Work-Life Balance has never been about pitting one against the other and should never have become a conversation about time management. How in the world did this topic get so far off course and so far away from a conversation about people and personal interactions? I blame the “-” between the words Work and Balance. I assume that some time management guru thought we could all save thousands of milliseconds by separating the words with a hyphen instead of the word ‘and’. Instead, it has only served to misdirect the conversation.
Reinstating the “and”, we can discuss ‘Work and Life Balance’ as the concept of having balance in both our work and personal lives. Practically speaking, however, technology and culture have all but blurred the distinction between the various parts of our lives. So, the subject really collapses to a discussion of balance across the whole of our life.
Balance is something we experience; it’s a judgement that we feel rather than measure. Balance tends to be an emotional response that we know more by the negative feeling of being ‘out-of-balance’ than the positive feeling of being ‘in balance’. This is because being in balance allows us to be energetic, confident, ambitious and active. In other words, we are having too much fun to question the positive foundation that has allowed it. By contrast, being out-of-balance manifests itself in a shopping list of unpleasant symptoms: lack of energy, stress, tension, depression, and on it goes, all of which rob us of the joy we desire. When we are out-of-balance it is not just inconvenient, it’s a crisis!
Of course there are many influencing factors that determine our state of balance, but I have observed that there is one that stands far above all others. In my own life, I have noted that it is the state of my relationships that has the greatest influence on my sense of balance. Co-worker, spouse, friend, boss, it doesn’t matter who; if even one relationship is unhealthy it affects every part of my life and it negatively impacts my sense of balance. If relationships are the primary driver for balance, then balance is really an expression of our own emotional stability. Healthy relationships create a stable emotional base from which to operate. A bad relationship can rock the stability of our emotional base, negatively impacting our every experience and ability.