Is There Such a Thing as Work-Life Balance?

Originally published on Meetings Focus Blog

For all the years I’ve had my business (34 this past June), I’ve never worked fewer than 6 days a week. Oh sure, I’ve taken vacation days and some sick days, but generally, I work.

I come from a family like that: my paternal grandfather worked for one company for more than 60 years, retired and then got another job. He died on his lunch hour from that one.

My maternal great-grandfather founded a retail and wholesale poultry company in which all of us worked at one time which meant, for me, school five days a week, working after school and on weekends most days when I didn’t have extracurricular activities or wasn’t at the library.

Some of my cousins, in their 70s, still work at least part time. I’m not bragging or suggesting this is the best way to live. It’s an “is” in my life and my family’s history.

When people talk about “work-life balance” I don’t really understand, though. I mean, I hear what they say and I am guessing they mean they want to make/take more time for friends, family, activities that are not work related, exercise, play.

But what if work has those elements and it provides what is desired in life?

I have written about being a life-long learner which allows me to explore ideas alone and with others. I teach which gives me great joy in helping others learn and though it’s classified as work, it’s more than that because I too learn when teaching.

So when I read this article about work-life balance with insight from George Mason University researcher, Beth Cabrera, I was pretty excited to see that at least in one person’s view, I wasn’t totally off base! Cabrera basically says that finding a work-life balance is impossible, but you can work to better align your time with your goals. Yes, this is more specifically about women because of the (usually) added responsibilities at home. Can it apply to everyone?

Oh and I know that saying about “when you die would you say you wanted more hours at work?” to which you’re supposed to say no. And then again, what if there is joy in what you do and so you would actually want more hours?

Is there such a thing as work-life balance for you? Is there something for which you strive?

If you had it, what would work-life balance look like? Will the future of work—especially for those who work at home or telecommute—provide more or less “balance”? Is it different for men and for women? Does it differ by age and where one is in life’s journey? What do you think?

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