What is Work-Life Balance?

A tightrope walker makes his way across the tightrope, high above the ground
Adi Holzer via Wikimedia Commons

What would you say if I asked what work-life balance means to you? Could you describe it?

In this article, I’ll share what I often hear and extend an invitation for you to tell the rest of us what it means to you.

The Interview Question That Stumps Them Every Time

When I’m interviewing job candidates, my sole responsibility is to understand each person as much as humanly possible in the time we have together. I customize my questions for each person, but here’s one that I include every time:

What do you want to get out of your next career opportunity?


What’s most important to you when selecting your next job?

The vast majority tell me they’re looking for work-life balance. Since it’s my job to understand, my next question has to be:

What does work-life balance mean to you?

And this is where the conversation hits a fork in the road. The responses polarize into two camps: those who’ve thought about it and pretty much know what they’re looking for and those who like the sound of work-life balance but don’t yet know what it would look like for them. They just know they want it.

There’s no wrong or right to it, it’s just fascinating, which leads me to…

Why I’m Writing About Work-Life Balance

The most popular post I’ve ever published is one called Balance. Who knew? It’s four years old and continues to draw readers every single week even though I never advertise it. You guys love it.

I love it, too, but maybe for a different reason. I love it because it’s the voice of my readers. That post is a compilation of contributed quotes describing what the word balance means to them. The responses are as varied as the backgrounds of the contributors. Again, there’s no wrong or right. Balance is one of those subjective, personal states that no one else can judge.

It’s Your Turn Again

So, I’m turning the floor over to you again, this time with a slightly different question:

What is work-life balance? 

Does it change over time?

If you had better work-life balance, what would it look like?

Do you want work-life balance?

Your comment can be as short or as long as you like. I’ll pull your thoughts into an article that will be published here. Thanks for playing. I can’t wait to see what you come up with!


17 Replies to “What is Work-Life Balance?”

  1. Great thought provoker. We worked with something similar in my convening call last week “Dissolving the polarity between work and play”.
    In response Wiliam Sebrans took some of the ideas from Osho’s work and offered this. I can’t think of anything better to share.

    “It is a very western idea of having a separation between the work and enjoyment. It is a very Christian idea – that God worked for 6 days and on the seventh he rested. But my vision is totally against this whole idea from the past. I am giving you a totally new vision, a totally new man who is not split into work and rest.

    For me relaxation and work are not opposite. I am not at all in favour of people feeling they work too hard and then they need a rest or a break to relax – that they have to go somewhere away, away from the work. My vision is that you enjoy totally whatever you are doing – that you bring the spirit of the curious child to whatever you do.

    I am not against swimming or against fresh air, or against lakes. It is the split that I am against, the separation that this is work and this is enjoyment, the idea that I need to go to the lake for a break, to relax, to get away from the work. When you work you can be totally absorbed with the seriousness of a child at play.”

    As for me, I’m thinking about it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Tilla,

      Oh, I just knew you’d come up with something thought provoking and interesting. I do love the words you quoted — that’s really what my own personal view is. There’s no distinction between work and play. Rest can happen anywhere, anytime that we decide to make it happen. Lakes and forests are wonderful but not absolutely essential when one needs a break.

      I’m so happy you shared this. If you decide to add anything further, please just hop right in. You’re always welcome here.


  2. Hi Susan–great topic and I love the picture you included! Yes work/life balance is so important to me, and thankfully I have it. I work for a mental health insurance company three days a week from home and spend the other two days (and sometimes evenings) seeing clients in my private coaching practice and doing administrative work, marketing, etc. for my business. I like to have the weekend completely free of work to catch up on cleaning and just having fun. I am very lucky to have this situation, but it has been carefully crafted. I know it can be challenging to find the right balance, but it IS possible!


    Liked by 1 person

  3. There was a time when I would have said there i no such thing, but that was before I had options – makes a big difference. I think we have to look within ourselves to define “balance” because it’s going to be different for each of us. I work at home now and when I’m on a project I am working insane hours and loving every minute of it – but then when I’m finished I can take 3 days off to play and loving that time. For me that’s work life balance – it comes down to having the freedom to make my own choices and create my own life experience.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Marquita,

      I love what you said:

      “… when I’m on a project I am working insane hours and loving every minute of it – but then when I’m finished I can take 3 days off to play”

      Sounds like an enjoyable lifestyle to me! Thanks so much for contributing to the future post.



  4. There’s no such thing and we should stop trying to achieve it. We need to see that work and life are not too different things: now I work, so I’m not actually living?? And viceversa, oh it’s not time to take care of the life part, so no more work.

    Work is part of life and when you love what you’re doing, you actually stop chasing the work/life balance and just live.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Delia,

      Yep. I’m with you on this. If you love what you’re doing, work and life are somewhat blended.

      Thanks very much for reading the post and for contributing. All these comments should make an interesting future post.



  5. I seem to be “working” a lot of the time and most days of the week so my life is pretty much unbalanced. But I’m not sure that it’s the same if you love what you do and work recharges your batteries rather than drains them. Can it be that unbalanced if you are happy? I’m not sure of the answer to that:)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Ana –
      There’s only one person who can tell if you’re leading a balanced life, and that’s you. I, too, love to work and derive happiness from it so I understand your point. I also understand why you’re questioning it as working extra hours gets bad press.

      Thanks so much for contributing!


  6. Work/life balance is something I’ve never quite achieved, but, like Jamie who commented here before me, I’m giving up teaching, at least for a while, to see if I can find that balance. I find it hard to stop thinking about work when I’m not there. Work/life balance would be being able to do that!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. As a school principal I tried to achieve work/life balance and could just not reach the level I wanted. Work seemed to always overtake life. In 2009, exhaustion and lack of balance led me to retire from education and transform myself into a business coach. I now have work/life balance for the first time ever! This allows time for sleep, daily exercise, deeper friendships, more family time, and peace – while I also have a rewarding and completely fulfilling career. Getting off the daily grind of a rigid schedule with 5:30am alarms with the shift to making my own hours, has allowed me to live my life in my own way – every day. I feel grateful to have had the courage to make this transformation and couldn’t be happier!

    Liked by 1 person

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