Happy New Year! I hope you enjoyed the year-end holidays with friends and family.
As you set your intentions for 2023, it’s a good time to remember to leave “finding a better work-life balance” off your list. Why?
Because, as I’ve been explaining for nearly two decades, there is no such thing as work-life balance. I’ve even written two books about the topic (links below) because I believe so strongly that the pursuit of “balance” unnecessarily keeps people stuck and unable to see the possibilities that would make their work and life better.
I had a great conversation with business writer Russ Klettke for Profile Magazine about why work life balance isn’t real. “Everyone’s work and personal realities are completely different at any given time. To infer the goal is a one-size-fits-all ‘balance,’ a fifty-fifty split between work and life, doesn’t reflect reality. This is why you hear the common lament, ‘I don’t have balance,’” I explained.
As researcher Ellen Kossek confirmed in 2007, some of us prefer separating work and life (“separators”) while others prefer integrating the two (“integrators”). Gallup recently found the same distribution in work-life preferences between what they call “blenders” and “splitters.”
Therefore, as the article notes, I advocate for and coined the term work+life fit, which is “how you fit work and life together in a way that works for you and your job, day-to-day and at moments of transition.” That one simple phrase, one simple word – work+life “fit” – has transformed how organizations and people think and talk about work and life.
The benefits are numerous when you focus on “fit” and stop trying to find that ever-elusive “balance.” But knowing how to take control of the way your work and life fit together is a modern skill set we all need to be more effective at work and happier in life.
We recently ran a series of high performance flexibility trainings for the supervisors and employees of a client we have worked with for more than a decade. This organization was an early adopter of the work+life fit approach.
One of the sessions in both supervisor and employee series focused on how to flexibly fit your work and life together within the operating guardrails your team has set together.
It was rewarding to hear the leaders who kicked off those sessions talk about how transformative the concept of work+life fit had been for them, personally, over the years.
The Profile article includes get-started guidance on how to make work+life fit part of a flexibility strategy execution that allows both the individual and the organization to thrive. And, for more work+life fit tools and support, check out my books:
— Learn how to formally reset how, when and where your work and life fit together in Work+Life: Finding the Fit That’s Right for You. One of the most gratifying experiences over the years has been the number of people who have told me, “This book changed my life. I would have quit my job if I hadn’t found it.”
— Learn how to flexibly fit your work and life together, day-to-day in Tweak It: Make What Matters Happen Every Day. It shows you how to leverage the flexibility you have to answer the question “What do I need to do, and how, when and where do I do it best?” a regular practice we need now more than ever to leverage today’s flexible work reality.
Who could have imagined when I first wrote these books how relevant and valuable they would be today?!
Meanwhile, last month, Stanford Graduate School of Business Professor Hayagreeva Rao and I joined the quarterly DEH Speaker Series, hosted by Debbie Epstein Henry and sponsored by DLA Piper. We explored Culture, Flexibility & the Future Workplace. Watch a two-minute highlight reel from our discussion and we’ll send you a link to the expanded conversation when available in the coming year.
Until next time, keep reimagining work… and life, including how YOU fit your work and life together in 2023!