Work-Life Balance is Bullshit

I spat out the words with an anger that surprised me: “Work-Life balance is bullshit.”

Ann Mehl and I were on a call with a reporter looking into doing a piece about the workshop we’re doing in a few weeks. I’d connected the two of them in a conference call while I was at LaGuardia, waiting to board a flight to Denver, for a board meeting in Boulder. The morning had been rushed. Lately, it feels, like everything is rushed.

“I’m scared,” I’d told my Buddhist teacher on Monday. “I find myself doing more and more…the calls and inquires for coaching are so much more than I can handle.” He smiled in that way that says, “I’m not going to say anything. You have to keep going.”

“I’m afraid I’ll lose myself…again. I’ll find myself overweight, sickly, disconnected from my body, my family, and back at the point where the subway tracks seem like the right answer.”

“It is different now,” he said. I waited for more and then realized I wasn’t getting any more.

The workshop sold out (as Charlie Crystle predicted). There’s talk of doing a second iteration. A new friend reached out, saying, “Bring it to Berlin.”

I’m trying to meet the need so evident in the market by working with teams, doing workshops, encouraging others to work with folks like Ann, or even thinking about ways I might help folks help each other.

It’s different now, said my teacher, because right livelihood. What I’m working towards now is less about my own ego aggrandizement (although that temptation is always there) and more about helping.

And I think again of the guy who sat on my couch on Tuesday. By all accounts, successful, his little company not only survived the recession (having been launched at the start of the collapse) but pivoted and grew. Today, with less than $2 million in capital raised, they are projecting $5 million to $6 million in revenue. And they’re profitable. And this guy spent much of his session in tears. I was relieved to see those tears because I don’t know what would have happened if he’d continued to walk around with no one to talk to, no place to put the stress.

The concept of work-life balance is bullshit. First, it presumes that work is in opposition to life. And the fact is that work is a fundamental part of life; who we are and what we do merge–sometimes with good results and sometimes with bad.

Second, the concept sets us up for terrible guilt. When I’m at my kids’ concert, I feel guilty that I’m not answering email. When I’m at my desk, I feel guilty that I’m not watching So You Think You Can Dance with my kid. You can’t win.

I like the word balance in the concept, though.  My teacher finally spoke: “One third, one third, one third.” Fucking koans.

He let me off the hook then, explaining, “One third of your time for the external you. One third of your time for the internal you. And one third of your time for the Other.”

One third taking care of business. One third taking care of the subtle and gross bodies–the inner you and the physical you. And one third for family, friends, community, the world at large.

Now that’s a balance that makes sense.

This morning, as I lay awake in my wonderfully cheap motel room in Boulder (shout out to my friends in Boulder–it’s amazing to wake to watch the sunrise reflected against the Flatirons), I realized that even that concept of balance falls short if it’s not twinned with the notion of presence.

In our vain effort to assuage the guilt of not being at the other end of work-life seesaw (regardless of which end we find ourselves on), we end up neither here nor there. Remember running back and forth on the seesaw trying to stand legs apart in the center, one foot in each world, getting both ends to balance? I remember the nasty bump I got in that vain effort.

The real gift is learning to be present in whatever third you’re living. So when you’re working, work. And when you’re loving, love. And when you’re eating, eat. As the wise old Ram Dass said: Be Here Now.

That is the only way out of conundrum, the bullshit of work-life balance.

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  • http://MeetInnovators.com Adrian Bye

    lol good post

    • jerrycolonna

      Thanks Adrian. Glad I made you laugh.

  • http://www.5o9inc.com/ Peter Cranstone

    In other words – live in the moment and then there is no need for balance, because it is just a moment in time.

    I'm just down the road from Boulder (south of Denver) if you have time and want to meet or chat via phone ping me back.

    • jerrycolonna

      Exactly. I'd love to connect Peter but I'll have to take a rain check until my next visit. Too booked now.

      • http://www.5o9inc.com/ Peter Cranstone

        See you next time.

  • http://terezan.tumblr.com/ Tereza

    Well if perfect daily 1/3-1/3-1/3 balance were the metric then I've been failing for years.

    I'm also cognizant that if I didn't have a husband and kids, given my nature, I'd be skipping and pirouetting into the fire with a big grin on my face.

    You're right Jerry some days it seems there's nothing worth doing that doesn't involve tradeoffs, and what sometimes seem overwhelming opportunity costs (ok, most days).

