Entrepreneurhood: What Does Work-life Balance Actually Mean?

According to Google, work-life balance is “the division of one’s time and focus between working and family or leisure activities”. A lot of people have said that they’re either doing too much work, or there’s not enough free time for “me time”. They’re also the same bunch of people who complain about doing overtime, not being paid enough, and how working 8-9 hours a day is seriously “cramping their style”.

But that’s not the people we’re focusing on. We’re focusing on the people who’re starting (or looking to start) their own business. We’re focusing on the people whom the internet has collectively swept under the umbrella of “entrepreneurs”.

Is it possible for an entrepreneur to have work-life balance?

If you were to ask an entrepreneur if they felt that they were working too hard, you’d get a mixed bag of yesses and nos. Some of them will tell you that they’re doing what they’re passionate in, and that’s why even when it’s hard, it’s never too hard, because to them, it’s worth it. Some of them will tell you how this is still what they’re passionate in, but it gets really exhausting some (most) of the time.

However, if you were to ask the same entrepreneurs if they have “work-life balance”, they’d tell you there’s no such thing. Their work is their life and their life is their work. Anything else takes second place.

Forbes #1 tech and business social media expert Gary Vaynerchuk is a self-professed hustler. However, according to the workaholic, that doesn’t mean “waking up at the crack of dawn and exhausting yourself until you collapse”. It means that during the time you’re at work, you are full-on 100% committed and focused to the tasks at hand.

In the year 2011, Randi Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Zuckerberg media, tweeted, “The entrepreneur’s dilemma: Maintaining friendships. Building a great company. Spending time w/family. Staying fit. Getting sleep. Pick 3.”

She was determined that you could only have 3 of the 5 choices if you wanted to do great work, but the CEO has since changed her mind about some things. She still thinks that you can only pick 3 everyday, however it doesn’t always have to be the same 3. This discovery has allowed her to keep picking 3 and have all 5 in her life.

What about work-life Integration?

The problem with the concept of work-life balance is that “equal distribution” has a different meaning for everybody. Not everyone thinks of it as 8 working hours a day, no disturbances outside them. Some people want more working hours, some want less. The equation for work-life balance is a constant recalibration of scales as priorities shift and people marry, have families, or get more invested in their career.

A new school of thought on work-life balance has been growing in traction recently: work-life integration. The idea is that instead of trying to balance your work and life, you should just fuse them together. It means involving your personal life in your work life, or combining interests with your work, or even just planning your schedules such that work and everything else go hand in hand.

For entrepreneurs, it means working with people who are also friends, whom they enjoy spending time with, and with whom they can have fun working with. It means making work an exciting place to be, where work is also play. It can even be as small as having more breaks in between work.

For some, they turn their hobbies into work. Take something you’d be happy to do for free and monetize it. You’ll have fun and earn money at the same time! Isn’t that great? …Perhaps not so for everyone, because for most of us, part of what makes hobbies fun is that you’re not obligated to them. So while this is possible for some entrepreneurs, don’t expect it to apply to everybody.

What’s your choice?

Which school of thought do you think applies to you better? Balancing your work against your personal life, or combining both? While integration seems the way to go, there are many people who prefer to separate work from personal pleasure.

What’s your preference?