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Why work life balance doesn’t exist

I do wish that we’d accept the fact that this elusive nirvana, so called ‘work-life balance’ doesn’t exist. Do you know anyone who has achieved it?

There’s a fundamental flaw in the idea of work life balance.  The idea is built on the view that you have to make time for ‘life’ that is separate from ‘work’ and that when you get the balance right, harmony reigns.

But anyone who is trying to do their best, striving for professional perfection at work and being the supportive spouse, partner, parent or carer at home knows that the reality of life for many of us is very different.

The reality is that most of us are simply juggling and hoping that we don’t drop the ball every day.  A good day is one where you manage to avert disaster.  I might be happy, but I certainly don’t feel a sense of harmony and balance most days!

However, it’s not all bad news.  The truth is that the more control that you have over your working life, the greater your chances of enjoying life full stop.  If you are leaving work every day feeling undervalued or that you never seem to be able to do enough to make your employer happy, then the answer may well be to dictate your own terms.

The best thing about having an independent career isn’t just that you get to choose your hours, but that you get to make every moment count. We independents are usually trading time for money.  That means that we are acutely aware of the value of that time, and how or who we spend it with.  Once you start to look at the world through this lens, it makes it very difficult to understand why anyone would want to give up their time pursuing someone else’s agenda and schedule.

I can’t promise you that you won’t be working into the night, and I can’t promise you that if you do that you will be rich enough to have people that you can delegate to.  I can promise you that if you decide how you want to run your life and how you earn money to support that you will, at least, be creating something of the kind of life that you want.

And that’s the kind of balance you’ll be happy with.

Who is Alex Butler

Hello, I'm Alex Butler and I founded the KindredHQ community and blog back in 2011 after I re-started a freelance career. I LOVE freelancing and I wouldn't swop the freedom, control and joy of working for myself for anything. But I realised how much I missed the company and energy of other people - of having a team around me. So, I got a few people together one day with our laptops, a jar of coffee and some jelly babies and we sat and worked together one afternoon. We've been doing that every week in London, UK since then! I am still 100% freelance and I like to share the everyday highs and lows of being a freelancer here on the blog.

  • Alec

    Hi Alex. As always a great article. I think work/life balance also means different thinks to different people and for each of those same people the balance changes over time according to their stage in life as well as priorities. Now if only there was a magic formula that would allow everyone to take back that control you mentioned.

    • kindredhq

      Thanks Alec. Ah yes, that magic formula. I’m working on that. 😉

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