“Work-Life Balance is Bullshit”

Perhaps it’s incongruent for a yoga teacher to share a post about how “Work-Life balance is bullshit,” written by former venture capitalist and current life coach Jerry Colonna.  One could argue that my key function is to help people find work-life balance, yet, now I’m suggesting it might be a myth, like unicorns or an empty inbox?

Here’s an excerpt from Colonna’s piece, which Om Bro Reece tweeted to me last week:

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.”  F*cking 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.

If you’d like to read the rest, visit Colonna’s blog The Monster Inside Your Head.  I enjoyed his perspective on blending our “internal” and “external” lives, especially set against the backdrop of Buddhism, of which he is a student.

I would have written you a post about this myself, but, frankly, I’m too busy, so this is my attempt at balance . . .

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  • Kathryn

    I totally 100% with this. I spent a long time trying to find “balance”, as it were, between my demanding job, my kids, wanting to exercise, and cook, and see my friends, and read, and perhaps talk to my husband. And, oh, the guilt! Eventually, I had an epiphany and realized that whatever you are doing at each moment deserves 100% of your energy. It’s OK if, for a busy, exciting period at work, that 100% is mostly work. It’s OK if you feel sort of lazy on the weekends and don’t cook or do the laundry because you’re just lying on the couch reading People Magazine. (That laziness is restoration!) I think if you start feeling guilty, you have to take a look at the choices you have made and change those, and then the guilt falls away if you’re feeling authentic about what you are doing. I felt SO MUCH GUILT when I was working 60+hour weeks — guilt when I was working that I wasn’t with my family; guilt when I was with my family that I wasn’t working. It wasn’t a matter of finding “balance” – it was more that I wanted to love my job and devote myself to it, and if the job wouldn’t allow me to do that while still preserving those other “one-thirds” (I love that idea), then I should maybe serious reconsider the job. Which I did. Anyway – hurrah for this idea. Struggling for “work-life” balance does us a disfavor, I think; instead, a subtle awareness of shifts that can be made to promote an authentic relationship with each part of our lives might be more helpful.

    • Kathryn

      oops, that should say, of course, I totally 100% AGREE with this in the first line!

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