Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Work-Life Balance Is a Misnomer

Back in the 1930s, famous economist John Maynard Keynes predicted that by the end of the century we would be working a three hour work day.  "He figured we would no longer need to work long hours to earn enough to satisfy our material needs. Instead, we would be preoccupied with “how to use freedom from pressing economic cares” that accompanied societal prosperity" (Globe & Mail, 09 2012).

So how's the working out for you?

I am a big proponent of a healthy work-life balance.  I buy into the whole idea of "working to live and not living to work."  My raison d'etre is not my career (shhh...don't tell my boss) but rather my family.  I like the idea of spending more time with the fam jamming at whatever we get up to. I don't think there's anything wrong with that even if "work-life balance" is a dirty word in the private sector.  I dig my job - I work hard at doing it well, to the best of my ability.  But to be honest, when I'm home with the family or out doing something, I'm not lamenting the fact that I'm not working.  I don't think I'm unique in that respect.

Though I support the essence of work-life balance, I consider to be a misnomer.  The idea that work is separate from our life is a misconception.  It's all life.  Here's what I don't like about using that term, it gives the impression that the two things are distinct entities that have little effect on each other.  Do you realize that you will probably spend the majority of your prime living years working?  A large portion of your life is spent at work.  It's not like you can take the portion of time used for work and add more years to your life because it was just work and didn't really count as living.  But it does don't get that time back, ever!

That's why we better make sure that what we do for a living is meaningful to us.  If I'm going to trade so much life - so much time that could be spent with family - I want to make sure it's worth it.  I want the return on my investment to make a difference and have a purpose beyond paying my bills.  We better believe in what we're doing because we are giving up an awful lot to be able to do it.

It's funny - I think where Keynes miscalculated was in our greed and lust for more than what we need.  As our ability to make more money increases, so do our material "needs."  Our material needs cannot be satisfied so we work more and more and more. 

I guess what I'm getting at in this rant is this - time does not equal money.  Time is are you spending yours?  Are you getting your desired return on investment?

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