Is anyone else getting tired of all the talk about work life balance? There seem to be endless articles, presentations, blogs, and discussions with their content being generally split between tips on how to achieve it and a warning to readers that work life balance is an impossible goal. All of which is predicated on the premise that your life consists of everything other than your work, and that more time at home and less time at work is the preferable outcome.
I’ve never seen a discussion of work life balance that advocates you should work more. And why shouldn’t you? If you love what you do – whether it’s at work, at home, or elsewhere – why not spend more time doing it? Rather than worrying about work life balance, a quantity vs. quality concept, a more productive approach is to focus on fulfillment.
How can you maximize fulfillment in your life? One of the easiest ways is to start by making two lists in relation to each area of life – one list that identifies the things you enjoy doing, the things that inspire you, and one that identifies the things that you don’t like doing, the things that frustrate you. Then, quite simply, come up with strategies that allow you to do more of the former and less of the latter!
Write lists for the traditional life areas of work and family, but don’t forget your social, spiritual, physical, financial, and mental areas as well. When you look at the list of things you enjoy, what’s standing in the way of you doing more of those things? Do you simply need to schedule them? Are there other things you need to get out of the way first? Do you need some form of cooperation from other people? Do you need to rearrange your financial priorities in order to participate more frequently in the activity you enjoy?
What about the things you don’t like doing? Can you delegate any of those tasks? Can you do them more efficiently? Can you just stop doing them altogether? Be merciless in your assessment and beware of your own ego. Despite your initial reaction, it is unlikely that you are the only person that can do the thing you dislike, and it is even more unlikely that the world will fall apart if you stop doing it or do it less frequently.
Ban the words “work life balance” from your vocabulary. Those words inevitably lead to a discussion that focuses on the amount of time spent in activities and distracts you from the real priority which is the quality of that time. Don’t bother asking yourself if your life is balanced. Ask instead whether you are fulfilled. It’s a much more powerful question to consider.