This concept has been very debated and, for many years, it has been somehow considered “fashionable”. It refers to the daily attempt we all need to make to find a healthy balance between the different spheres of life, particularly those of work and private life. In some ways, this concept is common sense and we all agree about it.

Work-life balance becomes a sort of gauge to measure the extent to which we really care about the things we love the most. While being extremely important activities to focus on, sometimes we may run the risk that work or private life become also an alibi to disinvest (our energies, expectations, the quantity and quality of our time) in the other pole.

Nevertheless, the concept of work-life balance is a delicate one as it supports the idea that personal (what I am and the things I wish and choose for myself) and professional (my job requirements) experiences are two totally separate, if not conflicting, aspects. Such a belief provides ground for an extremely, and yet quite common, alienating experience: many people believe time devoted to work is wasted, meaningless while work itself is conceived as a mere mean to earn a salary.

On the contrary, the self-empowerment approach advocates the possibility of living every experience to the full, without the need to categorize them. In this perspective, each experience is conceived as a valuable moment in which we need to deal with goals, wishes, interlocutors as well as limitations and difficulties… each moment and every experience may teach us something new, foster our development and have a flywheel effect on our future.

This vision promotes a generative integration of the work and life spheres that may seem, at the first level, contradictory but that, on the contrary, can be seen as two streams that merge into the same river, one that each of us should learn to navigate. In other words, adopting this perspective means opening up to new possibilities, challenging ourselves, actively listening to the needs of and requests from the external context, and keeping feedback into account. Perhaps, rather than talking about work-life balance we should be talking about living life to the fullest … and living to the full doesn’t necessarily mean being in balance!

We allow ourselves to end this text with a short citation by Primo Levi, who in its book “The Monkey’s Wrench” underlines the connection between doing and being: “(…) he who does that (hating his job) is doomed for life to hate not only his job but himself and the whole world too”.

We would like to suggest you a small reflection: try listing the ten most rewarding things in your job. Once you’ve gotten to ten, start deleting items from your list until you end up having only the top three. Now ask yourself whether you can get this kind of rewards in your personal life too and what you should be doing differently to fully enjoy such rewards.

Once you are done, repeat the same exercise shifting parts between the two spheres of work and private life: list ten rewarding things in your private life, cut them down to three and ask yourself if those three things are present in your work life too.

How did it work for you? Did you notice any discrepancy or were things consistent across the two spheres? Do the things you find rewarding in your work life gratify you in your private life too? Leave us a comment, if you wish.

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