    But I also think there's an opportunity that the BS notion of balance distracts from. It's the rigid idea that our 'thirds' are silo'd and separate. Should they be? Is that productive?

    The best businesswomen I know grew up in family businesses. And think about the family farm. The silo concept was a post-WW II phenomenon and I believe not the natural state of being.

    So things like working at home on some days. And having your kid time you and judge you while you're practicing a pitch and having them alphabetized files.

    Integrating our silos is a big piece of what's going to make our lives livable. I for one would like to see the ecosystem engaging in sharing of all the millions of tips and tricks, and also to just be friendlier about that integration.

    But maybe that's just me.

    • http://ikeif.net keif

      You said it better than I could – this whole divided being is somewhat of a new concept. “Work-life balance” isn't bullshit, people just aren't looking at it from the right angle.

      You want to be a career focused, family focused, health focused individual. This is akin to saying “I want to be an expert at everything” – you can't. Plan accordingly. Put the focus were it needs to be and decide what's more important.

      • http://terezan.tumblr.com/ Tereza

        I appreciate that. The problem with 'balance' is that it's binary. You're either succeeding (rarely) or failing (likely).

        If I were a life-game designer I'd say, that's a shitty, discouragingly designed game!

        I think the goal should be 'Integrated'. So if you do a little integration, that's great. And if you do more of it, then you and all parts of your life get more.

        For example exercise not on a treadmill in solitude but on a walk with our kids in the woods while talking about what they're doing in school and you share what you're doing at work. We need to have and share a million of those ideas.

        I say this, mind you, with no platitudes. I spent all of Easter weekend and all the next weekend on work, and cancelled stuff on my kids because of an investor meeting where I absolutely did not feel comfortable saying 'that day doesn't work for me, could we try another?'.

        We are very far from where we need to be and I think when the interplay between startups and investors is involved there's very little middle ground.

        Would love for someone to swoop in an establish an alternative set of ecosystem norms that doesn't equate “I have something planned with my kid/husband” with “I'm a pussy and not committed to this business”. Shouldn't have to be binary.

        • jerrycolonna

          I suspect it's not just you.

        • http://ikeif.net keif

          I keep my demands of my job very clearly defined. Occasionally – my job asks (or *needs*) me to conflict with plans. My last job at an Agency was very much like this, to the point that my career was overwhelming my personal life. I left that job for something more manageable. Now – when I say “I need to do something for my kids” it happens.

          Perhaps it's the difference in perspective as well – I'm a divorced father of two, and my kids will always – *always* – come before work. If they came to me and said “choose” work would always lose out.

          Of course, people can argue “money, career, success, fame” – but what I care about is in my home. If I were unemployed tomorrow I would have no qualms moving in with close family until I got back on my feet.

  • ntreuter

    How about figuring out how to integrate life & work vs. segregate. And note to employers: If you expect your employees to take their work home with them, also expect them to take their home into their work!

    • jerrycolonna

      Bingo. Integration is the key. And I love your “if/then” scenario.

      • http://twitter.com/jrkierce Joaquín R. Kierce

        Great minds think alike.
        Hugh MacLeod (gapingvoid.com…) would call this “the integration of work and love”.
        Happy to follow and learnd from you both.
        This would also explain why he drew your “logo” :-)

        • Folwart

          That saying is useless. Ignorant minds think alike. Stupid minds think alike. Evil minds think alike. Good minds think alike. Yet they can all think differently as well.

  • http://www.charliecrystle.com Charlie Crystle

    man you're good. and i wonder if your own increasing stress actually helps you with your clients; for a period it's likely.

    Was up early yesterday, coded a bit. then school board calls ahead of the evenings budget hearing. afterrnoon at the high schools. run the dogs, scramble for a shower and off to 5 hrs of i furiating board time.

    home at 11. cant sleep. cant code. fire off a righteous email. pace. sleep by 3, up at 6. train at 9 to the city, meetngs, investors, frienfs in the eve. mote coding, maybe.

    unprepared for friday pitches. if i dont sleep, i'll suck. if i sleep, i wont be prepped, and won't be able to anyway.

    in the middle of blowing it, we still find our ways, and maybe next month we'll have learned the meanings of capacity and commitment.

    • jerrycolonna

      Nah…I don't think my increasing stress is “good” for my clients. But it's a call for me to re-commit to what I know is the right way for me to be. And in that, it's a gift.

      • charliecrystle

        This post is an example of what I meant

        • jerrycolonna

          Ah, thanks for that.

