5 Common Myths About Work-Life Balance

In a culture where "work-life balance" is a major buzz phrase, it's easy to get caught up in popular misconceptions. Work-life balance, after all, can often seem like a fantasy realm you can only gain access to with a super-secret password. Top it off with more than 1 million Instagram posts tagged with #worklifebalance, and you've got myths and illusions galore.

Luckily, executive coach and author of "Your Work, Your LifeYour Way: 7 Keys to Work-Life Balance" Julie Cohen, P.C.C., is here to help you wade through the sea of misunderstandings. Cohen, who has more than 20 years of experience, helps clients enhance their work-life balance through realistic and attainable methods. Here's what we discovered about common myths surrounding work-life balance:

Myth #1: It looks the same every day.

Many people become preoccupied by the glossiness of the term "balance," thinking work and life should be executed in the same manner every day—but this is false.

"Life and work are busy, messy and interesting," notes Cohen. "Assuming anything will look the same every day will lead to frustration and [overworking] to accomplish something that is not attainable."

The key is to approach each day with flexibility. When you welcome daily adjustments, you'll empower yourself to respond to the day's unique tasks.

Myth #2: Your professional and personal lives can't overlap.

Another misconception is that work-life balance puts work and life in separate boxes. True or false?

This is actually a trick question; the reality is that it varies from person to person. "Some people prefer delineated boundaries between their professional and personal lives, [while] others want work and life to be fully integrated," says Cohen. "Most of us are somewhere in between."

The main takeaway? There are multiple ways to practice work-life balance. So, instead of focusing on the literal act of compartmentalization, start by defining what your ideal relationship with work looks like. From there, you can develop the appropriate boundaries and boxes for your needs.

Myth #3: It's a one-time achievement.  

Like weight loss and self-esteem, work-life balance is often perceived as a single destination with a sparkly "finish line." In reality, it's the exact opposite. "Work-life balance is a lifelong journey," explains Cohen. "You never get to a place that is 'work-life balance' and finish, because you are likely living a full, interesting [and] complicated life."

Life is an ever-changing experience full of new and exciting opportunities. If you want to keep your wheels on the road, you'll need to constantly shift gears. This includes regularly assessing—and changing—how you approach all areas of life.

Myth #4: You can't work long hours.

False. As mentioned earlier, welcoming the fluid nature of each day is vital for honing work-life balance. And sometimes, this might mean hustling and working overtime to complete a certain task.

The key is recognizing there is a time and a place for this type of work flow. "In the short term, [hustling] might be beneficial and needed for specific projects," Cohen shares. "But that pace and intensity [likely won't be] sustainable. Knowing how to manage your energy, attention and focus over the long-term [is what] will allow you to have a productive career."

Myth #5: Self-care is an optional part of work-life balance.

Since self-care involves putting oneself first, it can feel like it can dampen the work-life flow. But the truth is that work-life balance can't thrive without focusing on you, your mental health and your happiness on a regular basis.

In fact, according to Cohen, learning how to practice self-care is exactly what will fuel a long and sustainable career. "Self-care is about making choices that refresh and re-energize you," she says. "You and your energy are the most important resources for effectiveness."

As you navigate the waters of work-life balance, be mindful of what others say it "should" look like. Carefully evaluate these concepts before applying them to yourself. By approaching each one with a realistic mindset, you'll be more likely to stay afloat in the waves of life.
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Member Comments

Good food for thought, SparkFriends Report
interesting Report
For sure, self-care has to be on the radar when balancing home and work life! Otherwise, you don't have the energy to give to either area of your life!

interesting read-- Thank yu! Report
Thanks for the information. Report
Great points! Report
Nice article. I agree with everything you wrote. Thanks. Report
Thank you for sharing. Report
Flashback 43 years: 2nd son in preschool and I return to work. Very soon I was on an intense project. Working in an airconditioned space when the temperatures and humidity were high felt wonderful. I had good lunches and lots of freedom. I started work about 8 AM Monday, worked until I was tired. (I know I must have had a dinner) and went home about 9 or 10.PM. I came in later the each morning and worked almost the same hours. By Friday, I was coming in about 11 or 12 carrying spare shoes. General Manager criticized me for being late. I told him, 'I was here until 3. What time should I come in?' He never challenged me again. I didn't work as many hours on Saturday and Never on Sunday.

It was about a 13-week project so I knew it wasn't going to be a life style. I felt so energized when everything was done on time and worked. The overtime pay (I didn't have time to spend) was enough to buy a used car. Hubby & sons learned to work together. And, I didn't have to be out in the heat for more than a few minutes. Report
Good information. Thanks for sharing. Report
nks! Report
MAny of said have a hard time with balancing our lives. Thanks for the suggestions. Report


About The Author

Kirsten Nunez
Kirsten Nunez
Kirsten Nunez is a health and lifestyle writer, editor and author. She has a Master of Science in Nutrition and is currently based in New York. Kirsten spends her days writing articles and dreaming up healthy recipes.