Is Work-Life Balance a Pipe Dream?

October 21, 2022

Is Work-Life Balance a Pipe Dream?

“You will never find time for anything. If you want time, you must make it.” — Charles Buxton

With the Great Resignation, coming out of the pandemic, and the economic and job market’s current state, we have seen a rise in debates about work-life balance and prioritizing mental (and overall) health and well-being. The cry for better, more flexible working conditions has been louder than ever, and people crave more agency and independence in their careers today.

Companies are struggling to become more attractive to the workforce, offering hybrid and work-from-home options to job candidates. We still see a lot of the “earn your stripes” culture in corporate settings, but leaders are now more aware that those who disregard the desire for a more “balanced” work and life dynamic will be left behind.

Yet, we still see a divide on whether “work-life balance” is attainable (or even desirable) or if it is just a pipe dream.

In his post May 2022, Professor Scott Galloway of New York University Stern shared a sentiment that went viral on LinkedIn. His advice to young professionals is that “you shouldn’t be seeking balance in your twenties–but influence, relevance, and economic security.”

His advice rings true for a lot of us: we need to put a lot of hours into honing our skills and knowledge, and having the right network of people is definitely an advantage in getting ahead of our competitors.

However, I share a slightly different opinion.

I think it depends on what each person’s goal is. I know some people who are happy with working a good job and having time after to work on themselves and relax.

And I also know others who want to have more financial success, and they know it requires a massive grind at the beginning.

Neither group is right or wrong. It just really depends on the outcomes we desire.

I have always believed that the right words aren’t being applied to the desired meaning of “work-life balance”—that’s why I prefer to call it harmony.

Some days you work a shit ton, and other days you reprioritize and take a lot of time off. It is never balanced.

“You don’t get harmony when everybody sings the same note.” — Doug Floyd

Think of it like a great song masterpiece. Different instruments and vocals play at different times, at different volumes and dynamics, and yet the whole piece comes out harmoniously. It is not 100% balanced. It is having all the important parts playing together at the right place, at the right time, and with the right intensity.

The same is true in life. We can’t say, in order for our professional and personal lives to be balanced, that we would allot 50% of ourselves to each part—that won’t work.

If something matters to us–our careers, our families, ourselves–we need to be able to give it our 100% focus and presence when it needs us.

That is why calling it harmony instead of work-life balance allows us to function as we should: out of balance, and always having time to do what is necessary, prioritizing what is important in our lives at the time.

Work-life balance might be impossible, (or even–as others say–undesirable) but harmony is always available to us. We just need to be clear on what is important, what is our purpose, and what should be the priority, one day at a time.

Thank you for reading A Brilliant Tribe.