By Ryan Healy – At the office full of twentysomethings where my girlfriend, Niki, works, everyone was comparing their salaries, and the owner of the company got really angry. And his being angry made for a tough week, so Niki asked him if she could take Friday off.
He said, “If you’re going to be successful you need to start putting your career before your life.”
Of course she took the day off.
When she told her mother about the situation, her mother said, “If you don’t put your life before work you will never be happy.”
Hearing this conflicting advice from two of the most influential elders in your life is confusing. What does Niki’s boss say to his kids when he gets home? Does he tell them to put work before life? What would Niki’s mom say to young people she works with? Would she tell them to go home early?
This whole notion of needing to separate work and life implies that your career, which takes up about 75% of your day, is something you simply try to get through so you can go home and do what you really enjoy for the other 25%. What a terrible way to live.
I wholeheartedly believe that my life has a purpose. My purpose is to be successful, genuinely happy and to make a difference in this world somewhere along the way. Not a single one of these values can take a backseat to another. The balance doesn’t work, we already know this. I don’t want to choose. I want a blended life.
Occasionally I need to contact an older co-worker late at night or on a Sunday. Typically, I email the person, receive no response and the work waits until the next day’s business hours. Usually, I am hesitant to call and bother older people during their “home time.” My home time is not sacred. I have grown up being connected twenty-four hours a day, I have no problem with sending a quick work email or organizing my inbox during these supposed “off” hours.
There is no need for me to keep work life and home life separate. The majority of week nights you can find me in front of the computer chatting with a friend, watching TV and messing around with MySpace or Facebook. I may as well send out an email or finish up a work briefing at the same time. When I told my friend about this post, he said, “Work/life balance? That doesn’t even make sense.”
Think about it, he is absolutely right. I would never dream of saying I want a Family/Life balance or I want a Friend/Life balance. Is work so terrible that people don’t want to consider it a part of their lives? I sure hope not, because if that’s the case than the next fifty years of my life are going to suck!
The lines between work and life have been blurred for years. I have decided to embrace this fact and work on the best blend for my life. Whether this means working hours that fit around my schedule or being paid for results rather than the amount of hours worked, I’m not sure. I will leave that question to the management consultants and human resource experts. In the meantime my peers and I will keep searching for this blended life, while everyone else continues to run in circles failing to achieve their so-called balance.