My audition for TEDxWhistler
Are You A Work-Life Balance Impostor?
I have had an awakening — The “work versus life” duality is a myth. What looks like a fine balance could be a misleading imbalance unless it derives from a deep sense of inner centredness.
After working as an economist in rigorous academic environments for over a decade, we moved to Whistler with our daughters a few years back. I was enamoured by the balanced lives the residents of this tiny, picturesque ski town seemed to be living. Children here mostly go to school only four days a week. The fifth day is spent blissfully skiing (or tumbling) down the mountain in the winter, or gleefully riding on bike trails in the forests. Ski school, bike camps, and real school are all equally important parts of their lives right from the start. Adults here lead them by example. A ski run before reaching the office at 9 a.m. or a hike around Lost Lake at lunchtime is not unusual. This neat division of work and play felt idyllic.
Corporate culture and the media make it sound like work and play are mutually exclusive. A healthy work-life balance means keeping them in tidy separate boxes and then trying to find the sweet spot where trading one for the other brings our worlds into a fine equilibrium.
By that yardstick, all of us in Whistler have nailed it, haven’t we?
And yet, I have a nagging feeling that the seemingly healthy work-life balance in my town, I just described may be yet another type of imbalance — a compulsive pursuit of achievement in sports arenas instead of on the corporate ladder.
At school drop-offs, I have overheard parents affectionately discussing the colours of casts their children were getting their injured ankles into. Or mothers casually remarking that all they expect from ski school this year is that their six-year-old can ski double black diamond slopes.
In my beloved hometown of Whistler, play quickly morphs into work.
Real, serious work.
Evidently, boundaries around work and play are, at best, fuzzy. Not only in Whistler, but across cities, industries and professions. And so, trading off one for the other often tips the scales far too…