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Thursday, October 07, 2004

Balance is Bunk!

It's the central myth of the modern workplace: With a few compromises, you can have it all. But it's all wrong, and it's making us crazy says this article. This is an unattainable pipe dream, a vain artifice that offers mostly rhetorical solutions to problems of logistics and economics. The quest for balance between work and life, as we've come to think of it, isn't just a losing proposition; it's a hurtful, destructive one.In the last generation, balance has won huge cultural resonance. No longer mere cocktail conversation fodder, it has become something like a new inalienable right, creeping into the human ethos if not the Constitution: life, liberty, and the pursuit of balance. Self-actualization and quality time for all! This lengthy article among other things describes the people who learn to dance with change, who create and ride the wave." They don't make decisions once or twice, but all the time.And here's what's crucial: With each decision, these people invest themselves, their passion, and their time in what is most important to them. They also agree to give up something important; a portfolio life doesn't excuse them from the need to make trade-offs. The decision to reject the mirage of balance requires the discipline to continually prioritize and compromise.Is that balance? Only in the sense that, over time, things more or less balance out. But that doesn't make it perfect, or easy. In some ways, it's counterinstinctual.It forces us to think differently about our careers and about the contributions we make in all realms of our lives. And it gives us a plan that's valid only until the next baby, project deadline, layoff, or illness.

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