For starters, the term itself is flawed. Work and life are not two opposite sides of the scale you’re trying to balance. Work is part of life, not distinct from life.
Second, the idea of balance is overrated. Balance indicates an even-ness, an equality that’s difficult, if not impossible to attain. For instance, you have a family situation that requires a great deal of your personal time. The scale is going to tip heavily to that side of your life and make you unbalanced – which feels very stressful if you feel pressured to immediately restore balance. Your priorities tell you to focus on family while the need for balance says get back to work. Aargh!
Personal and professional lives should blend – not balance.
Think of this potential to blend in terms of a color wheel. Say your individual personal life is red. The part of your personal life that includes friends and family is yellow. Those two areas frequently overlap, creating a vibrant orange. Red, yellow, orange. Three colors which are lovely, but also limiting.
Your professional life, on the other hand, is blue. Blue is pretty, but still, just blue.
However, when you blend red, yellow and blue you have every color imaginable available to you! There’s no limit to what you can create when you take bits from each part of the color wheel and blend them to create new, inspirational colors.
The idea of blending rather than balance, is achievable and more accurately describes how you live your life. You don’t leave your personal life behind when you sit at your desk. Neither do you leave your professional life at work when you close up shop at the end of the day. A few behavioral changes aside, you are the same person at work and at home. (For many people, work IS at home. See below.) You have the same preferences, challenges, dreams, and strengths regardless of where you are, physically and mentally, in a given moment.
According to Freelancers Union one in three working Americans is an independent worker – and the number is growing. Independent workers — and even those employed by larger companies but who are also responsible for how they manage their time — must be able to shift from personal to professional and back again many times in a day.
It’s a Personal Professional Fusion.
What you call it matters because words have power. If you’re expending vast amounts of energy trying to create work life balance and not succeeding, it feels like failure. How can you fail at something that’s unrealistic in the first place?
Take a look at the fusion of your personal and professional lives and assess whether what you’re experiencing works for you. If not, make some changes. Not to achieve balance, but to experience the “colors” that motivate you, excite you and bring you success, peace and fulfillment.