Self Care November 18, 2020

Work-Life Balance is a Lie

José León @jrleonr

In 2018 I was working for a big company. My manager lived on the other side of the world but I had to go to an office.

My mom was a bit down those days and I asked my boss if I could go to Spain for a week or two and work from there.

I was expecting something like: "sure, no problem!". But, he said no.

Next week, I quit and I went to visit my mom.

If my job doesn't allow me to visit my mom, it's not for me. I don't want to choose between my work or my life. Because there is no such thing.

Balance is why I became an Indie Hacker. And losing balance is why I quit.

You need to understand that there is no balance between life and work. There is only balance in life.

Life is everything.

People say that what you do doesn't define who you are. This only true when you think Work-Life Balance is real. It doesn't tell the full story, but a very important part.

Life has many faces. Love, friendship, exercise, learning, teaching... and work. Work is a big one. Work makes us feel useful, important, gives meaning to our lives, like many other things, but work is not an external part of you.

And that's why we want to be Indie Hackers. Because when you do it, work merges with life.

If you like my writing, please, give me a happy moment and buy me a coffee, or two: https://www.buymeacoffee.com/jrleonr.

  1. 1

    Thanks so much for sharing this, José! :) I completely agree with you - my family comes first, too. I think that's the big difference between people - do you live to work, or do you work to live? And I definitely agree: when your work fits your purpose, it becomes an organic part of your life. Great post, and I love this perspective in the sea of grinding and hustling. Have a great day!

    1. 2

      Thanks to you, Lana!

      Such a beautiful comment! I am very happy to know that you understood my idea and you are living it too.

      Have a fantastic day you too!

  2. 1

    I picked up something from something you said in a reply:

    I disagree. I don't think any company should tell you what you can or can't do.

    Sadly this is exactly what a company can, and often times should do. The choice which is absolutely your right, is to quit and go do something else. Which you did - well done.

    An old boss of mine in another company said something to a colleague of mine who was complaining about a situation not unlike yours and the boss said

    "If you want to make up your own rules, set your own polices and work how you want to work... go and start your own company"

    Some people thought that was harsh but it's actually the best advice I'd heard in a while. When you work for X then you follow X's rules and policies. If you don't like that, leave.

    1. 1

      Well, even though I believe that's a common thing, it doesn't mean that it makes sense.

      We accepted that when you work for a company you have to do what they tell you to do.

      But that based on the fact that companies are built like a school. A teacher and students. The teacher is in charge.

      Well, probably is the other way around.

      But I think the future is different. A company is a collection, a group of people that join to work together to a common goal. And I am sure that in the future that's going to be a company.

      We need a change in the mindset. We don't work for a company. You work with a company.

      This is a longer discussion but just wanted to clarify.

      I understand what you are saying, now just the best is quit. But I think the future of companies are groups of freelancers and independent people who choose to work together.

  3. 1

    What you are describing - being not allowed to go to another country and visit your mother for days on end - for me personally that is not work-life balance, these are just rules your company had. You can use your vacation to visit your mother.

    I usually use the term "Work-Life Balance", when I'm trying to answer to the problem of "not being able to destress", "not being able to switch off work mode", "not being able to regenerate". People often say they need more time off work, but that solution really doesn't answer all of the different aspects of that problem. An after-work hours drink with your co-workers may be more helpful than a day off. In the same way, a day off that you're using as "efficiently" as possible by cramming a lot of things into your time, is also usually rather bad. I found a couple of things that help me, and I'd encourage you to find out what exactly helps you.

    1. 1

      I disagree. I don't think any company should tell you what you can or can't do. There are sometimes when, of course, you have to follow son conventions, or to be in a physical location.

      But just "you can't, because I say so", it does not work, it's not a job. We shouldn't allow people to say things like "this company has rules" to control people. That has another name and I don't like it.

      I don't think people, or me, need to find something to "disconnect" from their work. People need to find real work, meaning, one that feels like playing. That's work.

  4. 1

    Actually, I wanted to start my own business to increase balance in my life. I had no control over my hours worked and all work with no rest ruined my mental health. Some people may choose not to seek balance, like yourself. That's fine. But to pretend it's not possible or real for anyone is a huge exaggeration. For many, like those with health issues or caretaking responsibilities, it's crucial.

    1. 1

      Not finding balance is not an option. Life is Balance, without it, you can't have a good life.

      If you didn't have control over the hours you work, that's not Balance.

      Maybe it's hard to understand what I mean by balance, and this concept, I will try next time to talk about it in a more understandable way.

      1. 1

        "Not finding balance is not an option" - but you say balance is a lie and isn't real. I'm so confused as to whether you think it exists or not, but I'm going to continue prioritizing balance in my own life and knowing that there are multiple ways to achieve it. Other people can burn themselves out.

        1. 1

          Work-Life Balance is a lie.

          Balance is real. Balance is about everything, your work, your relationships, walking, eating, sleeping, etc...

          The only explanation for Work-Life Balance is to trick people to think that there is work and there is life, but that's simply not true.

  5. 1

    Opposite experience, my work life balance has significantly increase when I stopped doing indie hacking full time and got a new job. As I'm typing this comment, this is my office: http://archive.kerjean.me/public/2020/now.jpg

    1. 1

      Love it!

      You don't have to be an Indie Hacker to find balance. If you find a place where you work and you love it, that's fantastic.

      You had to stop being an Indie Hacker because you've lost Balance as it happened to me. This is key.

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