Being a public advocate of work-life balance I often get reactions like this when I send an email to people late a Saturday night: “I just noticed the time of your email – I thought you had a good balance”. Well, I do have it, but that doesn’t mean I can’t work after 5pm. There are many misconceptions about work-life balance, and here are just a few of the ones I’ve encountered.
1. Having a good balance means not working evenings or weekend
Why is that? I love my work, and sometimes it suits my schedule to work a Saturday evening when my daughter is asleep and my wife is doing something else. No interruptions, no stress, just me following my own agenda and following my flow. Of course, if I work late every night of the week I probably have a problem – but yesterday I had a great evening with my wife, the evening before I was hanging out with a friend, and all day long this Saturday I have been playing with my daughter. So now, this Saturday late evening, there is actually nothing I would rather do than pay a visit to my exciting projects. Having the freedom to take a run in the middle of a workday, complements my flow that is inherently motivated to sometimes work late at night or during the weekends.
2. A balanced person doesn’t talk about work while on vacation.
I have some friends who are very determined about NOT talking about their work at all during their vacation time. They say that if they start talking about work then they start thinking about work, and then the whole vacation is ruined. I find that sad. They must really hate their jobs, since such an escape mindset is needed. I personally enjoy both talking and thinking about my job. Not around the clock, of course, but nothing is better to me than to lie on the beach for a whole day, and spend some of that peaceful time to figure out how to move to the next level with my current project, or how to solve a difficult problem I am facing.
3. Being balanced means you don’t care too much about your work.
This one doesn’t make any sense to me. On the contrary, I believe that if you truly care about the mission you are on, and respect yourself, then you make sure you can keep moving forward at full strength for a life time – not just a few years, and then go down with stress. The role models we interviewed for Winning Without Losing were all crazy about their jobs and their companies, however they also had other big topics on their agenda, like spending time with their loved ones, and keeping themselves healthy.
4. A good route to balance is to find a boring and secure job.
No way! That’s an illusion. A boring job will only bring you boredom, not balance. Yes, you can leave at 5 pm everyday and don’t need to think about work at all before the next morning, but this is an unfulfilling way to live. It is not work-life balance unless you have both. This means you’ll want to have a truly exciting job that challenges you, makes you grow, and matters to both you and others.
5. People with balance are a good option to seek help from.
Sometimes people get offended if I don’t answer their unsolicited email within a few days. Their rationale goes something like this: “as the balanced person you are, you must be able to find the time to answer me”. Well, that’s getting it backward. I can be balanced because I have learned the importance of protecting my own time and moving forward on my own priorities. Of course I do my best to be helpful, but it can’t be at the expense of my integrity. Stand up for your balance, or it will fade away.
Many people have a view that there’s a set collection of checkpoints you must cross in order to have a healthy work-life balance. In my experience, a set universal standard doesn’t work for everyone. The point of work-life balance isn’t only to be happy at work and at home. It’s about finding a balance within yourself as well, allowing yourself to divulge to your own flow, while growing both professionally and personally.
Want to learn how Martin debunked these misconceptions about work-life balance? Take a peek at the 66 strategies he gathered from successful and balanced entrepreneurs from around the world, and find out how you can achieve your own perfect work-life balance.
by Martin Bjergegaard & Jordan Milne
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