  • http://www.repeatablesale.com/ Scott Barnett

    interesting concept of breaking life into thirds… but does it address the “other” problem, which is that each cup is overflowing? I certainly work hard to be present in the “now”, but how do you fit all the things you want to do into each compartment? My friends joke that with me, it isn't “the person who dies with the most toys wins”, but rather “the person who dies doing the most stuff in his life before passing out from exhaustion wins” :-)

    • jerrycolonna

      I suppose part of the answer is learning to say no to your own self.

  • http://www.twitter.com/stevenkane Steven Kane

    A thousand pardons, Master, but wouldn't a “fucking koan” be…

    “One third, one third, one third, one third.”

    • jerrycolonna

      veeerry good.
      :-)

  • http://profiles.google.com/bryanjwilson Bryan Wilson

    The key to the thirds-balance is genuinely to like the “you” in each of those circumstances. I think the problem for many of us (myself certainly included) is that when faced with a 9-5 (or whatever your third is) that you're ill-suited for, are bored by, or just generally dislike, you start to dislike, unfortunately, that part of you. It follows, in my mind at least, that you should seek out the “right” here before focusing on “being there” (intentional film reference!) now. But maybe those aren't as mutually exclusive concepts as I'm making them out to be. Anyway, great post – thanks!

    • jerrycolonna

      That's a really helpful framing, Bryan. Thank you. Yes. connecting back to YOU is key…which is why that one third around your own interior world is so key.

  • http://www.sethlieberman.com Seth Lieberman

    I read this book to my son (The Three Questions which is based on a Tolstoy story) http://goo.gl/sEP9g, I probably should read it to myself as well.

    Amazon.com Review
    Nikolai is a boy who believes that if he can find the answers to his three questions, he will always know how to be a good person. His friends–a heron, a monkey, and a dog–try to help, but to no avail, so he asks Leo, the wise old turtle. “When is the best time to do things? Who is the most important one? What is the right thing to do?” Leo doesn't answer directly, but by the end of Nikolai's visit, the boy has discovered the answers himself.

    • jerrycolonna

      What a gift to give your son!

    • http://terezan.tumblr.com/ Tereza

      We have that one, it's terrific.

  • A.J. Lawrence

    Jerry, thank you for being my dance instructor. I just walked 30 blocks thinking about the fire and when I finally stop to have a pint, here's your post. You just took my heartrate down 30 bpm. Your teacher may leave you in silence but as I am just learning sometimes a kind silence brings the best growth.

    • jerrycolonna

      My pleasure AJ. Thanks for dancing with me.

  • http://www.crashutah.com/ John

    Enlightening post as usual. I read it to my wife so she could help me gauge how I'm doing. Although, I can't say a part of me wasn't also interested in having her hear how the rest of startup world has a more work than life balance so she can appreciate the choices I make.

    While I still occasionally battle to be present in each moment of life, I think some people have a really great gift to be able to do just that. I feel lucky to have that gift.

    • jerrycolonna

      Thanks John. I'm touched by the image of you reading the post to your wife and I appreciate your candor with about your secondary motivation. That tells me that you've got a pretty darn good connection to that interior landscape. Another gift.

  • Jake

    Something that has helped me here is the phrase “Being is as important as Doing”. We often put too much value on Doing.
    And yes, balance is key too. We can’t conceptualize balance as a scale that has only two buckets, in your example the scale has 3 buckets which is a great concept.
    I look at the scale as having as many buckets as the universe decides to give us at any point in time. We have to get good at balancing them all. If you ever feel there are too many buckets or they are too full then we have to remind ourselves that it is impossible to fill the buckets too full. How can someone say “I’ve spent too much time living.”?
    Spend more time Being, it will help you sort out the Doing in a calm, rational way.

    • jerrycolonna

      Really well said…the antidote to Doing is Being.

  • http://www.facebook.com/alecosentino Alejandro Cosentino

    When you enjoy so much what you do, the balance life-work is less relevant but you always have another one-third of your life to take care (and usually are The Others). Then prioritization is the key.

    • jerrycolonna

      I think enjoyment's a useful metric…it's often a simple and very often over-looked metric…do I like what I'm doing?

  • http://www.thebigbags.com/ Bags

    I need to find something to help me invest in the “Other” category. I don't have a family. I just moved to a new city where virtually everyone is a stranger to me. I'm obsessed with my job, and I need to find something worthwhile (other than unpacking my bags) to invest my energies in.

