A Working Life; the fallacy of work-life balance

Originally Posted at: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/working-life-fallacy-work-life-balance-nicholas-grear

It seems to me that more focus, contemplation and discussion is centering around work-life balance. We discuss it with our partners, we discuss it with our colleagues, we lose sleep over it. We add it’s betterment to the list of ever unachieved new years resolutions. It is a battle we face throughout our life, more specifically our working life. We battle it until, rather than winning the war, we step away from it and retire. We rush towards the last portion of our life when we can finally do the things we want to do, see the things we want to see, and commiserate at finally having gotten out of the game. More often than not, when we have finally reached this golden milestone, pick up our long service rolex, and are wished the very best, we face the long abyss of life after work, with hardly enough time to do the things we always told ourselves we would do.

I am at the very beginning of my ‘working-life’, I am in my twenties and thus can be forgiven for flirting with idealism, passion and dreams. It is my belief that we have been told a lie. There is no ‘working life’ and there certainly is no ‘work-life balance’. It seems to me that in the end all the , on average, 82 years of our life are one thing and one thing only, our life. The time I’m at work isn’t a break from me ‘living’, the time I waste sitting in traffic isn’t a break from me ‘living’, the time I spend flicking between channels of shows I don’t want to watch after a long day at work isn’t a break from me ‘living’. It is my life, and depending on your religious views, it is the only life I have.

‘Work-Life Balance’ is just another hollow piece of business jargon that we are sold to distract us from seeing life for what it is. It’s another set of rose coloured glasses, or that sip of the cool-aid that we are all to happy to have.

By telling ourselves that things will be better when we perfect our work-life balance, we are setting up a frame work that allows us to avoid this reality. We are outlining caveats to our life, our story, that allow us to for a brief moment, push aside or hide our yearning to truly live.

If we refute the concept of work-life balance and accept that it is all our, much too short, life we reshape the conversation. When we bring this concept to the front of our mind we can begin in our own way to cultivate a life that we don’t need to escape from.

We are extremely fortunate in Australia that for the most part we do not have to battle every day simply to get enough food to let us survive to the next day. As such I would stress that we ,having started life with an advantage, have a moral obligation to truly live our life. As such I push the case to reject the concept of work-life balance and cultivate a life.

One of my favourite quotes is from an american author, Colin Wright. In his early 20s he decided to step away from the traditional construct of a job and a life and travel the world, while working as a freelancer to support himself. Now while I don’t know Colin personally I feel comfortable to say that he would not consider his work something that he has to balance with his personal life anymore. Again it is all his life. The following quote, struck me when I first read it some years ago, and I continue to be drawn to it, as I attempt to navigate my life.

You have exactly one life to do everything you will ever do, act accordingly

This surmises perfectly what I’m arguing. And thus I would adorn the same sentient to the fallacy that is work-life balance.

There is no work-life balance, simply a Life to be lived, act accordingly
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