Work Life Balance – Do We Have It Right?

Taking Action for Wellbeing Conference

By Julius E. Rhodes, SPHR

I would like to take a moment to talk about a subject that has and will continue to receive consideration attention work - life balance. Since the earliest employee attitude surveys were conducted going back to the 1920’s and most certainly in the 1950’s respondents began to talk about the issue of work – life balance. I would like to suggest that categorization has been and is wrong and since words have meaning, literal and figurative we need to change the vernacular around this subject.

You see when we use the word balance, we are suggesting that if you are leaning to one side of the scale, you are light on the other end. Well, the reality is, as I see it there is no such thing as work – life balance because we do not forget the things that make up our life when we come to work and, in many instances, we do not forget the things that contribute to our work life when we get back to our personal life. So let me suggest a way of looking at this that allows us to more accurately describe what many, if not all of us go through which is a realization that our work – life issues are intertwined in such a connected manner that it is virtually impossible to separate them.

This idea of work – life intertwinement means that we have to make room for the different parts of our life regardless of where we are or what we are doing because periodically our thoughts will wonder from one to the other in the course of our day. Knowing this is the case the question might be naturally asked how do we address this intertwinement so that we maximize our opportunity to live a full productive life that allows us to execute on the goals and objectives we set for ourselves? I am glad you asked.

While what I am going to offer you is not an exhaustive list, it does begin to lay the groundwork that each of us needs in order to address the intertwinement that exists between our work – life issues. The first thing I offer you is this. We all need to remember that what we do in our work lives is just a small subset of what we do in our lives. To the extent that we are consistent in the big things it makes it easier to be consistent in the small things and vice versa. I’m not saying that work is not important, because it is. However, we are much more than who we are at work and as I often say, there should not be a difference between a public and a private person. Consistency is essential to being able to address and rectify the myriad issues we face with work – life intertwinement.

Second, we need to understand that no is an acceptable answer and it allows us to set boundaries and stick to them. Many times, we get stretched in our work – life issues and the reality is, we cannot do it all. Establishing clear boundaries and being able to stick to them is also essential if we are going to practice self-care and self-compassion.

Next, we need proper nutrition which includes what we eat, the amount of rest we get and the activities we engage in. There is a difference between exercise and recreation. Exercise is the routines we engage in on a regular basis that allow us to be physically and perhaps mentally fit. 
Recreation are the things we do that bring us happiness and enjoyment. For instance, I have always and will always believe that we shouldn’t stop doing this we enjoyed as a youngster just because we are an adult. I enjoy swing rides and while I may not be able to do them as a part of my regular exercise routine, whenever I have an opportunity to go for a swing ride, or shoot hoops in the rain, or skip which I enjoy immensely I rarely miss that opportunity.

Most people are creatures of habit and as such we fall into a pattern of behaviors that we continue to manifest over the years without ever asking ourselves why do we continue to do this or how does it benefit me? All of us need to continually look at the things we do and purge those behaviors that do not allow us to optimize the connection between work – life issues. We all need productive uptime and downtime and that should occur in our work – life intertwinement. Because if we do not allow for this to happen the occurrence of burnout, additive behaviors and depression will surely take root and consume us.

I would like to add just a couple things each of us can do to enhance our ability to address issues of work – life intertwinement. First, we all know those who fail to plan, plan to fail. Therefore, plan ahead. While this may not always be possible it is usually the case in most instances that we can devote some time to planning ahead. Next, realize that we all have conventions that our brain uses to get our tasks done. Do not try to be something you are not. Be the best you, that you can be and that will allow you to embrace your unique traits that allow you to be the best you that you can be.

The final things I will offer is that each of us needs to make time during our day to take mental breaks and become more in-tune with your emotional, physical and spiritual self and by spiritual, I mean our belief systems. We must refrain at all costs from allowing ourselves to become so fixated on an issue that is prevents us from practicing mindful behaviors and we must encourage others to do the same. And find things in your life that bring you passion and cling to them with everything you have.

I hope this helps and I would welcome your thoughts and comments on this subject. Let’s talk!

Julius E. RhodesJulius E. Rhodes, SPHR is the Director of People and Culture for the Copeland Center for Wellness and Recovery. He is also the Founder and Principal of the mpr group a Human Resources and Management Professional Services Firm located in Chicago, Illinois, author of “BRAND: YOU Personal Branding for Success in Life and Business” and BRAND: YOU The Workbook. He can be reached at [email protected]



Julius is one of the keynote speakers for Taking Action for Wellbeing Conference, August 11-13, 2024 in Philadelphia, PA