You need to quit chasing the work-life balance.
It’s time to kick back, put your feet up on your desk, and exhale.
There… Doesn’t that feel better already? Can’t you feel the pressure to keep all those plates spinning in the air relieving?
The work-life balance you’re striving so hard to obtain is about as elusive as a four-leaf clover. And if you don’t have the luck of the Irish, you’re probably not going to achieve perfect harmony in your personal and professional lives.
But you know what? That’s OK. The only thing you’re getting wrong with whole the work-life balance thing is subscribing to it in the first place.
When is it ok to give up? @theouttakesblo1 shares her experience on the struggle of #worklifebalance while running your business, and the importance of taking care of your physical and mental health by sometimes deciding to "give up." https://t.co/SNvTlYE466
— HERdacity (@herdacity) April 4, 2019
Here are seven reasons you should just push that pretentiously unobtainable goal to one side.
1. Elon Musk Said So
When Elon Musk took the decision to lay off 7% of his workforce at Tesla it probably wasn’t enjoyable. He may be many things but I doubt that Elon gets his kicks from dismissing his employees.
His constant media presence and our fascination with him get under my skin, I’ll admit. However, I have to hand it to him for telling it like it is.
There are way easier places to work, but nobody ever changed the world on 40 hours a week
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 26, 2018
He basically informed his employees if they wanted to keep their jobs at Tesla they should forget about things like family, friends, and health. Working 40 hours a week will buy you a ticket to mediocracy.
At least he was being honest.
There are many companies that can offer a better work-life balance, because they are larger and more mature or in industries that are not so voraciously competitive.
But, Tesla is not one of those… And I would wager that neither is the mature, large, and uncompetitive industry you work in either.
You will always have to place going to your kid’s soccer game or finishing a work presentation on the pendulum.
Whichever way you swing it, you’ll feel sick to your stomach. But one of your decisions will probably keep you employed.
2. Bringing Your Pet to Work Is Not the Same Thing
They say that Google is such a good employer because you can go to the gym on its premises. You can dine from several different restaurants, play Fusbal, lie back and think in idea pods, and even bring your pet to work.
How thoughtful. Allowing you to bring your personal life to the office rather than having one outside its walls.
— Take Your Dog To Work Day (@takeyourdog) April 2, 2019
There are even resources available to you to download to convince your boss it’s a good idea. Are these people on helium?
If you think that taking your dog to work means you have an understanding employer, wake up.
That’s not work-life balance. That’s employee exploitation. It’s also creepily Orwellian.
I’d rather know I’m working for a slave driver like Elon than a serpent in a basket enticing my children and animals into the workplace.
3. Technology Can’t Change Time Zones
We live in a global world. And that’s a beautiful thing. Communicating with friends and colleagues internationally has allowed us to expand our networks and access new cultures and markets.
It also means we’re completely screwed if we work with colleagues or superiors in different time zones.
It’s of no relevance to them whatsoever that you’ve already put in an eight-hour day when they’re waking up checking their emails.
Your devices will continue to ping as long as there’s “one more thing” that has to be clarified or another occasion that’s really “urgent.”
Let’s not even get started on the weekends or personal time. How many times have you been emailed with the line “I hope you’re enjoying your weekend/vacation”? Which basically translates into “I’m about to crap all over it.”
4. Achieving a Work-Life Balance Means Cutting Corners Somewhere
Here’s the reality of a work-life balance…
It’s a recipe for feeling like a failure ALL THE TIME.
You leave work early.
Well, actually, not even early, you just don’t stay as late as usual.
You’re already starting off on the wrong foot leaving the lion’s den to innovate while you’re ‘slacking off’ to see your kids.
You feel guilty. And at the same time, a part of you resents not being in the office.
You arrive at the unmissable personal event late and it’s probably over.
The disappointment and disdain in the eyes of your loved ones is palpable. You can actually feel a lump forming in the back of your throat.
Despite your very best intentions, you effectively failed at work. You failed at home. And you’re one step closer to getting an ulcer because you’re trying to achieve the impossible.
Take it from Elon, he’s worth a few billion… There is no such thing as a work-life balance.
5. We Live in an Imperfect World
You probably noticed by now, but we don’t live in a perfect world.
You can plan for a conference for months. Line up childcare, pet care, or just someone to water your plants. It’s all going to run like clockwork…
Then your parents get sick, the conference gets canceled, or the coldest blizzard since 1945 sets in… You get the idea.
There is no balance. There is no perfect world in which we should even be talking about balance.
It’s just another injection to the cash cow of the self-help industry that we keep on enabling by subscribing to this pointless theory.
— Professor Ian Welsh OBE (@IanMWelsh) April 3, 2019
6. You Snooze, You Lose
Maybe you work in one of those places where you can actually leave your work at the office. But in today’s environment, that’s unlikely. As long as you have a smartphone vibrating in your pocket, work carries on around the clock.
Just look at the crypto market the other day. Bitcoin leaped by around 20% in about an hour while most Europeans should have been in bed.
— Andrew Cook (@Acook3) April 2, 2019
The traders who had gotten used to the sideways pattern and were catching some z’s ended up kicking themselves in the foot.
Instead of freeing our time, technology has made us slaves to our every minute. And we have to live with that.
What we don’t have to live with is this hippy-dippy BS mindfulness cult that makes us constantly feel bad for not correctly apportioning our time.
7. The Last Financial Crisis Ruined Our Shot at a Healthy Lifestyle
JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs, Citigroup… they’ve got a lot to answer for. You can blame them for the fact that the work-life balance has gone out the window as well.
Businesses far and wide had to cut costs and lay people off. They started realizing that it was much more convenient to offer freelance or contract positions.
That way, they didn’t have to pay additional benefits. They could gloss right over vacation or sick pay while, at the same time, treating you like an employee and expecting you to work overtime.
Sort of like friends with benefits, without the benefits.
— barak ziv (@barakziv) March 26, 2019
You may even (and this always me want to puke) get formally accepted into the work “family.”
Be under no illusion. You’ll be out on your ear the moment the meeting with the accountant ends and the business needs to register more profit.
Being freelance or working on a contract gives us the freedom to change jobs as many times as we wish. That’s beautiful.
It also gives us heart palpitations that keep us awake at night wondering how to pay our bills.
So, take it from me. Or, take it from Elon.
Life is hard enough without worrying about how well you’re balancing it.
If you can crack open a beer while typing up a report or braid your daughter’s during a conference call, you’re probably doing just fine.
Images courtesy of Shutterstock.