There are essentially three big myths that can also be pointed out as the three big reasons why so many work-life balance attempts and interventions fail. I remember the first time I came across this topic: it was in a work psychology lecture, while I was doing my masters. I was glad to see that such concept was actually something that we were already taking care of in the workplace but I also had the feeling that there was still much to do, because even though we all dream about managing work and life successfully the truth is that the majority of us struggle to make it happen.
I was one of those people for almost my entire life. Curiously enough I think I reached a point in which I either had to change my lifestyle or I simply could not keep teaching my students about stress and work-life balance, because I felt like such an impostor and a failure myself. Moreover, I actually started thinking that it was impossible to have work-life balance, and in fact that is partially true. Work-life balance makes us think that there must be an optimal point between work and life, a point which must be universal and the same for everyone. That’s exactly when our management efforts start to make us feel worse instead of inspiring us to integrate two of the most important dimensions of our human existence.
Let me explain it in more detail: thinking there is an “ideal” that we must achieve sets us immediately for failure. There is no ideal balance between work and life, because each one of us are different and each one of us has different aspirations. We can’t simply apply a mathematical equation to calculate how much work-life balance we have or how much we are missing, especially when our own aspirations change through time and the context we are in at the moment. To make it clearer, let me give you what seems to be the three big myths behind work-life balance: