The Truth About Work-Life Balance

by Jul 13, 2023Personal Finance, Success

We joke about it. We dream about it. We demand it.

Work-life balance has become a big topic in vet med in the last few years.

Yet there is a dirty little secret. Are you ready to hear the truth?

Do you think you can handle it?

Here is the Truth: work-life balance is a complete myth!

“It’s as real as Santa Claus” jokes best-selling author Darren Hardy. “You may want him to exist, but he doesn’t.”

By definition, balance is a condition in which different elements are equal. It is “an even distribution of weight, enabling someone to remain steady.”



Time management goddess Sarah Reiff Hekking explains: “We envision that perfect equilibrium where we’re productive at work, creative at home, and in general a “well-rounded person.”

Yet reality ends up being quite different: you stay late to save a patient’s life and family dinner goes out the window.

Chasing work-life balance is as futile as chasing the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

It will leave you frustrated, guilt-ridden and feeling like a failure.

Life is perpetual imbalance, especially in our field.

  • If you have a heart attack, your personal health will suddenly be your main focus.
  • If your child has a big project to finish for school, your family will be the most important thing in your life.
  • If you have a deadline of any kind (an exam, paying taxes, catching a flight), then nothing else will matter until you meet it.



So what’s a better solution?

Tony Robbins calls it “work-life integration.”

Darren Hardy calls it “whole-life success.”

One way to assess your own life is to create your personal “wheel of life.”

You can borrow from the following categories or “spokes”: body, mind/emotions, relationships, lifestyle, career, finances, spirituality and contribution.

Here is a detailed illustration provided by entrepreneur, investor and athlete Chris Ford, adapted from Tony Robbins*:


Then you can rate your own performance* and see how well-rounded (literally) your own wheel is.

Here is an example from Chris Ford:

Chris Ford then asks: “If your life relied on wheels shaped like this to take you places, would it be a smooth ride?”

This representation of your life shows you clearly where to focus to find more “balance.” 

Rather than work-life balance, Sarah Reiff Hekking prefers the expression “work-life blending.”

She explains: “Blending implies a mixture of what fuels you and what’s best for you to be successful in the various areas of your life.”

“Effective work/life blending is like pruning a plant” she continues. “By pruning, we cut away the dead wood and the extra shoots that drain energy from the plant and don’t support its healthy growth.”

How do you do that?

Sarah Reiff Hekking suggests answering these 3 questions:

  • “What activities support and strengthen the life I want to lead?”
  • ”Which activities are of value and aligned with the direction I want to grow?”
  • “Which activities are draining me and are not consistent with the life I want to lead and how I want to grow?”

So you might as well face it: work-life balance is a misnomer. It’s an illusion. The sooner you accept it, the happier you will be.

Phil Zeltzman, DVM, DACVS, CVJ, Fear Free Certified