What’s in a Name?

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the term “work-life balance” and how imperfect it is in summing up the issues that my blog addresses.

Should alternate sides of any scale represent opposites? “Work” is not the opposite of “life”, therefore how valid are those words in ratio form? And, in turn, how helpful is it to think about balance in terms of a work:life ratio? What even is the opposite of “work”? Home? Play?

I recently rediscovered this Ikigai diagram. I like how it encompasses the multiple, and sometimes conflicting, aspects of balance that are rolled into the simplified term “work-life balance”.

The term “work-life balance” is undoubtedly oversimplified and dated, and this has troubled me since I started my blog. I touched on it in one of my earliest posts when I first introduced my Work-Life Balance Profiles Series, and I still haven’t found an apt alternative.

My point then, which I hold to after a year of blogging on the subject, is that work (whether paid or unpaid) is distinguishable from most other aspects of a person’s life. One’s chosen vocation, and the choices that sit behind it, bears significance from both a practical and emotional perspective. It is the benchmark against which people measure their value and identity, as well as being a means to pay the bills and put food on the table.

Yet, of course “work” is not separate from “life” – it is part of it.

Nevertheless, from my many blog-related conversations and interviews over the past year, I have been convinced of the merits of quantifying (however loosely) a person’s sense of balance in terms of their work versus the other things in their life. Work, or its absence, significantly, and exceptionally, impacts other elements of life, so removing it from the equation i.e. thinking in terms of “life balance”, doesn’t quite cover it.

What’s in a name? Does it really matter what expression we use to define the pursuit of balance that is evidently a relevant aspiration? As my quest for an alternative expression continues, I’d like to put that to my readers, and ask of you to share your views of the following question:

What alternative expression to “work-life balance” would you suggest?

I look forward to hearing from you.

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