    This move has not been easy. Part of the reason I did it was so I could put a greater focus on “fixing” myself. This post has given me a bit more perspective on how/where to start.

    Thanks for writing this. As always, I needed to hear it.

    Your posts always tend to be so well-timed.

    • Jake

      You can't fix what isn't broken @BigBags:disqus . You're experiencing being a human, you aren't broken and even though it doesn't feel like it, your challenges are not unique.

      One place you can probably focus for the next few months is putting less emphasis on Doing and more emphasis on Being. Being does not equal laziness, look at the most content people and animals, you'll observe that they're OK with doing nothing – you can be too with a lot of practice and patience.

      Observe people that do things you want to do and then make a point to hang out with them. We tend to do the things other people we hang out with do. Want a healthy lifestyle? Hang out with healthy people!

      One person's boredom is another person's contentment. If that makes sense to you then you probably understand what I'm trying to say.

      • http://www.thebigbags.com/ Bags

        Thanks Jake,

        I needed to hear that. I've had “Do, do, do” pounded in my head so much lately through the books I'm reading, the projects I'm working on, and the people I associate with. I take great pride in my work, but I also need to take great pride in my play, and my state of mind.

        That will be my focus over the next few weeks.

      • jerrycolonna

        Beautifully said.

    • jerrycolonna

      I use my super-human powers to look out across the land and see exactly who needs to hear what before I post. That's why I go so long between posts (and take that @fredwilson:twitter who complains that I'm not really “blogging” if I write so infrequently).

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  • Petit Sourice

    Dude:  “When I’m at my kids’ concert, I feel guilty that I’m not answering email.” Two words: you.

    Yea, you didn’t read that right.  Lets mix the letters up in a random display and let you figure it out: ofuukcy.  There. Use that as your next password.

    Its BECAUSE of that EXACT mentality you just posted that those of us who DO NOT feel guilty answering emails are EXPECTED to answer emails by the rest of the damn workforce.

    Good job — you’re a real help.

    • Anonymous

      Excuse me. I’m want to be sure I understand what you’re saying…are you saying that, because someone might feel guilty answering emails while attending their kids’ concert, that they are creating more work for you?

      If so, let me clarify two things…first, the point of the piece is that someone should NOT feel guilty when they are working (nor should they feel guilty when they are NOT working). Most seem to have understood that point.

      Second, the point was also to explore the ways in which many of us receive difficult and mixed messages–especially as it relates to balance. If you don’t receive such difficult and mixed messages, then I’m happy for you.

      More important though, regardless of how angry I may have made you, please show me, and those who are commenting on this blog, respect and refrain from veiled angry expletives.

      Thanks.

  • http://twitter.com/SergeyNazarov Sergey

    Jerry,

    Thanks for posting this, a very interesting take. I am looking forward to being in New York at the same time as your work shop at GA. 

    I understand what your saying and I feel that I can best understand it through Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs. 

    New theories in that school contend that people do not stop at any one level of the hierarchy and that once they cannot fulfill the needs of one tier they focus all of that unfulfilled energy on another tier. This is what I am assuming might have happened with the fellow who cried in your office. He found himself unfulfilled in one tier of Maslow’s hierarchy and so plowed that energy into the tier which encompasses the achievement of monetary success.

    What I mean to say with this in mind is that; this effect has a positive side to it that may not be pleasant but may be very effective and possibly necessary in achieving one’s goals. 

    I for example have found myself (as have many of the folks that work 14 hour days) to be most effective when my entire focus is on one pursuit. It certainly wreaks havoc on the other two thirds of my life, but this may just be the price of success. I have read of and met successful people that pay this price daily, but they do it by choice, knowing that the alternative does not fit their ego or priorities. Do you believe they simply have the wrong priorities?

    Your case clearly has merit in terms of making a more enjoyable lifestyle while working, but what if a person aims towards achieving something that doesn’t allow that lifestyle? 

    Thanks for taking the time to look over this note.

    Wishing you all the best,
    Sergey

    • Anonymous

      Hey Sergey…thanks so much for your thoughtful contribution. It showed such care and concern; I really appreciate it.

      Actually I think you and I are in agreement. I think there’s tremendous value in devoting yourself to the task at hand…see my comment about when you work. work and when you play, you should play.

      As I said in a recent video interview with TechBerlin…I’ve nothing against hard work. I think it’s an incredibly rewarding way to create meaning and fulfillment in your lives. What I worry about are the motivations behind those 14 hour days…are you working them out of am  misguided sense of fear or a misplaced sense of obligation?

