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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

What Work-Life Balance?

We use the wrong language when we talk about "work-life" balance, according to Linda Hirshman, a regular writer for the New York Times and Washington Post.

Hirshman argues in Women On the Web (wowowow.com) that work is life. The more we, women especially, talk about finding a work-life balance, the more we will find our lives in imbalance.

"Don’t [workers] care about what they do at work?" Hirshman writes. "Is work a burdensome load they have to tote because they cannot afford to pay the bills if they do not drag themselves out of their "life" to work every day?"

Work, properly viewed, should be a place where people can be their best selves. It should be a place they are challenged in areas of creativity, problem solving, accomplishment, power and service (oh, yes, and in making lots of money).

When people talk about finding balance between work and life, don't they really mean finding ballance between "office life" and "family life " -- between two areas of satisfaction and accomplishment?

Why do we allow the fact that we "are required" to work in order to earn a salary to transform work into something odious? Sure, there are manipulative co-workers and overbearing bosses, but there are abrasive, insensitive people where ever we go.

If family is the "life" part of the equation, is "death" the work part of the equation. Instead, isn't it up to us to transform our work life into our "real life"?



1 comment:

Alexis said...

I think you have oversimplified this very complex topic. I have never heard anyone say they are seeking "death/life" balance. It's true there might be a better term to use, but even with fully satisfying work and home lives, there is still a need to prioritize our tasks and make choices about where we draw the line between these and other different aspects of our lives.

As an example, I thoroughly enjoy writing and working on my business, and could spend days at a time doing both. I'm also a full-time mother, and I love my time with my son. Seeking a fulfilling balance between the two in a way that lines up with my priorities and values is important to me.