The Work-Life Balance Fallacy

The work-life programs that corporate leaders celebrate are a farce. They’re feel good concepts pushed in an attempt to raise moral and show they care about their employees’ health and families. Of course, your company wants you to be healthy, but only so you don’t miss work.  In reality, their work-life programs are just for show.
Additionally, the work-life balance is a myth unto itself, at least in its most used definition. After all, work is an integral part of your life, thus I believe it’s foolhardy to think of it as a separate entity. So let’s talk about what’s really behind the theory and why it became popular corporate jargon.

30-40 years ago, employers were more frequently accused of, if not sued for, overworking their employees. Also, with specific regards to the United States, employees complained about having it tougher than their counterparts in western Europe. To appease the workers and the bad press, companies commenced promoting a work-life balance.

“We care about the physical and mental health of our employees,” they’d say. “Everybody should spend quality time with their family.” “Don’t think about work when you’re at home” And so on and so forth. The usual misdirection of corporate speak.

Unfortunately, I’m an engineer, not a beer league hockey player working as an engineer, so I, and many others in occupations in which you invest a lot of energy and passion, can’t just turn themselves off at 5p. That’s the fatal flaw in work-life balance for many of us. Work is an important part of our life, and our identity. To treat it otherwise is disrespectful.  Therefore, the perspective needs to change from “work versus life” to “a healthy life combines both work and home”.

So what combination of home and work should we strive towards? Well, that’s up to the individual, but it’s rarely a 50/50 split. Your combination may come to you quickly. It may come after a lot of experimentation. It will absolutely change as you get deeper into your career and as your life evolves.

Regardless of the individual, and regardless of the job, the right combination is one, that in the long run, results in the person feeling happy, accomplished, loved, healthy, secure, and fulfilled.

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