I'm not sure who coined the term work-life balance, but I don't think it is real. There is only life.
However, that doesn't mean I don't understand what people are trying to communicate with the term. It's about the pursuit of goals. In our jobs, we are typically pursuing someone else's goals; yet personally, we have our own. It makes sense that there is a higher satisfaction rate when the goals are aligned. For example, if we want to eradicate illiteracy and we teach reading in a place where literacy rates are low, then our day job aligns with our personal goals.
Most of us don't have that close of alignment between our personal goals and the goals we pursue where we make our living. In fact, most of us give the best parts of our time, energy and talent to the companies we work for and wind up pursuing our own goals in the margins. But what if that just shows a lack of creativity on our part?
Here are four ways our day jobs can help us reach personal goals:
1. Get skills. Our day jobs offer opportunities to learn things. Whether it is learning a computer program, taking continuous education classes or simply interactions with people, our day jobs create opportunities for education and it often requires extending ourselves to take advantage of that. Any time we learn something new, it improves us and many times there are opportunities to get skills that advance our personal goals as well as the professional.
2. Build a network. Our day jobs introduce us to people we wouldn't meet if we were just hanging out in our house all day. The more we invest in building a professional network, the more that helps our personal goals because people are multi-faceted. The larger your network, the better your chance that there are people in it who share your hobbies, your art, or your higher goals of making the world a better place.
3. Bring your personal passion into your workspace. There is a strong chance that there are places your art can be used to benefit your day job. If you cook, that is a simple one. Everyone loves to be blessed with delicious food. But writers, artists, musicians, counselors, creatives and others may also find places to bring their talents to play. At the very least, your personal passion shapes how you see the world and that can benefit the way you perform your job. It doesn't have to be part of your job description to introduce personal talents into the workplace. You may just have to get creative about it.
4. Make the people you work with your mission. Some of us work in places that feel like family and some of us work in places that feel like dysfunctional family. The thing to remember is that we are part of that equation. When we care about the people we work with, we impact our work place. The energy we bring to our day-to-day is part of what creates the atmosphere. We must use our powers for good.
If you find yourself frustrated about your own work-life balance, stop feeling trapped and start being creative. Chances are there are opportunities to bring about better alignment.