Hate the Term “Work-Life Balance”? Here Are 10 Alternatives

If you read the history of work-life balance, you’ll know that this debate has been going on for quite some time. But lately, society seems to be collectively wailing at the universe: why does my life feel out of control? Why do I have to work so much?

Even if hearing the word “work-life balance” make you roll your eyes and tune out, these are still critical questions to our happiness and well-being. If you’d like to change the conversation, here are some alternatives to try out.

Work-life harmony

“Jeff Bezos nailed it when he referred to it as ‘work-life harmony.’ Work is required to earn a living, so the trick is learning how to bring life and work together instead of separating them entirely and trying to find time for both worlds. That doesn’t work”

 – Rayner Smith, chief story teller at TICO Shaving

“I do prefer the term ‘harmony’ because it’s more dynamic and forgiving. Balance suggests you’re going to fall off if you don’t get it just right”

 – Sherlyn Pang Luedtke, founder of PresentParentTraining.com

Work-life fit

“Achieving it means knowing how you personally define success, knowing what your priorities are in this season of your life, and making the choices that allow you to honor those priorities as best you can. Call it work-life fit, work-life integration – it doesn’t matter. All of that is semantics. It’s a matter of perspective and actively choosing what matters most on a daily basis”

 – Sally Anne Giedrys, owner of Whole Life Strategies Coaching

Work-life integration

“I prefer the terms ‘work/life integration’ and ‘work/life management’ because they more accurately describe what I am striving for. I find that it is not possible or desirable to draw bright lines between work and my personal life, and I integrate each so I can do what I need to when I need to. Also, I am not trying to achieve a 50-50 balance, but rather manage my activities so I can be effective in my various roles”

 – Cynthia Thomas Calvert, president of Workforce 21C

Life-work balance

“Work is just one aspect of your life and by using the term ‘work-life,’ you end up putting the word ‘work’ before ‘life’”

 – Jason Weberman, dating and relationship expert

“It is important to fully enjoy your life most importantly – and then view work as a tool that helps you accomplish your life goals”

 – Ola Danilina, CEO and founder of PMBC Group

Life-work integration

“Putting our business ahead of our life is a slow form of suicide. . . . Our lives and our businesses are happening at the same time. Stop trying to separate them. Integrate them”

– David Taylor-Klaus, serial entrepreneur and business coach

Life balance

“It would help to drill down into more specifics about the things which make people happy. I also feel like it’s a constant attention tug-of-war between work and personal life – with each pulling harder at different times in our lives. The challenge is keeping life as close to balanced as possible, and different people have different needs”

– Ben Peterson, CEO and cofounder of BambooHR

“When your work has meaning, and is aligned with your passion, it stops feeling like ‘work.’ It’s just a part of life. In the same way, I don’t think of health-life balance. Or relationship-life balance. It’s just life”

 – Michael Overell, CEO and cofounder of RecruitLoop


“I think the keyword is ‘balance’ – with work-life balance, I picture a set of scales tipping back and forth. I don’t think work-life balance is a state that we can achieve, but rather a constant journey which ebbs and flows depending on the needs of the day”

 – Sara Sutton Fell, CEO and founder of FlexJobs

Work hard, play hard 

“I’m not a fan of the word ‘work-life balance.’ It’s as if there’s a negative vibe to it that one must constantly try to work at. I prefer to work hard and play hard. So long as I put in great quality work, no number of hours could ever compare”

– Giovanna Di Biccari of GobbleBox


“I prefer to call it ‘achieving equilibrium.’ I take care of myself — mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually — doing the daily things I need to do to maintain my equilibrium. There is an ebb and flow to my existence”

 – Mary Beall Adler, CEO and owner of Georgetown Bagelry

Work-life [fill in the blank]

“Some days, it feels like the work-life circus, and some days it feels like work-life blessed”

– Holly Rodriguez, communications professional


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Written by:
Kira M. Newman is a Tech Cocktail writer interested in the harsh reality of entrepreneurship, work-life balance, and psychology. She is the founder of The Year of Happy and has been traveling around the world interviewing entrepreneurs in Asia, Europe, and North America since 2011. Follow her @kiramnewman or contact kira@tech.co.
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