Hello Everyone! I’m Matt and in my travels and web-meetings as a Business Consultant, Coach and Mentor, I speak to a lot of people about their Work Life, what that means to them, and I get this priceless chance to dive into how it’s different for different people. Quick note – I’m a straight white male, so factor in any privilege or bias that could come with as you read.
Top considerations, according to those I meet with around Work Life, certainly include how to shut it down, turn it off, tune it out, create separation, how to “leave work at work,” and more. An interesting confusion is exactly how to minimize obligations created by the workplace that are “nice to have” but present to us as pre-requisitions for the bonus/raise/promotion, or, at times, even just for maintaining the status quo.
These demands sound even higher for anyone I listen to that’s a minority, although I only have anecdotal experience through conversations to back this up, and due to my integrity around privacy and confidentiality I’ll not share specifics.
Please comment or share if you are affected by the demands of your Work Life at a disproportionate level because of who you are, and if motivated, feel welcomed to share any solution that you believe we can share and repost.
I listen to people that develop unhealthy reward systems that, sound like they’ve been exacerbated by the pandemic, the variety of responses to it such as isolation, working from home, etc. And these are just conversations I’m having with people who are currently employed! Countless have lost income, their business, their position, or the employer closed for good, on top of other losses of life, health and time that I can’t hope to do justice here in this post.
I’ve found that whether someone is family-oriented or not, in a relationship or not, likes to travel or is a homebody, an entrepreneur or a corporate employee, or from any corner of the earth imaginable, there’s a special attention that everyone pays to the question of how much of our waking lives that Work should be devoted to. For some it’s about managing personal time, obligations, being able to relax or fit in nature or hobbies, for others it’s about mental health, for some it’s just family, or maximizing their returns or income to be able to change their station in life.
So I’ve recently read that “there’s no such thing as Work Life Balance” which is obviously not true as we can look essentially anywhere in our lives to identify people that actually have achieved it (not as they present on their site or social media, but in actuality).
Furthermore, I keep hearing crazy buzzwords such as Work Life Harmony and Work Life Integration, in posts, blogs and just in conversation. Like. . .a lot.
I appreciate contrasting viewpoints to my own and love to listen and talk about them! I want to acknowledge that I could be incorrect about my assumptions, conclusions or am subject to cognitive bias, therefore, today I’m intentionally making space for understanding these alternative viewpoints. Comment or share with your “hot take!”
So let’s examine.
By simply “calling it something different” - does that now or ever solve for any group, whatsoever? Does changing the title of “the thing” help in any material, quantifiable way? Why when we dig in, do we find circular logic, or one person’s story that misrepresents a population, as well as a lack of tools, templates and resources to actually solve the work/life equation?
Is this a re-branding of the problem to evoke a viewpoint? If so, that is absolutely not a solution.
My concern is when someone (leader, mentor, coach) says “Work Life Balance is impossible to achieve,” (not accurate) or that “it’s simply your viewpoint that’s off, not your _______ insert actual personal struggle here.” At the best case, to someone going through a real struggle, this can be felt as gaslighting, and at the worst-case, unfortunately it can come across as victim-shaming.
Any situation could call for a mindset-shift, no question!
But let’s please ensure to give space for what’s actually going on with someone we meet today because we may have zero experience with their issue, and it probably won’t be solved with a singular idea. We don’t really have any idea what they’re experiencing and “changing an outlook” doesn’t always solve real personal problems.
Reply with the part of the Work Life Balance discussion that you believe I’ve left out. Happy to keep the dialogue going!