‘Work-life balance’ can mean different things to different people.

Don’t you think that the phrase ‘work-life balance’ has been tossed around so much that no one really knows what it’s supposed to mean?

At first, I thought that work-life balance was the most important thing in the world.

People have often told me time and time again that attaining work-life balance is a must.

But I must admit that it’s really hard to find this balance.

I have even begun to wonder: Does it even exist?

And apparently, I’m not the only one.

Read on to hear what Jeff Bezos, the Chief Executive Officer of Amazon, and Martha Stewart, one of America’s most successful media moguls, have to say about it.

What Does World’s Richest Man Think About Work-Life Balance?

Bezos is not a fan of this phrase.

According to a report, Bezos, who is the wealthiest person alive and the first person in modern history to accumulate a fortune of more than US$100 billion, believes that people should stop attempting to achieve “balance” within their professional and personal lives, since that implies a strict trade-off between the two.

Instead of viewing work and life as a balancing act, Bezos said that it’s more productive to view them as two integrated parts.

“It actually is a circle. It’s not a balance,” Bezos said, adding that the relationship between his work life and personal life is reciprocal.

“If I am happy at home, I come into the office with tremendous energy,” said Bezos. “And if I am happy at work, I come home with tremendous energy.”

Work-Life Balance Did NOT Work For Martha Stewart

Martha Stewart revealed that work-life balance didn’t work for her.

“It’s one of the most difficult things to do; that balance, which is so elusive to most of us. It didn’t work for me. I thought, ‘Oh, I can do it; I can do all of that.’ I had to sacrifice a marriage because of the lure of the great job … It’s impossible for most of us to get that balance,” she told CNN.

Ask Yourself These Questions 

Some people may argue that the concept of balance is simply dated and insufficient for today’s technology-infused world. Instead of balance, people ought to seek a more blended or harmonious existence.

Michael Walters, speaking at a TEDx event, strongly encouraged people to stop looking for balance.

At the end of the day, you cannot separate your work from your life. After all, they are all intertwined.

He reinforced his claim by asking the audience the following 2 questions:

(1) If you get a raise or you lose your job, does it affect your life?

(2) If you lose a loved one, you get into a car accident or you have a child, does it affect your work?

The answer to both of these questions is: “Of course!”

This Is What Society Thinks About Work-Life Balance

I spoke to a cross-section of the Neue (@whatsneue) community to listen to their thoughts about work-life balance. This is what they had to say:

#1. A family man’s point of view:

You’ll only fully understand why spending time with your family is important … only when you have a family of your own. I used to spend every waking moment at my office job when I was single. Ever since I had my son, who is now 5 years old, I make an effort to be present for important family events such as birthdays and reunions. If I have to, I would apply for leave from my boss.

#2. A career-focussed executive’s point of view:

My work is my life. I truly believe that “work-life balance” is grossly overrated. I think people these days are just using that phrase as a politically correct tool to excuse oneself from work. I know that I’ll be getting a lot of hate for saying that, but that is my honest opinion. Frankly speaking, I think people just need to toughen up.

#3. An overworked employee’s point of view:

I think work-life balance does not exist. If you work for an organisation that doesn’t fully embrace (or believe in) the concept of work-life balance, then it’s best you stop dreaming about it. If I didn’t need the money, I would have left my job by now.

#4. A fresh graduate’s point of view:

Work-life integration is the way forward. In this day and age, how could you possibly escape work. Don’t we all have group chats now? Work-life balance is all fluff.

#5. A human resources executive’s point of view:

We encourage managers in our organisation to come up with ways to make life better for all our employees. But the reality is not every company out there is like Google, which is known for its unparalleled employee perks and expansive Silicon Valley campus. (Further reading: Click here for further reading on why Google deserves its ‘best company culture’ award.)  At the end of the day, the biggest enemy in any organisation is burn out. It’s important to keep your employees happy and motivated.

But Isn’t It OK To Be A Workaholic?

According to a report, working long hours may not necessarily be a “bad thing” so long as you love what you’re doing.

You could argue that people who are passionate about their work would not “waste time” wishing that they had more time for life. For them, work is life.

Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, it all comes down to how you prioritise things in your life.

After all, everyone’s different.

For some, all they have is work. So why should we “look down” on workaholics? They probably have their own reasons for working hard.

But I wonder if such passion could truly ever bring them happiness.

Then there are those who truly believe that there has to be BALANCE in life.

“At the end of the day, you have to take care of your health – both physically and mentally – or you will push yourself over the edge,” said one Neue reader.

What about you?

Do you think work-life balance is important? Or is it just nonsense? Share you thoughts below.