Work Life Balance or Life Balance?

March 29, 2011

I had a very interesting discussion yesterday regarding the concept of life balance and work life balance.

There were six of us with very different opinions around these concepts and the overall theme of living a balanced life.  The discussion got me thinking, does life balance and work life balance mean the same thing?  Are they both valid terms?

Key Commonality – Living a Balanced Life

The key commonality at the core of life balance and work life balance I believe is that of achieving balance between the many facets of one’s life.

This may include but definitely not limited to work, family, friends, social, personal time, household duties, health and wellbeing etc.

This optimum state of living a balanced life is commonly related to juggling all that is important to an individual, which may of course vary at different times in our lives.  Let’s explore these terms further.

Life Balance

My interpretation of life balance is that this concept embodies all that makes up an individual’s life.

There is no emphasis or singling out of any one area, but looking at your life as a whole to achieve balance, noting that many areas make up your life and may interfere or impact on one another.  In particular, this term does not suggest that work happens in isolation to the rest of our lives.

We are of course still living when we go to work (although some people may disagree with me on that point!).

Work Life Balance

Work life balance on the other hand has a tendency to imply that life is divided into two –

1. Work

2. Everything else that makes up your life

It may be easy to make this distinction as work does form a significant part of most of our lives, which is why I imagine it’s deemed to be important enough to state.

The majority of discussions surrounding this concept of living a balanced life use the popular terminology of work life balance.

Which Terminology is Correct?  Life Balance or Work Life Balance?

I think that work life balance has a greater interest in the employment part of people’s lives that in some situations this would be the more appropriate terminology to adopt.

In another scenario it may be more relevant to use life balance should the focus be on all areas of life.

I therefore think that there is a time and place that each balancing definition could be used.

My personal interest is work life balance, as I’m focused on optimising the work environment to achieve the most there and the most in our lives outside of the work setting.  This of course is just my opinion and preference of these terms.  The correct term for you I think will depend on your own interruption of each concept and also understanding your focus as well.

I look forward to hearing others understanding and use of the terms.

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