Dragons and unicorns sort of intrigue me. They are merely mythological creatures. They’re not real. Yet, each has created an eternal legacy around itself. Leprechauns, Minotaurs, and even Bigfoot and the Lock Ness Monster fall into this same category. Despite their fabricated nature, their “existence” is very alive and well. They live on and cannot die.
The average full-time hourly employee works 2,080 hours a year; salaried employees generally far exceed the two-thousand hour mark. That’s 250+ days of work (after removing holidays and maybe a few vacation days). Of course, one has to factor back in the various weekend hours for business trips, checking emails, and finishing projects. Yes, as Americans we work… a lot.
At some point over the past several years a new term emerged most often referred to as… Work/Life Balance! It is described in many different ways and can take on many different forms. However, its general essence is understood to be the perfect union of one’s work life and one’s personal life.
Is Work/Life Balance real or another fictitious mythological creature?
The Minotaur is illustrated with the body of a man and the head of a bull. It is very easy to visualize because we know what a human body looks like and we know what a bull’s head looks like. (Oh yeah, in my mind the Minotaur has extra-long horns and wields a wicked sharp ax).
Similarly we know what work looks like, as referenced in the plethora of working hours mentioned about. We also know what our personal lives look like – all the stuff we do after leaving the office. Therefore we should be able to visualize this Work/Life Balance formation.
Somehow it’s not that easy.
Balance suggests equal weight is given to each component, or better stated the two components cannot be in opposition with each other. Furthermore, one’s personal life has to be independently healthy and happy. Same goes for one’s work life.
I’ve had jobs with great flexibility, company culture, and worked with amazing co-workers – but didn’t enjoy the job. The work itself wasn’t engaging or fulfilling. Everyone said it had great balance because it allowed “Life” to thrive even though the work part “suffered”. To me, that’s not balance.
Oppositely I’ve had jobs where I loved the work. However, other challenges around lower than expected earnings, difficult co-workers, or negative company culture caused these jobs to be less than satisfying.
So I get what Work/Life Balance should look like. I can even breakdown and understand the different components that make it possible. However, I’m still left searching to find it.
Will I eventually boldly declare Work/Life Balance’s reality?
Or will I endlessly search for the illusive entity?
If you have found it, let me know.
Image courtesy of saphatthachatf at FreeDigitalPhotos.net