In the West, we have this “protestant work ethic” thing going on, that makes us believe that our work has to involve some kind of sacrifice. We expect to sacrifice time for money, to give up time with our families for career success, or to give up sleep and peace of mind to get a business off the ground. But does that really have to be our reality, does work have to involve giving something up?
If what we do to make a living is also what we love to do, the thing that turns a living into a life, then we have much more freedom – because we don’t have to choose between “work” and “life”, it’s all one. That’s why I talk about “work-life blend”, not “work-life balance”. The trouble with aiming for work-life balance is that it – by definition – means they are separate entities.
A typical Western employee spends about half their waking hours either at work, travelling to and from work, or getting ready to go to work. For owners of small or start-up businesses, it’s far more than that. And if work and life are different things, that means half your waking hours are disappearing on something that isn’t your life. Now, I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to only live half a life!
Does that mean I want to be a workaholic, working every hour there is? No, absolutely not – successful business-owner Ricardo Semler, author of the best-selling book “Maverick”, summed it up very well, pointing out that we have become adept at dealing with business emails on a Sunday evening, but we have not yet learned to leave the office and go to the movies with the family on a Wednesday afternoon. And it’s our willingness to allow work to become all-pervading, without being something we actually enjoy, that creates the problems that come from putting careers and businesses ahead of family – in effect, from treating our lives as having two parts that are constant conflict for our time.
When our work is also our joy, it becomes so much simpler to create a life that blends making a living with all the other aspects of who we are.