How’s work? There’s a question we often get asked. The typical response is something like “Fine” or “OK.” But is it really?
For many people work translates into a job—a mere means of provision to support the family. A steady income doesn’t mean a steady life. Work isn’t necessarily fulfilling or rewarding at a deeper level. It is just a paycheck on the way to the weekend where real life is lived. In today’s economy, it is easy to look around and feel lucky just to have the regular income.
A sad reflection of this reality is the current trend of companies offering work-life balance programs in the workplace. But work-life balance is a myth. These programs, regardless of how well intended they are, reveal a sad reality on both the employer and the employee side. Our lives and our work are so dangerously enmeshed that we need help separating ourselves from our work. We’re workaholics in jobs that don’t really matter to us all that much. In other words, fear of loss motivates us more than what we have to gain. Too many of us are resigned to an unhealthy settling for work-life balance as an easy compromise over developing a healthy work-life integration. Have we just given up hope?
Isn’t all this talk of work-life balance code for “my job is sucking the very life out of me, but I need it to pay the bills, so I guess I will die trying to make it work”? Fortunately, someone in HR has figured out that if we can equip you to learn work-life balance you won’t burn out or die as quickly on the job. This means you’ll keep being productive and won’t be such a drain on the company health care benefits program for a while longer.
Is it just me or is there something horribly skewed in this picture? What if life and work are true blessings where work is a high and noble expression of our calling—and a steady income? Is this possible? Can life and work be meaningfully integrated instead of separated and balanced? Tell me if I’m wrong.