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What the Heck is Work/Life Balance?

February 25, 2023

What the Heck is Work/Life Balance?

Have you noticed more and more negative baggage being hung off the word ‘work’?

I’ve never understood the term work/life balance myself. Is work not part of my life? Perhaps the term was coined by someone brain-dead while at the office. And I get that many people hate their work. I feel sorry for them, yet for most a change in attitude and input could alter perceptions. 

I love my work. Have from day one. But then I also loved my Saturday job filling shelves at Tesco while at school. :)) We discover more of ourselves through work, meet friends and partners either directly or through the channels that spin off activities or relationships via work. We enjoy creativity through the collegiate nature of team-work, and discover the value of purpose and contribution through work. 

Work opened a completely new world to me and 45 years later continues to do so. Am I a workaholic? Probably? Do I love not working? Absolutely, but I’ll often weave a way of creating and contributing even through leisure. Right now I’m enjoying the Vermeer exhibition in Amsterdam, and I’ll share a little of that next week in my blog. 

The anti-work campaign accelerated once lockdowns gave people Netflix on full pay. But where will it lead? Work - Leisure, Production - Consumption, we cannot endlessly consume more than we produce. But many bright influential people actually believe in Magic Money Tree economics. 

It’s certainly affecting the attitudes of the young. I work closely with career-starters that want to achieve greatness in their field yet think they can work 9-5 four days a week with an EasyJet holiday thrown in every month. At the start of their careers! I consider myself reasonably conscious to new social and cultural shifts, but some of the extreme woke nonsense is, I believe, harming the young generation as it distorts reality to serve its own agenda. Teaching them they can take more out of life than they put in isn’t helpful.

The extreme campaigns seem to be driven by a small but very vocal minority, bright and privileged and many working in the civil service (those who called for the endless lockdowns we’re still paying for) or other Government agencies, where productivity has collapsed a further 8% as opposed to 1.5% in the private sector. Perhaps there is a link to the avoidance of contribution and purpose with this active minority having taken for granted much of what most generations in history had to earn through blood, sweat and tears. 

There is always work to be done and we certainly have enough human resources but these aren’t being matched. A report out this week attempts to suggest productivity increases if people reduce their work week to 32 hours. The whole structure of this fanciful report is designed to reach a predetermined conclusion and the alleged evidence is laughable. An MP wants to make it law.

In my own experience momentum has a power itself, and when people decide to work less, slow down, they usually become less productive in that time as well. Attitudes and momentum feed the direction of travel downwards. Productivity continues to decline.

Work opens up so much to what people enjoy in life even if elements of the work aren’t enjoyed. A famous public speaker-entertainer told how he hated his work. Not the stage work, he absolutely loved that, but the other 90% that had to be done. Trudging around the country, sleeping in hotel rooms. Doesn’t every job have elements of drudgery? Almost certainly.


 Michael Van Clarke




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