Musings on Life Balance (Not Work-Life Balance)

by Nancy Zwiers | 08 Jul 2022

The Bloom Report

Musings on Life Balance (Not Work-Life Balance)

By Nancy Zwiers


People in my circles are quibbling over terminology:  is it Work-Life Balance or is it Work-Life Integration?  Both terms imply that work is not a part of life, which of course is not the case. Evolution requires all living things to make a livelihood.  These terms also might imply that our work and our life are on equal footing, but work is just one part of life.  Taking a step back, I’m advocating for “Life Balance” as the term of choice.


Our lives are multi-faceted and balancing the many facets is no small feat.  Let’s face it: It’s not really a dyad (x vs x) when there are so many different facets competing for our precious time and attention:  work tasks, work relationships, rest/relaxation, recreation, health, family (partners/spouses, children, grandchildren, parents, siblings), friends, social circles, local community, citizens, environment, travel, volunteerism, personal finances, etc.  We all subconsciously execute a complicated balancing act every day, one that evolves as we move through various life stages. 


I submit that balancing all of life’s demands in concert with our values is fundamental to achieving a sense of well-being.  Given its complexity and importance, maybe the concept of Life Balance deserves more thoughtfulness on our part? 


Of course, there is no magic bullet here, no single right answer (darn!).  For sure, life balance strategies differ greatly not only by life stage and values, but also by gender, marital status, parental status, and more.  Here are a few musings that might help you jumpstart a personal inquiry into your own Life Balance strategies.

  • Start with clarifying your values. I have a simple values exercise that I’m happy to share (send email request to  This also relates to my 6/10 Bloom Report column entitled A Parable on Time Management.
  • Working mothers define life balance differently than colleagues who have stay-at-home spouses. I was once at a conference when this topic came up.  A story was recounted how a top Silicon Valley executive vowed to get home for dinner at least two nights a week as his stake in the ground for work-life integration.  Ah…if it were only that easy for those of us who have to bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan, get the kids to do their homework, organize play dates, write notes to the teacher, etc. etc. We working mothers would do well to give ourselves grace.  Our male allies would do well to remember that by and large, they often have it easier than their female colleagues. 
  • Have you heard this one: You can have it all—just not all at the same time. I do ascribe to the concept of achieving life balance over the full arc of my life, as different facets come in and out of focus.
  • Once one become a parent, the game changes from maximizing one’s career to optimizing one’s life balance. I remember being promoted to SVP of Worldwide Barbie Marketing while on maternity leave from Mattel.  How in the world would I balance the competing demands of a high performer and a great mom????  I landed on my answer:  Mattel wasn’t paying me for my time—they were paying me for the business-building results I achieved through leveraging my ability to strategize, innovate, take smart risks, and lead the team.  Time is a constrained resource, but creativity, boldness, and leadership are not constrained.  Or job is to create results, not merely occupy a role.  That framing supported me in feeling good about my choices to achieve life balance.


Bottom-line, Life Balance is the holy grail of happiness, contentment, and well-being.  Its worth our time to become as thoughtful as possible about the choices we each stage of our lives.

#life balance

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