      Or is it love? I think that love of the exquisite nature of work and what we create with our minds, our hands, can be deeply self-actualizing. But it’s important to be aware, to be conscious, to be awake to the choices that we make when we make them.

      • Anonymous

        Jerry,

        Thank you for your prompt reply. 

        Your questions are very insightful and have given me pause to think about something important, thank you. 

        14 hour periods of work are in my opinion driven by goals and what people are willing to trade for the achievement of those goals.

        I would say that much of my own goals are driven by two underlying impulses.

        Firstly, my self-image and the vanity that goes with it. My personal opinion being that vanity is the basis of modern man’s ambition and is commonly a necessary part of their success.

        To qualify; “Most people dislike vanity in others, whatever share they have of it themselves; but I give it fair quarter wherever I meet with it, being persuaded that it is often productive of good to the possessor, and to others that are within his sphere of action; and therefore, in many cases, it would not be altogether absurd if a man were to thank God for his vanity among the other comforts of life” ~ Benjamin Franklin 

        The second and possibly greater force stems from my belief in an ethical obligation that I have to two groups. 

        The first group being those people that I have made explicit promises to. These promises commonly taking the form of specific outcomes that are largely achieved through 14 hour work days. There is a certain element of path dependence here which could be considered a misguided obligation, though such a realization would not change the facts surrounding those explicit promises. 

        The second group is made up of the society at large. The specific obligation I have to this group is not completely clear, but the general sentiment surrounding it is clear. 

        To more directly answer your question: I do not feel that it is love, though I do find what I am working on now to be fulfilling. It is more than anything a set of obligations to myself and others, which may or may not be misguided.

        At this point it seems to me that this becomes a question of what are the “right” goals, priorities. and obligations. 

        The questions you have asked me earlier clearly come from a very intelligent philosophical perspective. I would be thrilled to hear what authors you could recommend to better understand the theories that informed these questions. I also strongly agree that “it’s important to be aware, to be conscious, to be awake to the choices that we make when we make them.”

        Thanks again for your earlier response and for taking the time to consider this additional note. 

        Wishing you all the best,
        Sergey

        • Anonymous

          Glad you enjoyed the questions Sergey. You might find Michael Carroll’s “Awake at Work” an interesting read.

      • Emily Merkle

         well said.

  • Ajene W.

    This is good piece Jerry.   Spoke to me.

     

    I have always found it difficult to make the separation
    and/or the integration Nick suggests — with the one exception being whenever I am
    with my dear love.   Spending time with
    her, unlike with anyone else in my life ever (since the day we met), has always seemed to inherently
    call for me to leave work behind.   Yet
    still, as I strive to provide the best life for my future family, I sometimes cannot
    help but wonder if I’m doing her, my family and myself a disservice by either
    (a) not partially tending to my work when I’m with her (to which miserable attempts
    are made), or, (b) simply making a deeper social sacrifice and work much more now
    so that I may spend more loving time later.   This is a Big
    Question for me Jerry.   I hanker for the
    apex of my career but in no way wish to loose my love to the fire; but as top professionals, we play
    the game to win championships right?   There
    is no replacement for winning… right?

     

    I tell you this though Jerry, what I will take away from
    this piece is, always “Be Here Now,” present in the moment of what I am doing –
    whatever it is that may be.   This bit
    alone may greatly enhance the quality of my life overall. 

    • Anonymous

      Glad it spoke to you. That means a lot to me.
      I don’t think one should ever lose those ambitious, striving goals. They are very important and provide enormous meaning. But can you find a balance point between those and the Be Here Now challenge? That’s the tough part…

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  • http://twitter.com/patti_exhale Patti Murphy

    I hear you. I saw a link to your blog here: http://freshbysian.com/2012/08/i-call-bullshit-on-worklife-balance/ and I heartily agree.

    The guilt is so hard to let go of. Maybe I could try the one-third thing. Getting mired in the mental bullshit is what gets in the way.

    • jerrycolonna

      Thanks Patti. The One-Third rule helps me a lot. Recently I gave a talk to a bunch of entrepreneurs and my 15-year old son was in the audience. He told the group that I really live by the one-third rule and that he loves it.
      That made my year.

      • http://twitter.com/friedmank Kevin Friedman

         Awwww… what a moment! I love it. Who could ask for anything better? :-)

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=81503972 Arthur Radke

    Best ending girl!

