Last week (or maybe two weeks ago, I am losing track), I participated in a round table-esq discussion about some pertinent topics regarding HR called “Raging Debates in HR” by Halogen Software (Halogen is a former sponsor). Jason Seiden actually brought up some good points about the question regarding “weisure.” Have you heard of this term? It is a bastardization of combining “work” and “leisure” together.
I hate the work/life balance discussion. Unless you are in a position where you can control or ditch a poorly balanced job, there is no control over balance and no choice to make. I know some will argue that you may have more control than you think but for many others, a job is a means of survival. That means if the boss asks you to come in on Saturday and you miss Billy’s soccer game, there aren’t very many people who can correct that in short order.
There is a reason why so many talking heads feel so confident talking about it: talking heads have had control over their balance for a long time. When Jack Welch talked about work/life being a choice at SHRM, it is because it has been a choice for him for more than two decades. And guess what? For the most part, he has chosen work when he could have easily chosen a life of leisure all of these days.
Then we have people who love what they do and never want to take a day away from it. They have found balance and control through another technique and believe the key to balance and choice is to choose something you love. We all know it is just that easy too. I love basketball so I should play basketball. I could shoot hoops all day but nothing in life is going to overcome being 5’11″ and slow.
Most of us realize at some point that being independently wealthy is probably not going to happen and doing something you are truly passionate about is unlikely or unrealistic given that many of our passions are unprofitable. So what are the masses to do when confronted with work/life balance nonsense?
Most of the people who know me closely don’t know me because of my work. They know me because of who I am. Certainly work factors into that but so do a lot of other things. Your job may be a necessity but so is sleeping. It can be inconsequential to who you are as well.
I am not saying it is good or bad to be career obsessed either. I could really care less. What I am saying is that the only thing you have absolute control over is whether or not your career defines you. You may have variable control over everything else (balance, choice…) but you do have control over what defines you.
Have you watched an episode or two of Dirty Jobs? I love the show for several reasons but watch the show closely next time you get the chance. You’ll see people who typically like what they do but probably don’t take it home. There is some satisfaction in enjoying their work but they are probably known for hunting or baking or volunteering or whatever.
These people are living. They have taken this bogus work/life balance/choice advice and thrown it in the garbage. Nobody is passionate about scraping shit off of a sewer filter and nobody is getting independently wealthy doing it. They are living their lives, spending time with their family and friends and doing things they love to do.
I don’t see a problem with this. Do you?