The Myth of Work-Life Balance

"There is no such thing as work-life balance. There is only life." - Sadhguru

Why doesn’t work-life balance, work? Inherent in the act of balancing of two entities -- one is work and the other is life -- there is the idea of opposition. It creates a duality in our worldview. And as a result, we wander around operating with the mental construct that if we are giving something to our work, then we are taking something from our life.

Work-life balance has us teetering a seesaw, first tipping over one way and then the other. By its very design, it is something that will never be in balance. There will always be conflict and tension in this dynamic. We are likely to experience a sense of guilt wrapped up in any choice that we make, whether it is in favor of work or in favor of life.

Work is an integral part of your life. It is not something separate. The way that we work, is in fact, the way that we live… we can work from a place of joy, or resentment; we can work from a place of fear, or love; we can work from a place of obligation, or desire.

Freud is reputed to have said that there are only two things we need to be happy in life - meaningful relationships (to feel loved) and meaningful work (to have a sense of purpose).

The idea of meaningful work may seem like a high-minded ideal. Many guardians of the old world order might tell you to stop whining, keep your head down, put your nose to the grindstone and be thankful that you even have a job. Forget about a life of purpose. Forget about work that has meaning. That is the concern of the privileged few.

Okay. So you are privileged enough to have Internet. And you are privileged enough to have the leisure time to read this article. Does that mean you should feel guilty about the life you were assigned and go back to suffering silently? I don’t buy that.

It’s true that many people are struggling to meet their basic needs and their work is a means to simply survive. And many of us are also residing in the middle realm, where we are experiencing comfort without true creative freedom, where our work is a means to capture and convey social value. If you are there, maybe you have heard an inner voice telling you “there must be more to life than this,” and perhaps you are ready to elevate your experience of work to be something bigger and beyond you… you have a desire to step into self-actualization.

Sure, embarking on a journey towards an aligned, abundant life is not everyone’s concern. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that it shouldn’t be your concern.

By letting go of this outmoded concept of work-life balance, we can begin to see possibilities for work-life integration and harmony. Our life’s work becomes life working through us. It becomes an allowing, not a doing.

As we are becoming more self-aware, connecting with our intentions, and regularly making aligned choices, then we are able to plug into our purpose. We get out of our own way, so life can take the gifts of good health, education, and opportunity that we’ve been given and transform those gifts into contribution and service.