Rethinking Work-Life balance

This post by Blake Commagere fits well with the type of retrospection that many of us seem to engage in around this time of year:

Rethinking work-life balance

It is fascinating how Blake gets it 100% right and 100% wrong at the same time.

He correctly identifies that the work-life dichotomy does not make sense (to a point of causing harm) for those of us for which work is not a necessary evil required for “paying the bills”, but a more profound vehicle for finding purpose and meaning in our lives.

He also correctly identifies that the different “parts” of our lives are intertwined, and our state-of-mind  and our behavior act as a feedback loop, either a positive or a negative one, tying all of those activities together into one system. Therefore, activities that were traditionally bucketed into the “non-work” part of the equation: exercise, sleep, eating healthy, strong social connections (the latter is often overlooked) can have a profound positive impact on our work when they exist and a profound negative impact on our work when they don’t.

Where Blake goes from here is where his reasoning and mine diverge. Blake adopts work as his primary frame of reference, and rationalizes investing in the non-work activities through the positive impact that they have on work. By only acknowledging a  one-way connection (from non-work to work), maintaining the dichotomy (in a sense) and ignoring the intrinsic impact of these activities, he is not taking his conclusion far enough and may end-up with a sub-optimal outcome, IMHO.

An alternative frame of reference would put purposeful and meaningful life front and center instead. It would recognize that all the activities and non-activities (sleep, meditation, etc.) that we choose to engage in, either contribute to it or subtract from it both directly and indirectly – through the impact they have on other activities. This “global optimization” problem is a harder problem to solve, and I haven’t found any short-cuts to solving it (yet). But it’s also what makes life fun and interesting.

This is the paradigm that I choose to adopt. What’s yours?

Happy New Year!

Rethinking Work-Life balance

One thought on “Rethinking Work-Life balance

  1. Areader says:

    I agree that life is more than just work and non-work. Many people seem to have this picture that life is about finding the point on a balance scale; I think a better way to think is finding the center point on a balance board. Obviously finding the center on a plane is much more difficult than a line, but it is also so much more fun! I’ve found that being extremely/equivalently conscious/purposeful during the time at work, exercise, rest, etc. helps me find the global optimum.


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