Sponsored Work-life balance is a cruel myth. Here’s why

Work-life balance is a cruel myth. Here’s why

work-life balance
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It’s the buzz-phrase touted as the key to personal happiness, but does striving for ‘work-life balance’ just make us less happy?

Modern life is complicated, and the lines between our personal, family and professional lives are not always clear.

Trying to make a distinction can not only alienate your personal life from your professional life – it can create unhealthy competition between the two as you strive for that elusive ‘balance’.

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According to the experts, compartmentalising simply doesn’t cut it in the modern world. And as for work-life balance – few people ever feel they have it.

work-life balance
Stop pitting work against personal life and start prioritising what’s most important to you. Photo: Shutterstock

For a healthier perspective, it’s all about prioritising according to what’s important to you, and living a life that’s aligned with your personal values.

What it means

Born in the 1970s, the phrase went viral after the millennium as the working day lengthened. Later, the internet made it difficult for employees to switch off at all.

But trying to unravel work and life can be unrealistic, creating “resistance or pressure that doesn’t need to be there”, says Sandy Ewing of Life Coaching Melbourne.

Take the example of saving for the future: Our salaries (work) help us invest in super, and in return we know our families (life) will be looked after when we retire.

The word ‘balance’ is also misleading and might just set us up for failure.

“No one has perfect balance,” said Ms Ewing.

“Everyone feels like they could be doing more.”

Why it doesn’t apply to modern Australian life

The old ‘8-8-8 theory’ – 8 hours’ sleep, 8 hours’ work, 8 hours’ leisure – was bandied about in the ’80s as a recipe for perfect life balance.

But the 2014 Australian Work Life Index found that one quarter of employees feel “work always interferes with activities outside work and time with family and friends”.

Further, 60 per cent of females and 50 per cent of males reported feeling “chronic time pressure”.

Considering these stats, it’s hard to see how a school of thought that separates ‘work’ and ‘life’ could possibly apply to the average Australian worker.

The real key to happiness

Balance and happiness will mean something different to everyone.

“Instead of striving for ‘balance’, strive to honour yourself and your values,” said Ms Ewing.

“If you’re true to yourself, you’ll automatically have balance,” she said.

work-life balance
‘Balance’ is misleading word – no one has it. Photo: Shutterstock

This means it’s OK to be a woman who cares more about her children than her career, or even a person who enjoys working on the weekends.

Instead of aiming for society-subscribed happiness, decide what’s most important to you, and prioritise accordingly.

With so many competing priorities, it can be hard to focus on the future – retirement feels a long way away when you’re juggling full-time work, kids and a dwindling social life.

But one thing you can do quickly and easily is consolidating your super.

When it’s all in one place you could save money on fees, avoid extra paperwork and know that it’s working as hard as it can for your future.

But before you consolidate, you should check if your other funds will charge exit fees, and if so, how much and whether you’ll lose any insurance cover.

Know what you’re aiming for – after that, everything else can fall into place


This content was proudly sponsored by CBUS: an Industry Super Fund.

The information in this article is of a general nature only. It does not take your specific needs or circumstances into consideration. You should look at your own personal situation and requirements before making any financial decisions.

You should also refer to the relevant Cbus Product Disclosure Statement and Financial Services Guide before making any financial decisions. These are located in the Forms and publications area.

Cbus’ Trustee is United Super Pty Ltd ABN 46 006 261 623 AFSL 233792 Cbus ABN 75 493 363 262. MySuper authorisation 75 493 363 262 473.photo (1)

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