Work Life Satisfaction – About That ‘Balance’ Myth

September 15, 2017

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Should we be focusing on work life ‘satisfaction’

rather than ‘balance’?

Recently I was listening to one of my favourite podcasts – Smart Passive Income – with its host Pat Flynn, and the subject of ‘work life balance’ came up.

On the show, in episode 279, Pat was speaking with Jessica Turner, author of the hugely popular book The Fringe Hours.

On the subject of balance, Jessica has a really interesting take.

In the podcast she shares:

“I’m constantly thinking about, “Am I satisfied in the different areas of life that I’m living, be that work, family, my passion projects, travel, things that I’m enjoying doing, all of those things?” 

Is there satisfaction, and is there anything that feels like, man, this should be a little higher than it is on the priority list? Or I should be doing this a little more? 

Am I satisfied in all of those different areas? And if I’m not satisfied, then I realize that I need to make a change.” – Smart Passive Income, episode 279

Rather than focusing on working ‘x’ amount of hours, in comparison to ‘x’ amount of downtime, Jessica argues that ‘work life satisfaction’ is more of an important (and realistic!) focus than ‘work life balance’.

This take on ‘satisfaction’ I found fascinating, and I’m excited to go into it in more depth with you!

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Work life balance – it’s not a thing?

How many times have you heard (or thought to yourself) “my work life balance is way off!”?

I know I’ve been on the receiving end of friends telling me this, and I’ve also been the one lamenting.

Work life balance – what does it really mean?

50% of your waking hours spent working? 50% of your waking hours spent relaxing?

Work life balance is, as Jessica shares, a kind of ‘non concept’ because balance is in itself so disputable. Satisfaction instead is a way of reframing the concept, satisfaction is about how you feel.

17hr Days – Work Life Satisfaction?

Rewind six months to the pre-launch phase of Big Small Business . . .

Laura and I were gearing up for our very first conference, and we’d often WhatsApp at 11pm one night only to start messaging each other again at 6am the next day.

We were excited!

If you’d asked me, in theory, if I anticipated a 17hr work day making me feel good (or indeed ‘balanced’), I would have laughed and said a big “no!”.

Whilst it wasn’t sustainable (I totally don’t recommend working those crazy hours regularly!) I was 100% satisfied with my work life balance at that time. You could say – I was ‘satisfied’.

Again as Jessica shares in the podcast:

“ . . . we’re trying to have balance, and there’s no such thing. Work isn’t separate from life; they bleed into each other.

. . . there might be times when you are working a ton, and work is really heavy, and that’s bleeding into your life. But if it’s work that you love and you’re satisfied, that isn’t going to have the same type of negative repercussions as if you’re working a lot and you hate the work that you do”

My takeaway from this?

Your own personal work life satisfaction, is determined by what makes you feel good, excited and inspired!

This includes everything which makes up a ‘full life’ for you!

“Work life balance is, as Jessica shares, a kind of ‘non concept’

because balance is in itself so disputable.

Satisfaction instead is a way of reframing the concept,

satisfaction is about how you feel.”

What Fulfils You?

Having pondered the question of work life satisfaction, I think it comes down to knowing what really makes you feel good. In every aspect of your life. And with that, how much of your time you give to each of them.

Do you enjoy your work?

When do you have time to yourself, to pursue the things you enjoy?

Are you regularly seeing loved ones, and hanging out with your friends?

Do you take care of your mind, body and wellbeing?

Are your relationships healthy and happy?

If you’re responding positively to all of the above, then my guess is that your work life satisfaction is already looking pretty good. If you’re feeling a bit ‘off course’ with any of the above, then perhaps it’s an opportunity to look more closely at how you spend your time.


Since learning about the concept of ‘work life satisfaction’ I’ve felt a lot less guilty about how I spend my time. Rather than berating myself for ‘lazily’ emailing from bed one day (I literally did this this morning and it felt glorious!), or getting cross because I was ‘putting in excess hours’ working on the weekend, I’m simply leaning into what feels good overall in my life right now.

This is part and parcel of going with the flow and figuring out those periods when life feels incredibly busy.

And for the record, my work life satisfaction currently looks like:

  • Organising actual ‘dates’ with Oli.
  • Working on content I really love creating.
  • Working with people who are incredible at what they do.
  • Enjoying more sleep!
  • Booking gym classes in every week.
  • Seeing friends for catchups, wine and fun.
  • Celebrating moments ‘just because’.

What’s Your Take?

What are your feelings about work life satisfaction? What do you think contributes to you feeling ‘satisfied’?

I’d love to know!

Love, Monica x

Photography by Frances McMahon





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