A year ago, I wrote a column called "The Great Myth of Work-Life Balance." It was, without a doubt, the most divisive thing I've ever written. Some people love it. Others accused me of having escaped from a particularly strict wing of the Russian army to inflict my iron will on every unsuspecting American worker who read that column.
Whether people loved it or hated it, one thing was clear: Work-life balance was a subject a lot of people had on their minds. That hasn't changed. A year later, finding a way to strike that delicate balance between earning a living and having a life is as desirable as ever.
In the past year, there's been an awful lot of science, too, that points to the need for workers to find ways to integrate both mentally and physically healthy habits into their work lives. It turns out, for example, that sitting at your desk all day without getting up to walk around may just be killing you.
The good news, though, is there's a lot you can do about this. Simple changes in the way you work – and the way you think about work – can help you achieve work-life balance without having to find a career knitting fair trade oven mitts while listening to world music.
It was also interesting to discover recently that desiring work-life balance isn't just a Gen Y thing. While our youngest workers are, indeed, looking for careers that will allow them to stay true to themselves and have a life outside of work, senior citizens, too, put more stock in work-life balance than you might expect.
In fact, a Cornell University professor who has interviewed more than 1,200 senior citizens said many of them advise recent grads to travel before settling down. They also suggest choosing a job that you will enjoy, rather than one that pays a lot. Another senior advises new grads to consider becoming entrepreneurs because it affords a level of work-life balance other jobs don’t.
And, if you're stuck in a job you hate, those seniors said, make the most of it. Even learning to ride out difficult times in your careers can have benefits – like teaching you that not everything in life will always be easy.
Perhaps that's the truest definition of work-life balance: Finding ways to see the positive in everything you do – even if you're not making a living selling handcrafted organic chocolate to raise money for your favorite charity.