Since I’ve known myself as a person, I’ve had difficulties managing the so-called work and life balance. That’s not because I used to work too much, but because I did neither of the two. It’s only recently that I’ve experienced (what I believe to be) the other side of the spectrum, and it almost cost me everything.

The myth of work and life balance

Doesn’t exist. There is no such thing as balancing your work and your life, and that’s because working, whether you chose that or not, is part of your life. Some lucky people get to pick what to work with, and even luckier people get to decide when to work, however, that does not change the fact that some form of work will probably be a constant throughout their lives.

Understanding that work is a part of your life is important, if you want to be effective at managing your time and your relationships. It’s common to see people prioritize studies and work over relationships with friends, family, and significant others, however, I believe it’s indispensable to question why that actually happens, and whether that’s actually a conscious choice that makes their lives better.

In a world of statistics, metrics, and comparison, facilitated and exacerbated by the advent of social media and other communication technologies, it’s been increasingly common for people to judge themselves through the lens of their work and their apparent success. One such common metric for instance is financial success, another one could be popularity. What’s common in all of such metrics we might use in our day-to-day life is that they are neither completely under our control, nor do they actually correlate directly with our happiness.

My reality

As a Brazilian, I’ve been born in one of the most socially unequal countries in the world, and so it’s a constant reality that I see people in bad social situations to no fault of their own. However, coming from a privileged position, being able to choose what to work with, and when to work, I notice that most of my emotional misery comes not from lack of work or success. Instead, my pain constantly comes from an incapacity to accept that I could live more, by sacrificing less important work.

From the moment you wake up to the moment you fall asleep, you make numerous choices, every single day: Should you get up or hit snooze? Which tone of voice do I say hello to that person? Should I brush my teeth for 20 more seconds? A lot of these choices are things that happen without we are even noticing, because we do them every day. These kinds of choice, that are done mindlessly, are called habits. Habits are decisions that have become effortless for us, we do them without even thinking about it, however they still compose a majority of what we do in a day, and thus have a huge impact in our lives.

Choosing my habits is one of the biggest challenges I face when trying to manage my own time. Healthy habits lead to a very healthy life, while nasty habits will lead to a very miserable life. For instance, one such habit a person might acquire or lose is the habit of social interaction. Another habit you might pick is the habit of studying in your free time. Those, I would say, are good habits. But what happens when one of those starts conflicting with another? What happens when you start having to make the choice to see someone you love or study, every single day?

Work that’s bad for you

In the end, you work because ultimately there’s a belief it will bring something good to you or to someone else. Even in an industrialized world, where the products from our work are completely alienated from our process of production, there’s still meaning in working in the sense that it has a direct relationship with making money. What’s important, though, is to remember that after a certain threshold having more money is merely a tool for achieving further goals, rather than a necessity.

This is something that might only become evident to most after they’ve been on the extreme “work” side of the spectrum. This can happen because they’ve compared themselves to peers, or even to people which have nothing to do with them, and though that meant they had to work more, to achieve that success. What might happen when you stay in that extreme for too long is a deterioration of your relationships, with the most significant people you know, and thus a deterioration of your life, all in the name of your work.

Finding work and life balance, then, is about understand that there is more to life than success in your career, money, status, or all of these other metrics we could use to measure theoretically objective success. Work and life balance, is all about understanding that in the end what really matters in our lives are the connections we make with people. Furthermore, it’s about understanding that what matters are the relationships we have with those people, the love we receive from them, the love we give them, and the happy moments that are shared together.

What’s the right balance?

In the end, I truly believe the correct work and life balance would be a theoretical world where there is no work, where everything that’s done is considered “life” and is truly enjoyable, allowing you to deepen relationships and smile. However, this world does not currently exist, and so I believe the next big thing is to work as little as possible to achieve your goals, while of course planning for the long term.

I write this right now because I’ve been in both ends of the spectrum in my life, and it’s clear what either sides of the spectrum brings out from me.

I am my most productive, happy, true self when I live a lot, when I experience a lot, and I work what I need to, and nothing more. Meanwhile, I am my most miserable, irritable, isolated self when I work a lot, sacrificing the time I have in the name of something that, in the end, doesn’t really matter all that much to me anymore.


There is no such things as a work and life balance, because working, whether we like it or not, is a part of our lives. Thus, letting work negatively affect your life is the same thing and letting your life affect negatively your life, and that’s where that title comes from. It’s possible, by understanding what really matters for our happiness, to achieve a so-called work and life balance. I believe that for anyone, that’s always going to be as much “life” as one can possibly afford. Not everyone has that luxury, but then, that’s an even bigger incentive for anyone that has that privilege to make this choice.

Whether you agree with me or not: I hope this reading has at least made you think a little more about what actually matters to you, and to prevent you from having your life getting in the way of you enjoying living.

And as always, have a good one!