Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Worklife, An Oxymoron?

I love working with people [who] challenge conventional thinking. Nowadays people throw around the notion of worklife balance as if it’s something we are all missing and desperately need. We should all have it. Then there are those that live at work and everybody tells them to go home, enjoy life, and you can see them gleam with joy when these words come out. It’s as if they sit at work and wait for people to tell them to take time off, only so they can turn it down and act like they are fulfilling some important void. The void being all the other mortals that actually go home and do other things.

I joined a casual conversation that a few of my colleagues were having about a year ago. I’ve never forgotten this conversation because what we talked about clicked with me. It was one of those…oh yeah, kind of conversations. We were discussing worklife balance when one person says—isn’t that an oxymoron. I’m like..what do you mean. She said think about it. Think about the very essence of the term—worklife balance. It then clicked. She was absolutely right. Work…Life….huh? Is work not life? Maybe we should also think about familylife balance. I would love to hear someone discussing how they are spending way too much time with family and really need to spend more time drinking beer with their buddies. Or how about sociallife balance. Wouldn’t be great to hear a college student talk about spending way too much time partying with friends and the need to spend more time with family and studying.

Why do we HAVE to think of work as separate from life. Is work that bad? For some it definitely is. But for others what would life be without work. When you are in a job that you are passionate about, that you studied hard and worked hard to achieve and are in a place where you can make a difference in the world how is that not rewarding, stimulating and worthy of a solid chunk of your time. For some work is their life and I don’t look down on that. Do any of you watch the show House? House essentially works late into the night to save lives. When he is home he is either sitting as his piano or popping pain pills. His colleagues tell him to go home or ask him if he slept at the office again with a disapproving look. But what else does the guy have to do. Why do people care? The guy gets most of his fulfillment from his job—it is his life. Instead of people saying they need worklife balance they should just say they need to spend more time with their family or want to take a vacation. Stop separating work from life. If you absolutely need to look at work as separate from life then you should really consider finding a new career.

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