Originally published 15 June 2006.
In an article I found over at Lifehacker.org, Adrian Savage talks about work-life balance, and how it is simply not going to be cured by policies.
Problems with the balance between the demands of profit-driven corporations and people’s need to live a satisfying life won’t be cured by policy statements and procedure manuals. That isn’t where the causes lie. They’re inside people’s heads: obsessive achievement drive, ambition gone mad, laughable greed for money and power, and blithe disregard of anything not linked to short-term results. … Work/life balance is an issue of civilization. It’s driven by simplistic, financially-derived goals, an unthinking ideology of “winner takes all,” and contempt for those unable to keep up. It’s the result of achievement motivation run wild.
As I look at how to balance my own life, part of it lies in figuring out what I want to do, and part lies in saying no. For after all, isn’t balance about saying yes as well as saying no?
As I look wistfully at those who live a very simply life with no need for outside employment, I wonder if I could do that? Would the very simplicity of the life drive me mad? Or is it possible to back away from the achievement to find a better balance? Perhaps exchanging less work and money for more free time? Where is it written in stone that we must work 40 hours or more a week?
Update 2007: After cutting back my work hours, I was able to escape the desperation I was feeling from having to spend so much time at work. It isn’t written in stone that we must work 40 hours a week, but it also isn’t easy to get there.