Think Circle Not Balance

As metaphors go, the idea of “work-life balance” suggests we face a tradeoff for which there is no perfect answer, only the promise of stability. Being “in balance” is what we strive for, although we implicitly know that equilibrium is hard to attain and even harder to sustain. The “work-life balance” metaphor has been around for decades and has never seemed to satisfy anyone craving a better way to make life choices. 

Perhaps, it is time for a new metaphor to guide our commitments to work and life? To paraphrase explorer Yvon Chouinard, a master in the art of living, draws no sharp distinction between work and play, labor or leisure, mind and body, education and recreation. This master hardly knows which is which, leaving it to others to determine whether he is working or he is playing. To himself, he always appears to be doing both. 

Jeff Bezos calls this “work-life harmony.” The key, according to Bezos, is to make sure your work generates energy and your home life is one of happiness. When you enjoy work-life harmony, energy from work makes you better at home, and happiness at home makes you better at doing your work. 

This circle is something we can create as opposed to selecting a momentary spot on a continuum. There are no trade-offs. Instead, work-life harmony is how we engage ourselves and others and find joy and energy in everything we do.