Work-life balance has become a popular term, but unfortunately, people have an oversimplified view of it.
It seems like one of the most common recommendations is that you keep your professional life and your personal life balanced. This may sound good in theory, but in reality, it has some serious flaws.
Work and Life Aren’t Mutually Exclusive
Here’s the biggest problem with the concept of work-life balance – it categorizes what you do for a living as work and everything outside of that as your life. You essentially have your job, which is there to make you money, and your real life. You need the work, but you shouldn’t work so much that it keeps you from enjoying your life.
This assumes that your profession isn’t an important, fulfilling part of your life. For many people, that simply isn’t true. If you’re passionate about your career, it becomes more than just work. It’s something you love and look forward to.
And it’s not like your life outside of your job is completely devoid of working. We all have things we need to do in life that we don’t enjoy. You may not like washing the dishes or cleaning your home, but you still do them. It would be silly to classify those as “life” instead of “work” just because of when you do them.
Another issue is that work-life balance assumes that you should spend a certain amount of time on each part of your life. For example, you spend the bulk of your time working or with your family, but you also find a bit of time here and there for the gym, to see friends and to do activities you like.
Who’s to say what “balance” is right for you? Maybe you would prefer to focus on building a career and devoting more time to that.
A Better Approach
If work-life balance isn’t the way to go, then what is?
A smarter way to classify your activities would be the things you need to do and the things you want to do. The things you need to do are those menial tasks, such as vacuuming your home or trudging through data entry at work. The things you want to do are the ones you enjoy, such as spending time with your kids at home or getting to come up with creative solutions to problems at work.
Even though it probably sounds like only doing what you want would be ideal, you need some of those responsibilities to give your life purpose. Therefore, it is important to have balance, just not between work and life but between needs and wants.
You don’t want to spend every day being bored at work and doing errands in your personal time. But without needing to do anything, it’s hard to know what you should do. Focus on aligning both of those elements and you’ll be much more satisfied with your life.