Is There Really a Work/Life Balance?

By Sharron Ragan

What is work/life balance? The phrase work/life balance was first used in the United States in 1986 by anthropologists who used a definition of happiness as having as little separation as possible between your work and your play, and feeling satisfied.

Despite the worldwide quest for work/life balance, very few have found an acceptable definition of the concept, and today most people find it impossible to figure out how to do it.

Experts suggest that this blurred boundary of work and life is due to the emergence of the information age. Most entrepreneurs and corporations use email, social media, and smartphones to enable and encourage employees to stay connected to the business even when they are not in the office. Whether you’re a manager or an entrepreneur, continuous connection causes job penetration beyond the boundaries of the traditional workday and workplace 24/7. The more blurred the boundary, the more work/life conflict occurs, which is actually a replacement for the old authoritarian control in business. Before email and smart phones, you would be in an office with your manager looking over your shoulder.

So how do you set boundaries not only at work, but with yourself, and prioritize between work and lifestyle to achieve a kind of satisfaction balance that works for you?

1. First, there is no such thing as an equal balance between work and life. The definition of balance lies within the heart of each human being’s feeling of satisfaction. Life must be fluid. What works today, and where you spend your time, may not work tomorrow; and it will vary over time as your needs change. Your constant strive for balance becomes a moving target.

2. Balance starts with you and the real purpose you are doing what you do in life, and in your business or career. There is no perfect one-size-fits-all model. Everyone has different priorities depending on the kind of career and work ethics they embody. Make a pie chart of where you spend your time and what you are achieving. Then make one of where you want to spend your time and what you desire to achieve. Explore your options then ask the question over and over, “What’s holding me back from the life I want?” Allow yourself time to think this through and listen to your inner wisdom—it will come forth if you’re ready to listen and willing to take action.

3. The framework of work/life balance is to be clear on who you are, your values, and what makes sense in your scope of a balanced life. Once you’ve embraced your clarity, it’s possible to feel deep and permanent satisfaction in your soul. Many people are unhappy in their work/life balance mostly because they don’t set boundaries and don’t know what they truly want in life.

We live in a world of rapid and continuous change that sometimes forces us to choose a life or a career we really don’t want, and for all the wrong reasons. It’s impossible to balance choices that aren’t for your highest good.

I think the work/life balance phrase must become “work/life satisfaction choices”; this rises out of having things and experiences you deem most important. Your inner wisdom prompts you to see the things and experiences that will build a better you, and this will allow you to understand the true value of achieving your divine satisfaction in work and life.

Sharron Ragan is a brand creativity consultant and intuitive change agent. She’s a former corporate brand/marketing strategist having worked with many Fortune 500 companies including Coca-Cola and Wendy’s. As CEO of Visionary Business Worldwide, she applies her creative and intuitive spirit to inspire professionals to seek a purpose-driven life and career.