The road to “work–life balance” is a near-guaranteed path to failure.
Hear me out.
For years now, we’ve heard endless discussions on how to make work–life balance a reality, and time and time again, we see those concepts challenged, redefined, and downright labeled an impossibility. And then you hear from the occasional person that it’s achievable. But there are so many variables, including home life, earning power, proximity to support and help, and work role and responsibilities that approaching balance in any one way will most certainly not work for everyone. What balance looks like for a 25-year-old, single and childless software engineer who walks to work in San Francisco will be drastically different from the balance of a 38-year-old single parent that has a three-hour commute every day.
With such a delta between the multiple definitions of work–life balance, is it possible for company leadership to find a way to make it mostly achievable for their entire workforce or will we be forever chasing something unattainable? One thing is for certain: the era of near-total self-sacrifice and “working yourself to death” in order to excel at work is over. Some would argue this is a uniquely American professional trait. So when leading a global team, what has worked for one part of the world most definitely doesn’t work for the rest (leading to resentment). And if we’re being honest, it wasn’t really working for Americans either. People are increasingly recognizing the importance of mental and physical well-being and healthy boundaries in the workplace. And that may have some leadership sweating.
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