Work-life balance is an illusion. The more we strive to achieve such a "thing" the more we reinforce this illusion. Conceptualising a worldview where work and life are separate entities which somehow can be balanced pulls us away from reality and creates stress and anxiety.
Without life there is no work, without work life can exist. Life goes on all the time, work does not. Thinking of work-life balance is like thinking of yolk-egg balance.
Not equals: Life and work are not equally important substances we can put on a scale or mix in desired proportions.
No trade-off: Working less does not give us more life; neither can we get more life to somehow compensate for too much work.
Not two: Essentially a part and its whole are not two. Work partially contains life, while one works there is no life apart from work.
The key to peace lies in unity and alignment – ensuring our goals in life and at work are in sync. These goals need not be unique or very specific or in any other way SMART. As a matter of fact, as soon as we realise that goals are merely a motivational tool, it becomes self-evident that vagueness and time indefiniteness are virtues.
"Using every situation as a conscious learning tool towards personal development."
"Bringing genuine happiness to every person I interact with."
"Accomplishing all my tasks without exception to the best of my ability."
are all perfectly legitimate goals if they generate sustainable willingness.
2. Context over Content
Merely changing the mental image we hold of our occupation can radically change our sense of well-being. Transforming the underlying intentionality that we bring to work can significantly increase our sense of fulfilment and purpose. It is the attitude and mind state that we bring to work that will influence our overall success and impact on others.
Is a doctor "dealing with sick people" or "improving people's lives by promoting healing"?
Is a police-officer "fighting crime" or "acting as a guardian of peace"?
Is a banker "making money on the back of other people's work" or "enabling individuals and businesses to prosper by providing financial services"?
Once there is unity between what we hope to achieve in life and at work and we have designed a view that allows us to bring our best self to work on a daily basis, we can proceed to prioritisation. It is not possible to say "yes" to everything that comes our way. Learning to rise above the guiltiness and discomfort of saying "no" is essential. Contrary to habitual expectations, a justified refusal to get involved demonstrates self-respect and self-confidence which naturally engenders similar perception in others.
Feeling powerless or not having a choice is a common illusion. As we look honestly at the situation or at its history we discover that it is exactly the power to make choices that led to the current state.
Above all else - RESPONSIBILITY
It is all in our hands - or in our minds to be more precise. With humble honesty and insight it becomes evident that with little or no control over external circumstances, the key lies in perception. No event, person, or circumstance is inherently good or bad - it is all determined by the meaning we assign to them. Let us not outsource our power but embrace it.
Total liberation lies in transcending the limits of conceptualisation altogether and merely witnessing with equanimity and participating with undisturbed decisiveness. Existing in a totally balanced state – neither aggressive, nor passive, neither being bound by nor withdrawn from events in daily life.
This state is readily available in each instant if one chooses to merely let go and let be – to surrender positionalities and achieve unity with things just as they are.
If this seems too difficult to accomplish, a temporary substitute is to continually re-frame situations in a positive way. This is not wishful thinking or optimism. It is accepting the unshakable reality of the situation and looking deeply into it to discern the underlying meaning. Whether we realise it at the time or not, everything is in our own best interest in the long-run.
Rather than exhausting yourself from work – be enlivened by it.
Rather than feeling restricted by work – feel liberated by the opportunities it provides.
Rather than being possessive of "your free time" – be devoted to making all your time free of concerns and doubt.
Rather than having to balance work-life choose a balanced work life.