Life balance is a weird idea for many, and especially those who want success or are into personal development will scratch their heads thinking about it. I just can’t imagine Bill Gates or Michael Jordan focusing on achieving life balance and still ending up where they are.
Yet, there seems to be something to this idea, as a lot of people with one-dimensional lives end up suffering from burnout or being unhappy. So, what’s the key to this riddle?
I think the whole concept of life balance is misguiding. It basically refers to splitting your time and your focus in a balanced way between o couple of major areas of you life: career, family and personal time usually. The premise is that ignoring one of these areas is dangerous and will end up making you feel miserable.
The big problem I have with this concept of life balance is that it treats these areas of life as ends in themselves. I see them as means to an end. And I see the end as… needs balance.
We humans, as evolved beings, have a couple of major needs. Here’s a way of splitting them up, of the top of my mind:
- The basic needs for food, water, shelter, and adequate climate;
- The need to be healthy and fit, psychically and mentally;
- The need for learning and personal development;
- The need for rest, relaxation and recreation;
- The need to interact socially, to connect with others;
- The need to achieve and to impact the world we live in.
The essence of a fulfilling life is in my perspective not balancing the areas of our life, but balancing taking care of these needs. And even this balance is a somewhat relative one, as the exact intensity of every one of those sets of needs will not be the same for a person.
The good news is that the world we life in offers many lifestyle options. We can create for ourselves all kinds of balanced or unbalanced combinations of activities related to career, family, hobbies, and end up achieving this relative needs balance. It’s really about fulfillment by finding those activities that allow you to make the most out of them and out of you.
Think of a person who is a book critic, and gets learning and personal development ideas by reading books, while also making money and impacting people by reviewing them. Two birds with one shot. Right now, I’m thinking of my salsa instructor whose job description involves a lot of going to salsa parties, dancing and socializing. Pretty cool, ha?
I believe you can even get needs balance without having a family, and you can get needs balance without having a job. At the same time, balancing the major life areas sometimes has a lot of chances of not creating needs balance.
This is why focusing on life balance can end up making you feel like there’s something missing in your life, and frustrated cause you don’t know why. Instead, focus on a personal needs balance rather then the development of life balance, and I think you’ll be just fine.