Newspapers and magazines are full of stories about work-life balance — why it’s important, how to achieve it, and why so many people struggle to maintain it.
It’s a relatively new buzzword and, like all fads, is sure to be replaced at some point by another new one!
But I want to talk a bit today about the idea of a work-life balance and why we need to replace it with a work-strive balance.
This may sound controversial, but a work-life balance is not a goal I would recommend aiming for.
Success isn’t based on compartmentalising your life.
That’s an impossible task anyway, plus chasing work-life balance sets you up for failure.
It also suggests that life is separate from work and I’m a big believer that the passion you feel for both influences the other.
Here are some of the main problems with aiming for a work-life balance:
1. It’s almost impossible
Naturally, the busier you are, the harder it is to set time aside for yourself.
The idea of work-life balance is a problem because it gets people tied up in all sorts of knots.
We all become so focused on achieving this goal of a “balanced life” that it becomes one more stressful thing on our to-do list.
It sets us up for failure because it’s an impossible ambition for most people.
There is nothing wrong with failure, of course, but there is something wrong with aiming for something that is almost impossible to achieve.
Another way of putting it would be that it’s a waste of time.
2. It’s unhelpful
There are periods in our life when working on investments or our business will consume much of our time.
This is OK. In fact, it’s necessary.
If you’re passionate about your work then you can cope well with this kind of workload for as long as it’s necessary.
To strive for a work-life balance at this stage, would be foolish.
3. It makes people feel guilty
Time is precious for all of us so what we dedicate our time to has a real impact on the world and how successful we are.
Ideally, all of us would be able to dedicate time equally to family, friends, and our passions, but this is not going to be the case for most of the time.
Placing unrealistic expectations on ourselves just leads to feelings of guilt, which is not a productive emotion.
Nothing good comes out of feeling guilty all the time, and it certainly isn’t part of the psychology of success.
So, here’s a better idea: aiming for a work-strive balance. What does that mean?
It means instead of trying to balance work with hobbies or downtime, focus on using that time to strive towards what you love and what gives you meaning and fulfillment.
Some people would be miserable sitting around doing nothing.
In fact, many of the most successful people in the world work all the time.
They don’t have any kind of work-life balance, but this way of living gives them great pleasure (and success).
How do you know what you should strive for?
Ask yourself the following:
- What am I naturally passionate about it?
- What activities do I lose all sense of time doing?
- What gives me energy?
- What would I do for free?
So strive to do what you love and what gives you energy in your so-called downtime.
This could be volunteering in your local community or it could be working on building your business.
And stop worrying about achieving a narrow idea of a work-life balance.
Go for what makes you feel alive!