top of page

When Work-Life Balance is... Unbalanced

I have a bone to pick with the phrase “work-life balance.”

Maybe it’s just the language used to describe the idea, but I want to dispel the belief

that our lives can be compartmentalized into “work” and “life.” Work IS a part of our


Man working late at night in the office

I recognize the intentions behind work-life balance are good. I believe the intention is to know how to best balance your professional desires and responsibilities with your personal ones. This is good. I agree 100% that this is important for a better quality of life overall.

However, I think this attempt at “balance” has led us to a compartmentalization of the self, where we see ourselves differently in one space than the other and we fool ourselves into thinking that one area of our life doesn’t affect the other.

This often leads to internal discord, a separation from our values, and an ultimate sense of dissatisfaction in either our professional life or our personal life.

So what do we do?

First, can we re-work the phrase “work-life balance” to work-life and personal-life balance?

I think the phrase “work-life balance” is indicative of the concern I’m raising. We view our lives outside of our work as our REAL life, as opposed to being a part of our life.

Don't compartmentalize, strike a balance. In preparing to write this blog I chatted with quite a few people to get their thoughts on the idea. I noticed there is a continuum of where we tend to put more focus and energy when it comes to the personal and professional parts of our lives. Some of us see work as the sole part of our identity and some see work as “just something I have to do to put food on the table.” Something that’s purely transactional.

Instead of being on one side or the other, find a balance. Integrate your personal values into your work- you’re going to find a lot more fulfillment in what you do this way! And, don’t put so much value into your work success that any setbacks in the workplace create a big hit to your self-worth. You are more than what you do.

Create boundaries, we don’t want to be showing up at work fuming all day about the argument we had with our spouse this morning, nor do we want to be taking away time to connect with friends and family by checking work emails when we’re with them.

AND, don’t go full Severance mode with the boundaries. Acknowledge that you are upset about the argument with your spouse and come up with a plan to address it later. Don’t just shove it under the rug. Be mindful of how that emotion may impact how you show up at work that day and determine what you want to do about it. When it comes to the work emails at home, determine if it’s important to address it at that moment, or if it can wait until the next day when you are at work. Process it, and release it if possible. If not, do what you need to do, then release it.

When we lack an understanding that all of this is holistic, the disconnect between "work" and "life" we try to create causes problems. We may feel unmotivated, distracted, like a “cog” in the wheel, dissatisfied, like we don’t have control over who we are and where we’re going, you name it! Moreover, when we separate "work" and "life" we don't show up in the fullness of who we are and what we have to offer- at work, or in our personal life.

So let’s kick the idea that we have to separate ourselves into a work self and home self,

and instead find a healthy balance, not separation, of the two.


Want to more clarity on your work-life balance, values, and boundaries? Contact us here.


bottom of page