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The Fallacy of Work-Life Balance
May 17, 2011

Do you find yourself being challenged to find a healthy balance between your career and life outside of work?  The term work-life balance first appeared in 1986 in the US in response to the increasing demands of work and career and their effects on ones’ lifestyle outside of work.  Many companies, as well as employees, have struggled with this concept since that point.  There have been endless corporate programs, training sessions, and efforts to try and obtain an effective balance between work and life outside of work.  Is the term work-life balance something that you should really be striving for, or is it a complete fallacy?

The term work-life balance is really misleading at best.  Balance is defined as “a state of bodily equilibrium”.  So, the term itself assumes that your work and life outside of work should be in complete equilibrium.  While this seems like something to strive for, do you really want to have complete balance between your work and your life outside of work?  What does that even mean?  By defining this as your goal, are you setting yourself up to chase after something that is not only impossible, but perhaps not even desirable?

Perhaps a better way to define work-life balance would be to slightly shift your goal to one of work-life integration.  Integration is defined as “behavior, as of an individual, that is in harmony with the environment”.  By shifting your focus to integration instead of balance, it sets you free from chasing after the impossible equilibrium of your work and life, and allows you to determine how to create an environment that is in harmony with your overall life goals.  Which one sounds more empowering to you?