Man playing with dog. Stephanie Deissner/ThinkstockPhotos

Is work-life balance a myth?

Work-life balance involves managing priorities between work and life commitments, such as your career, business, family, friends, and free time.

“There’s no such thing as work-life balance. There are work-life choices, and you make them, and they have consequences.”  - Jack Welch

Has work-life balance become a fable, or part of a fairytale that everyone dreams of?  So much is said about it, that many workers are tempted to roll their eyes when the topic is brought up. For farmers, there are certain times of the year when, let’s face it, ‘work-life’ balance is a bit of a joke.

As you know, work-life balance (or choices) involves managing the priorities between work and life commitments, such as your career, business, family, friends, and free time.

Being “balanced” can mean something different to each person.  One person may feel balanced working 60 hours per week, while another is happy at 40, and a different person maxes out at 20. It’s highly dependent on personality, life-situation, health, finances, support system, stage of life, responsibilities, desire for upward mobility, and obligations outside of work.

Does everyone want or need work-life balance?

Some people go as far as to say if you are self-employed or a business owner, there is no such thing as work-life balance.  As a company owner, the business is integral to their lives and often difficult to separate and may not even be a characteristic the entrepreneur desires. 

So, if the thought of balancing work and life stresses you out, or if you are happy the way things are, don’t fret!  This is where the work-life choice terminology is important.

Is work-life balance achievable?

For those who want it, is this balance actually achievable when we consider factors such as technology, which ensures we are contactable 24/7 and we may feel our job security relies on overtime?

Certainly, working in the agricultural sector, the work involved does not necessarily allow workers to clock a regular 8-5 job.  Even in non-farm settings, ag support service workers may be required to travel and be away from home on a regular basis.

Older generations stereotypically valued hard work, sacrifice and duty before fun (traditionalists, born 1922-1945) and were workaholics (Baby Boomers, born 1946-1964).  However, as new generations have entered the workforce and we’ve experienced a boom in technological advancement, we’ve seen changes in workplace characteristics. The Generation X (born 1965 – 1980) motto is “work to live, not live to work” and they value flexibility. Millennials (born 1981- 2000) want to work smarter, not harder.  The newest Generation Z will soon be entering the workforce and bringing their own set of choices to this work-life balance game.    

Addressing the balance

If you have decided to address work-life balance, these are some questions and choices you may want to consider:

  • What is the culture in your workplace? Is it supportive?
  • What areas of your life to you want to spend more time focusing on?
  • Are you using all your vacation, personal and comp days?
  • Do you go to work even when sick (hint- your coworkers don’t appreciate it!)?
  • Are you missing family gatherings or kids’ activities?
  • Do you feel like you have absolutely no time to give?

It may be time to ask, “Can this wait until tomorrow?”

“We are human beings not human doings – so let’s start acting like it. Take the time to appreciate the fruits of life. At the end of the day, life is for living; and living is about health and happiness.” -Richard Branson

For additional information, contact [email protected] or visit

The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or Farm Progress.

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