    “The real gift is learning to be present in whatever third you’re living. So when you’re working, work. And when you’re loving, love. And when you’re eating, eat. As the wise old Ram Dasssaid: Be Here Now.”

    • jerrycolonna

      Who’s a girl??

  • http://twitter.com/clareyt Clare

    Beautiful post, completely agree, found this via Rand’s blog. . I’m from Boulder – what hotel were you in that you could see the Flatirons? Quality Inn? 

    To take it a step further, I get enraged by the “women can’t have it all” bullshit. It implies that marriage + babies + successful career = it all. Why can’t “it all” just be a successful career and maybe a small social life? Or, in contrast, just babies and no career? We need to start calling it, “having a life.” 

    • jerrycolonna

      I think it was the Courtyard by Marriott by 28th but I don’t recall. (BTW, I ended up buying a place in Boulder. It’s on the bluff–above Bluff Street–where I can watch the sun dance on the Flatirons to my heart’s content).

      Thanks for the kind words about the post…I loved Rand’s post and was touched that he shared what he did.

      I think you’re right to be enraged. Not only do we need to call “it” “having a life,” (or even just “living”) but we need to allow each other the space to figure out what “it” is for ourselves. Perhaps even allowing that the “it” may evolve as we grow up.

  • http://www.myrkothum.com/ Myrko Thum

    But Jerry, isn’t the Buddhist teachers reply “One third..” the same approach that defines work-life balance: Dividing up your time? When the original problem comes from simply too much work, and too much personal involvement and time spend in your work, compared to time with others and in private? This brings it down again to a time-management problem, and especially to a strategic problem of taking on too much, compared to what is good for you. 

    For me personally this is an answer: think about and try to manage your time way ahead, which means to say “no”, and only saying yes to the top 10% important commitments. I know that this is a theoretical concept. In reality, there are always demands where you can’t say no without serious consequence. But this is the time when you need to stand back and evaluate the whole, in my opinion.

    I see the guilt dissolving by your final solution: presence. You only feel guilt if your mind is not in the present moment, but somewhere where it should not be.

    • jerrycolonna

      Hey Myrko…yes and no. To me, my teacher’s response was really a statement about integration more than “balance.” Balance implies opposites: two opposing weights on either side of a scale.
      That view–life is in opposition to work–creates a guilt-based conundrum–”I should be doing something other than what I am doing”–from which there is no escape.  Staying present, as you point out, is a beautiful antidote.

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  • jUst mE

    It just makes sense.

  • http://twitter.com/dohertyjf John Doherty

    Jerry - 
    I know this is an old post, but it resonated with me again today. I remember being in Switzerland at a commune where I was living because I needed a break from everything. I was sitting in my mentor’s office and said:

    “When I’m hanging out at the bar, I feel bad because I’m not hanging out back at the chalet with people. And when I’m back at the chalet, I feel bad that I’m not at the bar with others.”

    His reply?

    “Man, sometimes you just have to live.”

    That’s stuck with me to this day. Sometimes, you just have to live.

    • jerrycolonna

      Hey John…. I love this story. This guy was a Zen Master. And totally right.

      • http://twitter.com/dohertyjf John Doherty

        He sure was. He’d call himself a theologian, you call him a zen master, I call him a very wise man and my mentor. All work!

  • K.W.

    I think some may think of balance as a noun and not as a verb. As a verb, it does not necessarily mean two opposing objects, but more of just an act. I also think it may be taken to literal. When I think of balance, I say it’s whatever that is going to make you happy and keep you “level” in a sense. For some that relies on morals and values. No one said it had to be 50/50. If you believe you should give your job 40 and your family 60, and you’re doing that, you are in balance.I know some will argue that 50/50 is the only “balance”. Again, to literal in my opinion. Think of some yoga or even ballet poses, you are not obtaining a perfect 50/50 balance, but one of which makes sense. This is how I view balance.

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  • Nataly

    Loved this perspective, thank you. As a mom and entrepreneur, I used to go absolutely nuts with the guilt you describe – guilty for not doing enough work or being with my team while at kiddo’s piano recital, then guilty to not be with kiddo enough while traveling for work or staying for late meetings.

    It got better when I stopped obsessing about keeping work and life so separate – less guilt when I have to answer an email from home, less guilt when kiddo has to come into the office with me during a national holiday. (Turns out, she digs it!)

    It’s still a struggle – not sure that ever goes away – but not chasing some ideal state of work/life balance (because it just doesn’t exist) has made it a lot easier to do better at both.

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