work and your play, as the myth of work-life balance would have you to believe, I recommend that you connect your work and your play:

· First, understand that your work, your play, and everything in between are core elements of your life. Your life is the foundation upon which you build your dreams and interests.

· Second, realize that you should leverage your work and your play to benefit one another. For instance, if you’re dealing with a tough client at work, there’s nothing stopping you from applying your learnings at work towards your family life. The next time you get in an argument with a significant other or family member, stop yourself from thinking, “Great … I have to handle a tough client at work, and now I’ve got my *insert family member* to deal with.” Instead, use your insights from client confrontation management towards becoming more emotionally intelligent with your family member in question. Leverage the experiences and insights from all parts of your life, whether work or play, to enhance your decision-making and actions in every activity you engage.

· Third, accept that your work and your play are dynamic components of your life. Sometimes you have to take business calls on the weekend to setup future opportunities. Sometimes you have to care for an aging family member and take a leave of absence for a couple weeks. And that’s okay. Instead of fitting your work around your play, or your play around your work, you have to fit all elements of your life into your life itself. Looking at your activities as work vs. play, as opposed to fitting all your activities into your life, will create tension, stress, and unmanageable expectations.

Trying to find a balance with everything is exhausting.

Our lives are dynamic and ever-changing. Our life is not a balancing act – it’s a growth act.

We’re always learning, growing, and adapting.

Instead of trying to balance everything, you should OPTIMIZE everything.

Optimize by prioritizing.

There’s a reason the most successful people, in any field, are successful.

It’s not because they work all the time.

It’s not because they worry about balancing.

It’s because they pursue excellence in ALL parts of life. They don’t limit their 9-5 as their work time, and they don’t limit their play exclusively to “free time.”

In real time, they take advantage of opportunities and accommodate different priorities at different times throughout their lives.

They are flexible, adaptable, and resilient.

Stop trying to pursue an excellent work-life balance.

Instead, pursue excellence in work, play, and everything in between.

This is the way to purse an excellent life, which trumps all its individual components.

Integrate your work, play, and relationships. Synergize your experiences and learnings. Utilize your insights to develop an excellent life that fits your current needs and adapts to your future needs.

This quote from François-René de Chateaubriand sums up our learnings:

“A master in the art of living draws no sharp distinction between his work and his play; his labor and his leisure; his mind and his body; his education and his recreation. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence through whatever he is doing, and leaves others to determine whether he is working or playing. To himself, he always appears to be doing both.”

What will you do to pursue a more excellent life today?

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