By Peg Johnston • March 13, 2008•Balancing Private and Professional Life
In consulting with an "expert" about what a symposium on the issue of work-life balance should focus on, the expert's first piece of advice was that our speaker should tell people what work-life balance really is because "it is [his] experience that today's young attorneys don't really know what it is." What? Excuse me? Why don't you just go ahead and tell me what my priorities are or should be while you're at it?
[More after the jump]
Oh sure, I suppose that one way to "fix" all the whining by young associates about work-life balance issues is to define (or re-define?) it in some way so as to make the complaints and concerns go away. You could, for example, always define it as a woman-only issue, a moms-only issue, an overpaid lawyers-only issue, a wealthy-professionals-only issue -- whatever. You could always make the definition focused on the individual trying to balance their life without any mention of the professional culture. I actually don't know how this expert would define it but I do know that I don't need him to define it for me. To me, the definition of work-life balance is something like that famous supreme court justice's definition of pornography -- You know when you see it. In other words, I know that my work and my non-work life are not balanced, when I know that they aren't balanced. (I'd like to add a "Damn it!" to the end of that for emphasis.)
Basically, I define work-life balance (the verb) as the constant effort to make sure that my work and my non-work each get the amount of me that is in line with their relative importance in my life. If work gets more attention than it is worth, I'm not balanced. (For me, personally, the scales never tip the other way. However, I could imagine a scenario when they would and that would be if I wasn't working full-time -- again that's just me personally.) I define work-life balance (the noun) as my personal allocation of myself (my time, my energy, my mind, etc) to work and non-work. I truly believe that the right allocation is different for everyone.
So, here is my question for the readers/comments on this site: How do you define work-life balance?