A common misconception about (work-life) balance

Majority of us work towards achieving this goal of work-life balance. What we refer to as work-life balance is really equilibrium. That’s why, when we pay attention to work and we miss certain aspect of life, we are quick to say “I don’t have a life”. If equilibrium is what you mean by a balanced life, then you are chasing a goal that you will never achieve, that balanced life is a myth.

“Equilibrium, in physics, the condition of a system when neither its state of motion nor its internal energy state tends to change with time. A simple mechanical body is said to be in equilibrium if it experiences neither linear acceleration nor angular acceleration; unless it is disturbed by an outside force, it will continue in that condition indefinitely ”— Britannica’s Definition

Equilibrium in layman’s term simply means equality. A state where the force and energy on one side of a lever is the same as that of the opposite side. We usually mean equilibrium when we talk about work-life balance. A state where we invest the same amount of energy and time in work and in personal life. The more we fall short of this equilibrium, the more we try. It’s a never ending loop.

Even nature cannot serve humanity equally. Some part of the world experience extreme winter more than the other and some experience extreme summer more than the other. Some times we experience a longer day, shorter night and sometimes we experience a shorter day and a longer night. Why then do we as human strive to be “balanced”.

“Life balance is a myth. It’s an illusion and the pursuit of it is driving us crazy. For me, it’s about proportion, it’s really a work hard/play hard equation” — Danielle LePorte

It is understandable to want to be extraordinary and extremely successful both at work and in our personal life. How then do we expect to be successful at both sides when we have divided attention?

I like the idea behind children playing the seesaw, the fun in this simple machine is, when one goes up the other goes down and they rotate it in that matter. Both child experience the highs and the lows at different time, if the high means success, both will have their share of success and fulfilment in time. While a child is the process of going up, the other child going down is yet to recover from the experience of being at the top. This is true meaning of a balanced life.

Balance has a lot to do with prioritising. Priority changes with time. What matters and seem critical today may not mean anything tomorrow. Balance is about giving priority to what matters at every point in time while making adjustments for others. You can’t control what life throws at you at different point in time, but you can choose to focus your energy and time on what truly matters at that point in time.

“Like it or not, the world evolves. Priority change, so do you” — Marilu Henner

There are critical moments where work or business demands your full attention and commitment, most of the time this happens when you, your organisation or business are in the middle of a transition or trying to beat a major competitor in the market. Balancing requires that you focus your energy and attention on achieving this, while you adjust your other commitments. Also there are critical moments where family or friend demands your full attention — for instance, there are moments in your spouse or children’s life you can’t afford to miss, balancing requires that you give them priority while you adjust commitments on every other aspect of your life. Spending time with a depressed friend might just save that friend from committing suicide.

Putting It All Together

To be successful at anything, you much give it all the quality time that it demands. To be successful both at work and in life, you must choose what matters the most at every point in time and give it all the quality time that it demands. Switching effectively between these extremes is really what is called balance.

Have a balanced life!

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