Newsflash: The work/life balance is a myth.
Yep, I don’t believe that you can successfully maintain a long-term equilibrium astride these two forces. Something’s gotta give.
Before you protest too loudly, hear me out.
There are 8760 hours in a year, leap year excluded. Let’s assume I get 6 hours of sleep per night (I wish!), which tallies up to 2190 hours. 8760 – 2190 = 6570 waking hours. Now of those waking hours, let’s say I spend 50 hours per week at work, thinking about work, getting to work, or doing work at on my smart phone when I should be engaged elsewhere. That comes up to 2600 hours per year, or pretty darned close to 40% of my waking hours dedicated to work activities. (In reality, I see it as closer to or even well over 50%, but we’re being theoretical here.)
I apologize for the math exercise, but it helps me make my point. Too much of our consciousness is devoted to work to be able to rope it off from the rest of our lives. These are not mutually exclusive propositions; work and life not only intersect, but one is embedded in the other. How then, can we talk about balance? We should be talking about fit.
Ooh, that’s scary.
Why do we try to wall off our work life from the rest of our world? Why do we hide our “personal” selves from our colleagues? Wouldn’t the whole shebang go better if we acted, ahem, human with each other? Sure, we can’t spend the entire workday talking about our kids’ adventures or our last vacation or our sick dog; we’ve got work to do! But have noticed that I get a whole lot more done when I can identify with the people around me.
One of my favorite bloggers hit the nail on the head again yesterday when she wrote about being human in the workplace. Here’s an excerpt, but I encourage you to CLICK HERE and read the whole thing:
We can’t forget there’s also a human side to work. Work isn’t just numbers. Work isn’t just reports. Work isn’t just about the bottom line.
Work is also about human relationships. Work is about BUILDING those human relationships.
Because without those relationships, work is not possible.
It’s okay to show that human side of yourself while you’re at work. It’s okay to have a personality. It’s okay to be nice to people.
We’re not robots.
And honestly, I’ve found that when you share that human side of yourself with others, people are more receptive towards you. People like you more because you’re honest. You’re silly. You’re NOT perfect. You’re just like everyone else. You’re human.
We can’t keep trying to balance work and life. We have to realize that not only do they have to fit together, but we’re also happier when can be ourselves regardless of the venue. It’s not work vs. life. It’s work+life.