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Work-life balance: Does it exist?

I’ve heard conversations about achieving work-life balance since I entered the workforce. As a junior, I was adamant to learn from others’ mistakes and take on their wisdom. I vowed to resist becoming a workaholic with nothing else to speak of except my work; I was determined to be a well-rounded individual. However, my illusion was shattered when a senior colleague told me there’s no such thing as work-life balance. Sometimes work takes preference and at times it will be other things, but hardly ever will these be balanced.

I often think about this conversation, especially during the busy weeks when I try find some sort of calm in the midst of chaos and a routine that allows me to still get a decent night’s sleep and spend time with those close to me. It’s nearly impossible. It makes me wonder where the notion of work-life balance came from. It implies that work is something to tolerate, that pays the bills, and that what we do outside of it is pleasurable and enjoyable. Why is it difficult to imagine that work and everything else can be merged, coincide happily so that no-one ever has to strive for work-life balance, because it’s all just life?

Three woman on road bikes chatting.
Never feel guilty about taking time off to indulge in other things you love.
Photo by Coen van den Broek on Unsplash

The only way to achieve this is to find a career you’re passionate about. As the old saying goes, “If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life,” and it’s true. There’ll still be tough days, but work will hardly ever feel like a burden. However, many of us aren’t lucky enough to follow our passions and make a career out of it. What do we do then?

  • Find a job that you at least like. Doing something that you like 80% of the time is a good start. It will mostly be effortless and enjoyable.
  • Have a side-hustle that speaks to your passions. If you can’t do something you 100% love, start a side hustle that you do. Hopefully it grows into your career over time.
  • Draw up a schedule and stick to it as much as possible. Get into a routine working set hours and spend the rest doing other things you love, be it relaxing with friends and family, catching up with a good book or series, or anything else you enjoy doing.
  • Take up a hobby and make time for it. You’ll have something to look forward to and this will (hopefully) prevent you from working too much.

Only time will tell whether we’ll stop striving for the myth that is work-life balance, and focus on building a fulfilling and enjoyable life as a whole. In the meantime, strive to live for more than just the weekends.

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