Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Life Balance

What's in a word?

Lots. Words define our context, our sub-text, where we have come from, and what limits, directs and channels our thinking.

I was musing on "work-life balance". On the surface, this phrase is totally accepted as meaning that we live a rounded life with work and private life healthily compartmentalised.

However, let's look at the words. Work. Life.

I had never noticed that I was dead at work, and only started living when I left the office. In fact, my work really brings me alive, so having life contrasted with its antithesis, work, really doesn't work for me at all. I love my work, and it inspires and drives me. Needless to say, I have 'issues' with the term "work-life balance".

But if we replaced the "life" bit, what would we replace it with? We could go for "work-recreation balance"; but then that is quite a clunky phrase. It doesn't trip off the tongue, nor is it so memorable, so conveying of opposites.

There is really nothing like Anglo Saxon monosyllables for being punchy and direct, so perhaps "work-home balance"? The trouble is, that sounds far too confining for today's weekend mega-shoppers.

Hmm... "work-play balance"? It might be a goer, but lots of people would find that either too frivolous or too energetic.

What about, as Sandy Miller, author of Managing Human Resources in NZ, suggested to me, how about "whole of life balance"? Or perhaps we just take Sandy's idea one little step further to "life balance". Now that makes sense to me.

Life balance. Where we seek to create a life that holds all the components we need to nourish ourselves, to fulfil our core goals, to have room to think, to work, to play, to create, to strive and to feel. Where we can gather those around us who love and support us, and have room for us to love and support them in turn. Where we can be whole people.

Life balance. It applies equally if you are retired, working, studying or raising a family. It comes without implied delineations between full and part time work, or professions and trades, in employment or self-employment.

Life balance. It also implies that we can be out of balance; that sometimes we have to take things out in order to come back to good alignment. It implies an opportunity cost for things we add to our lives. It implies we have to take a balanced approach for a balanced life.

Life balance. Now that is a fine idea with an appropriate name.

So I would like to call for change - let's remake that old chestnut anew as "life balance".

What do you think?

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