“Work/Life Balance” May Be Bullshit, But Balance Isn’t
I tried to like this piece. I read it a few times, picked it apart, and truly thought to myself whether I agreed with it or not. I understood it, most parts at least, and in the end concluded that I disagree with the core message.
Yes, you can love your job. You should love your job. You should only be doing a job that makes you happy, enthused, engaged, and grateful to be there. You should leave a job that makes you miserable, that makes you crave 5 pm or Friday afternoon, or whenever your workday happens to end. You should do this because no person should allow his or herself to be unhappy for a very large portion of their waking life.
This is obvious.
I also agree that work/life balance — the term as a whole — can be disputed. Indeed work and life can and do go hand in hand. Our working life need not be confined to a set of hours and be forgotten once we leave wherever we’re working from. If you’re someone who truly loves your job, many things you learn doing other activities outside of the regular workday become a part of your work — they inspire you, push you, and help you grow your skills. Your work can be a part of who you are.
But many of the things that you should do in your life are done outside of working hours. Getting a good night’s sleep, spending time with your loved ones fully, indulging in hobbies and side projects, reading, exercising, playing sports, watching movies — these are all activities part of your life outside of work. Weaving your work-related activities into these can be harmful — not only to your own mental health, but to your relationships with people who care about your presence. Not just your physically being there, but your genuine existence in the moment.
I know many people who love their job. People who are good friends with their colleagues, are eager to begin their week and stay late, whose work is very much woven into their “life outside of work” — I’m even one of them. But the people who matter to me and whom I know I matter to, we have managed to find a balance — because we are actually present. We don’t proclaim “TGIF” or groan on Monday mornings, but we do become fully immersed in a number of pleasures without any relation to our work.
Sure, if you truly love what you do you may not call it work. But whatever you do choose to call it, not everything you do should be involved with it. A computer programmer may love what she does, and think of it more like an activity and passion, but having other unrelated activities and passions is just as important.
“If I could decide, on Mondays we should all celebrate because the world is awake again. We can work, get some shit done and do what we love.”
This is my biggest problem with the piece — implying that the world sleeps on the weekends and a new workweek is a time for celebration. All of life should be a celebration. If you’re sad at the end of a regular “workday” then you need to find other things in life that make you happy.
It isn’t about work/life balance — the term is bullshit. But the words used shouldn’t be the focus. The point is balancing life in its entirety : the work, the getting shit done, the things that we love, the things that we hate, the things that we’ve always wanted to do.
Finding balance isn’t a problem, it’s an important part of life.