Challenging Conventional Wisdom: Part 1

Geoff Smith Portrait

BY Geoff Smith


The Bogusness of ‘Work/Life Balance’: One Person’s Opinion

I’ve always hated this whole concept. It asserts that ‘your work’ is separate from ‘your life’. It also clearly implies that ‘life’ is good (family, leisure, pastimes) and certainly needs to be balanced off against ‘work’ (stress, toil) which is bad; that is, your life starts once you knock off work.

If that concept appeals to you – whether you are a tradesperson, an executive or a small business person – I suggest you need to start looking for another career.

We all spend a terrific amount of time at work (especially in the construction industry). It’s a huge and enjoyable part of our lives and key to our individual self identity. So, of course, are our families - but apparently that’s obvious. When you are at work, it’s crucial that you love what you are doing (mostly), who you are doing it with, and that you’re fully engaged. Precisely the same holds true when you are with your family and, ideally, everything else that you do.

(And besides, who wants to be ‘balanced’? Sounds like mediocrity to me. Here’s a suggestion: Be a maniac at work. Be a maniac away from work. You owe it to the other people spending their time with you to not be boring.)

Plus, you will live longer. Got ten short minutes? Google ‘Roseto Mystery book extract’, from Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers. It makes clear “that the values of the world we inhabit and the people we surround ourselves with have a profound effect on who we are (and how long we live)”. That applies to your career, your family, your hobbies, your community work, everything. Because there is no separation: That’s your life. (And you only get one.)