There is an ongoing debate about the use of the phrase work-life balance. Some hate it because it gives an unrealistic expectation of a literal balance in life (i.e. 8 of work, 8 hours of sleep, and 8 hours of play). Others are still using the phrase, but recognizing that life isn’t a true balance.
I do not believe that the overall concept of work-life balance is incorrect, but feel the name is a bit deceiving. This is why I decided to start using the term work-life harmony in its place. To me, this phrase removes the concept of unattainable balance and readjusts the concept to ask “How can you find harmony in your life?”. The mission of work-life balance was always supposed to be tailored to how individuals viewed their balance in life. However, I feel that using harmony recognizes this confusion of equal balance and offers a term that embraces the individual nature of this topic.
Our lives are complex and ever-changing. Due to this, what looks like your best harmony now will shift as your situation changes. A single person’s harmony will be different if they marry and have children. A young professional’s harmony will look different than someone who is retried. As our lives ebb and flow, we prioritize our needs and alter our harmony to adjust to our new outlook.
We are all different with varying wants and needs in our lives. With this, one’s harmony will be molded for the individual. In my life, this harmony has played a role in helping me achieve my personal and professional goals. I prioritize my sleep and ensure that I allow myself the opportunity to get 8 hours each night. I set time aside each week for activities that bring me joy. However, I do spend a lot of time working. Not at my employer (where I keep strict boundaries with my work and out-of-work time), but rather working on my own growth. In the literal work-life balance description, I spend a decent portion of my 8 hours of “play” working on me. These activities can include studying Spanish to improve my fluency, taking classes for my continuing education requirements, and making plans for my consulting business.
This is MY harmony, not yours. We cannot base our harmony on another person’s life. We need to look into ourselves and determine what harmony we wish to achieve. If we can’t attain that harmony now, what is holding us back? Are the barriers able to be controlled by us or are they out of our hands? Is your idea of harmony realistic? I ask this because many of us think of the goal to be able to quit our jobs and spend our free time as we wish. While it would be nice, it isn’t an objective realistic achievement that most of us can attain. Be an objective witness in your goal setting for harmony in your life. Be aware that you may not get to where you wish to go quickly. The path that you create for yourself is the goal that will teach you how to harmonize your life.
I am curious… what is your current harmony? Are you finding time to incorporate joyful activities in your life? How has your harmony changed throughout your life? What is standing in your way?