Beyond Work-Life Balance

Dina Steiner, Founder and Director of Spirit at Work ATX


I don’t know when this idea of “work-life balance” began. I started seeing articles about this magical concept in the mid-90s as women began rising in the corporate world and everyone started to see the crazy juggling act that we all do just to keep the kids and dog alive, and food on the table. Women can have it all, so-called experts said, but it involves “balance” and “planning” and “compartmentalizing.”

But somewhere along the way during the past decade, opinions have begun to shift. A quick Google search yielded dozens of articles from just 2018 declaring the concept of “work-life balance” as a myth. It seems like we’ve become disillusioned with, or maybe just realistic about, all of our leaning in. Looking at some of the examples of corporate champions of work-life balance all we have to do is peek behind the curtain to see the reality – the nannies, expensive preschool and after-school programs, grocery deliveries and Prime accounts that allow the lives of mostly affluent women to appear effortlessly balanced.

Most of us realize that a perfectly “balanced” life is a fantasy for women and for men. People have suggested “integration”, “alignment” or “blend” instead. I suggest we just call it “life.”

Life is messy. Life is sometimes hectic, sometimes beautiful. But we all do our best.

Sometimes, work will require increased focus and dinner will have to be fast food. A business trip will be unavoidable and you may have to Facetime the kindergarten program. But, when a sick child or a field trip or a friends’ trip to the beach calls, workers need to put the job on hold for a little while. The world still turns. Children still thrive. Companies still make money.

There will be times that we all stress out. Then we need to employ some strategies such as breathing exercises, list making and most importantly, asking for help. Spiritual coaches in the workplace can be a vital resource when life gets crazy. And it will – for all of us. Balance or no balance!

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