There's no such thing as work-life balance. There are work-life choices and you make them, and they have consequences, according to former GE CEO Jack Welch in speaking to the Society for Human Resources Management.
I tend to agree with Mr. Welch. We seem to be pursuing some phantom concept that has not taken into account the way the world is evolving today.
When we talk about work-life balance, we often form a picture of the family sitcoms from the 1950's. However not everyone wants that kind of life now. I can remember a family vacation from New York to North Dakota. Four kids are in the back of a station wagon, left to sort themselves out however they would. There was no entertainment other than looking out the window and so we just poked at each other and fought until the wrath of the front seat came down on us. Yet that was considered great family time.
Technology has changed family dynamics from sun-up till sleep time. Now children are strapped in and watching a DVD or playing with a handheld device. Dad's on the cell phone and Mom is texting. Does that mean they are missing something?
Instead of seeking an elusive work-life balance, I think a better approach would be to ask yourself a few questions to determine if you are making right or wrong choices:
- Are you doing something that you like with your time-both at work and home?
- Is there a build-up of stress because of task pressures?
- Have you taken time out for yourself in the form of exercise and hobbies?
- Does your family feel you neglect them?
In so many workplaces now, personal activities take place during business hours and work gets brought home. It is more a matter of where it fits best. If you are not happy with the way your days and weeks are structured, then definitely make the choice to find an alternative. On the other hand, if you are feeling accomplished and creative, regardless of whether it is work or play, life can be good. It may not be the Leave It to Beaver world, but it is our world, our life choices.