I use the phrase "work/life integration". "Balance" doesn't have the right sound to me: you're a human/spouse/parent/employee/friend each 100% of the time, and you don't balance those like you would a 401k portfolio.
To be all of those things at once, we can try to plan in advance and be adaptable, aim to minimize costs of task switching, prefer async communication over synchronous... but it's a skill like any other that everyone improves with at their own pace. We can look to homemakers for expertise with work/life integration skills.
Sometimes you go through "seasons" where you need to focus more on family, and sometimes you need to get work done.
But the idea of "balancing" - I agree - is not very appropriate.
But wherever you are at any given moment - give 100%.
Easier said than done 😋
Maybe neither is quite right. After all work is part of life but I guess it's shorthand for personal life. Work/life integration has some negative connotations for me when I think of the consequences of too tight an integration. Anyway, ftr I posted this only half jokingly. I think many developers are way too obsessed with learning, improving, advancing, etc. and it can be detrimental to mental and physical health and relationships. Do you see yourself primarily as being on a software development journey? As a human I think that's just totally wrong.
Yeah, thinking of work/life as an optimization problem where you're optimizing for multiple things conflicts are inevitable. And sometimes it would be "better" to earn money for your family rather than spending quality time with them (and some will disagree, resulting in conflict in yet another life role). It's tough being a human.
If your family is severely in debt... what's more of a priority right now - quality time or making money?
If your family values being financially independent, etc. then being in a "season" of tackling the debt would be "better" for now. And this would position your family, long term, to be in a better position.
So ya, sometimes there are short term sacrifices for long term gains, sometimes it depends on values, etc.
No easy answer! And yes, it's tough!
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