I don't have work friends and life friends, I just have friends. I don't have designated work time and play time, I just have my 24 hours to manage. I don't have a work phone and a personal phone, I just have my (precious) iPhone.
I don't have work-life balance, I have work-life blend -- and I couldn't be happier.
The cost of balancing
Our parents' generation was taught to seek out and pursue jobs that promoted work-life balance with generous vacation packages and where they could leave work at 5:00 p.m. without work in their briefcase. They drew a harsh line in the sand between their professional and personal lives, and were taught to take care to not let one bleed into the other.
The problem with this lifestyle is that if you are waiting for evenings and weekends to live your life and pursue your passions, you are missing out on tens of thousands of hours of living over the course of your lifetime.
Seeking the "blend"
I learned very early on in my career that I did not want to have the kind of job that created that harsh separation between work and life. I wanted a job where I did not have to check my passions and interests at the door and pursue them only on evenings and weekends. I wanted a job that allowed me to do what I love and be myself 24/7. I wanted a job where my personality and values were an asset, not something to hide from my colleagues.
Finding this type of work-life balance was certainly no small feat. Personally, I am passionate about women in tech, leadership, and entrepreneurship. So I set out to find community groups that were tackling these issues and offered my support as a volunteer. After months of hard work, I had established a presence in these communities, and eventually the job offers started pouring in.
Making the effort to track down opportunities that align with my passions means that I am excited and inspired by the work that I do. It means that working at night, early in the morning and here and there on weekends doesn't feel so taxing (and can actually feel quite rewarding). It also means that I have developed strong friendships with the people that I work with, since we are all passionate people who bond over our shared interests.
Beware of burnout
All that being said, this type of lifestyle certainly isn't all roses -- it can quickly lead you down the path to burnout if you don't make the effort to understand your personal and professional limits, and take care to respect them. Remember that setting limits is a good thing -- whether it's tech-free Sundays, or no email before 9:00 a.m., setting limits will help keep you healthy and energized.
Working on a cause that you believe in can also be challenging from an emotional perspective. When your work is deeply personal, rejection and conflict can sting that much more. While it's a wonderful thing to bring your passion and personality to work, remember that it is just business at the end of the day.
Choosing to seek work-life blend is a deeply personal choice. It requires you to have a clear understanding about what drives you, your work style, and your boundaries. But if you can swing it, it can be a tremendously rewarding lifestyle.
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