I’ve never liked the term “work/life balance”. It assumes that when you’re working, you’re somehow not living. It’s is if you’ve already given up. In my mind I sometimes play the “what would I do if I won the lottery?” game. I always come back to the same answer, “pretty much what I’m doing now”, despite tongue in cheek blog posts about retirement opportunities. I can’t imagine a life without building and creating.
The company that employs me, PodShow, was an outgrowth of that. Before PodShow, before the term “podcasting” existed, I was part of a loose collection of media hackers and broadcasters who were fooling around with distributing entertainment over RSS. We were not getting paid for our efforts. We were doing it because we had to do it and were able to do it. I was fortunate enough to have a steady 32 hours/week consulting gig. It paid the bills and had a minimal commute. That left a generous amount of productive free time for side projects. That free time led to iPodder and GigaDial, which in turn helped create the conditions for PodShow to emerge. The important point is that I was not working on these side projects in order to get a job. I had a great job that I loved. I worked on these projects as a creative outlet and scratched an itch.
Now, there’s an art to making these things pay, to creating an environment that is optimized to align basic human needs with business success. That’s what I got from Jason Calacanis’ money-saving tips post, and what these flamey responses seem to have missed. I think they missed it because the subject of work hours is a tough one, because creating that kind of magic is really hard to do. More often than not you pour your heart into something only to see it fail. That should not be an indictment against pouring your heart into something, but rather an incentive to figure out how to do it better next time. Hence Jason’s post.
And by the way, there’s a vice versa to the original point. Raising a family, which is what most of us associate with the “life” part of the balance sheet, is actually quite a bit of work 🙂