Ultimately, there is no such thing as work-life balance. As Marcus Buckingham and Ashley Goodall wrote in Time magazine, “Work is not the opposite of life. It is instead a part of life — just as family is, as are friends and community and hobbies. All of these aspects of living have their share of wonderful, uplifting moments and their share of moments that drag us down.” This makes a lot of sense to me, particularly being self-employed. It would be hard to spend five years growing a business I had no enthusiasm and joy for.
I work as a college counselor because I care deeply about education and helping students find and attend a college they love. I talk with my friends and family about the colleges I visit, the insights my students share, and the inequities I hear about in the application process. Sometimes my work happens while I’m living my life. And last week, I went to a spin class at the studio where one of my students works. The night before class, she sent me her latest essay draft along with a reminder to bring water the next day. Sometimes my life happens when I’m working.
Brad Stulberg, co-author of The Passion Paradox, describes “the conventional definition of work-life balance [as] doing equal things in equal proportion,” as though with enough effort, you could solve the supposed incompatibility between the two halves of your life. Instead, maybe we should stop trying to figure out whether we’re “living to work” or “working to live,” and just acknowledge that we live and work, sometimes equally and sometimes one more than the other.