Why Work-Life Balance is Irrelevant
Here’s what to balance instead for a superior quality of life.
Work-life balance is a myth, not because such a thing cannot exist. Rather, the very “work versus life” dichotomy is misguided.
Who decides how much of life is “work” and how much of work, is “life”?Most well-being literature makes it sound like these are two mutually exclusive activities. In reality, work is a subset of life, not separate from it. Work is too big a part of life to ignore, and all of life takes work. In fact, as we grow wiser and experience more and more of our lives, we come to the disorienting realisation that the boundaries around work and life are fuzzy.
There is nothing exclusively exhausting about work. In fact, it is quite the opposite if you pursue work that aligns with your core purpose. On the flipside, some of the things we do as part of “life” such as walking your dog in the dead of winter or commuting through traffic can be sapping.
My Approach to Balance
Yet, have you noticed that some of the sapping activities don’t feel that way? Here’s the secret -
How we do something is more important than which category (work or life) it falls into.
My personal approach to balance is based on this principle — the “how” matters more than the “what”. It has evolved a great deal over the last decade. Time and again though, I find myself asking questions such as-
Will this activity make me come alive or feel dull? Will this activity bring me back to my centre or imbalance me?
There are a few different heuristics to answer that quickly and decisively. However, before we dive into the rules of thumb, it is important to understand where the real trade-off lies.
The common underlying question that these rules help us answer is trying to find that sweet spot between centreing versus off-centreing experiences.
Here’s another secret — how we balance these changes based on our stage of life and personal growth.