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Work life balance: is it a myth?

Hisham Farouk Hisham Farouk


Someone once asked me, are you living to work? An interesting question, I thought.

This made me start thinking about work life balance and whether it truly exists in the fast paced working environment. The developments of technology and processing of information has resulted in a transformed world that is moving quicker than ever before, impacting both our personal and professional life. This brings greater strain to balance both aspects of our life to define the reason of our existence, and fulfillment of our dreams and aspirations. Should our personal and professional life be seen as interlinked and interchanging – whereby one cannot survive unless succinct together?

When we begin our professional careers, we endeavor to progress up the corporate ladder as quickly as we can, because not only does this bring professional satisfaction it also brings us closer to our personal goals. As a result many professionals sacrifice their personal lives working harder than many of their colleagues or peers - so could it be said the greater the sacrifice, the greater the reward? But what do we compromise as a result? Is there really such as thing as work life balance or is it used as an employee brand tool?   Work does become life for many, who strive to make a difference and compete in excelling in their careers.  Yet without passion for what we do, there can never be the balance and true definition of happiness in our existence.  

A contributor to the Harvard Business Review blog wrote “climbing the organisational ladder often requires employees to work long hours and deal with difficult and complex issues. A common dilemma for many people is how they manage all of the competing demands in work and life and avoid letting any negative effects of work spill over into their personal lives”.

Considering the above, I allude to my original question – is work life balance a myth? Does favoring our personal life, affect your professional life and vice versa? Do people begin to resent work not because they don’t enjoy their profession, but for what it ‘stripes’ them of personally to earn it?

I would agree that there is no such thing as work life ‘balance’, but that work must be seen as a fundament of life, a need that fulfills our wants, a need that allows us to fulfill the wants of our loved ones, allows us to set goals – personally and professionally. It should not been seen as a career, or a means to an end, but an innate part of life that without, the ‘life’ element of the balance becomes difficult to fulfil. 

When you lead a project, you determine what good would look like. The same should apply for life – it is about understanding and determining what success looks like for you as an individual. This will naturally evolve as you progress through the phase of life. The two must go hand in hand and be managed in parallel as I believe that one cannot survive without the other. 

As the Managing Partner of Grant Thornton, my commitment to my team and family is equally as important.  Our firm and their families are our family and we must all collectively support our professional commitments and our obligations to our family - our core sense of purpose and happiness.


Harvard Business Review, Work-Life "Balance" Isn't the Point, by Christine M. Riordan. Accessed on 29 May 2014 via
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