259: Why I Hate the Phrase Work Life Balance

259: Why I Hate the Phrase Work Life Balance

In this episode, I discuss why I hate the phrase “work life balance.” I offer different takes and perspectives on this phrase, my reasons for disliking it, and share why I choose to still use that phrase strategically in my services. I also offer alternative phrases that you can choose to use, if you too don’t love this term.

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259: Why I Hate the Phrase Work Life Balance


Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: [00:00:00] Welcome to the top global ranked and award nominated grad school femtoring podcast. The place for first gen BIPOCs to listen in on conversations about grad school, and growth. In this podcast, you'll learn about all things higher education, personal development, and sustainable productivity. This is Dr.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Yvette Martinez Vu, and I will be serving as your femtor, providing you with tips and tricks and everything else you need to know to successfully navigate grad school. For over 14 years, I've been empowering first gen students of color along their personal and professional journeys, and I'm really excited to support you too.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Welcome back everyone to another episode of the Grad School Femtoring Podcast. This is your host, [00:01:00] Dr. Yvette. Today I have an interesting episode. It's going to be a little bit of a rant. I'm going to be telling you all the reasons why I hate the phrase work life balance, and this is going to sound contradictory, why I continue to opt to use that phrase in my copy on my website when I talk about my services.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: I know those two things don't make sense, but let me explain it further. So the first part is why I don't like it. And the second part, why I'm still using that phrase when I am trying to promote market my services that are much needed for certain folks. So I don't like it. Why don't I like work life balance?

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Why do I, why don't I like that phrase? Well, first, , I tend to place more of an emphasis on the word balance versus the [00:02:00] phrase work life. So when someone says work life balance, the first thing that comes to mind is what I picture when someone says balance and I, I picture a balancing beam or I picture a weight and there's two things on that weight and they have to weigh the equivalent in order for the weight to not topple over.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: That's what I picture. When I try to put everything that is not work related and balance it with work, it feels very, very uneven because I have so many other things that I prioritize aside from work. Work is not my entire life. So to me, it feels unfair to try to balance work with all the many different other areas that are part of your life.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: I also think that it's impossible to ever truly find a balance. There is no single. or day that you are [00:03:00] tending to your work life and your family life in the exact same way even way. There's no day that I spend the same amount of time with my kids as I spend time doing my work. There are going to be days that I spend more time with my kids than I'm doing work.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: There are going to be days that I'm doing more work than I spend time with my kids. It just depends on the season. It just depends on the time of day. It just depends on how I'm feeling. It just depends on my changing circumstances. It just depends. And that balance. to me does not account for that, for the many different ways that things change that make it so that you can't ever truly find a balance.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: I have found a way to instead of using the word balance to try to change it up. So in the past at one point I used to use the The phrase work life harmony. And then I realized it was someone who [00:04:00] told me when you say that I picture Beyonce and Destiny's Child and folks just, you know, singing. And I thought to myself, I don't know if this is the best phrase.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Then I started using. The work, uh, the word or words, work, life, cycling, and I actually like that because when I think about the word cycle, I think about natural cycles like, um, the cycles of the seasons. I think about the cycles of, you know, The ocean and ocean waves. And that's a really nice metaphor. I very much like that.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: I've also heard people who use the phrase work life integration, and I'm a fan of that one too. That one's not bad, but at the end of the day, it doesn't get at what are we truly talking about? Are we really only trying to talk about work and then everything else is life and trying to put those two things together and [00:05:00] act as if they're both.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Equivalent to each other? They're still not equivalent to each other. So then, what do we do? What do we call it? How do we arrive at finding the right language for it? Language, as we know, matters. And also, language, as we know, can be problematic. And so, That phrase work life balance can be problematic, but I have recently opted to start using it again and I've specifically opted to start using it again on my website and when promoting my speaking services.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Why am I doing this? Does it even make sense? Yes, it makes sense to me because when folks who are in desperate need of support are searching for something online, they're going to [00:06:00] go with the most searchable terms. They're going to go with the most popular terms. They're going to search work life balance.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Yeah, they might search the other ones, but fewer people use work life harmony. Fewer people use work life integration. Fewer people use work life cycling. They're going to go with what's the first thing that comes to mind, whatever the popular phrase is, and they're going to search. And I want to be able to know that if there are folks Who are my target audience who are first gen BIPOCs who want a speaker to talk about how to figure this whole life and work stuff out in a way that feels good for their, you know, holistically, for their body, mind and spirit.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: I want them to find me. I don't want them to find all the other speakers that show up number one on Google. I want them to find me. And they find me if I use that phrase. So yeah, I still don't like that phrase. And yet I'm still choosing to use it [00:07:00] strategically in this case. And then of course, if and when they do hire me as a speaker, then I'm going to go all out on telling them.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Why I don't like that phrase and how I do it a little bit differently from everybody else. So that's my little rant about why I don't like that term work life balance. First off, work and life to me are too broad. There's too many areas of our life that we probably prioritize that it doesn't make sense to me to put it all under the umbrella of life.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: And then work for work to hold that much weight over our lives for work to be the equivalent of everything else that encompasses our life. That to me also doesn't make sense. And then when we think about the, the majority conversations of like, who is actually talking about work life balance. It tends to be white middle class [00:08:00] folks.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: It tends to be folks who hold multiple sites of, um, privileged identities. It tends to be folks that. don't look like me and might not look like my audience members. And so I want to disrupt this space by interfering within it, by showing up on Google, by showing up on Apple podcasts. When someone searches work life balance, hopefully they'll find this podcast episode, they'll listen to it.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: They'll resonate and say, you know what? I don't like this phrase either. And I want to hear more about what Dr. has to say about it. And how does she do this thing that a lot of people call work life balance? And hint, hint, what I call, what I call it is sustainable productivity. And even that phrase is problematic, but you know what, we got to go with what we have for now.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: And as I continue to grow and develop my services, who knows, I might have [00:09:00] another, another way for me to articulate what I'm doing. But, um, for now. And I keep using that phrase work life balance so that folks can find me. I'm going to be, I'm going to continue to teach about sustainable productivity and personal development and ways to do work and live life.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: And when I talk about work, I'm talking about execution. I'm talking about your ability to function. I'm talking about not just the things you do to pay your bills, but the things that you do. To live and to enjoy your life. That's what I mean. So still not a fan of the phrase work life balance, but we gotta use it so that the folks that need to find me can find me.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: And then of course, we can always nerd out together about why we don't love this phrase, what phrase might be better, and how we can use these terms to help [00:10:00] us ultimately take action in our lives.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: That's it for today's episode. I will talk to you all next time.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Thanks so much for joining me in the Grad School Femtoring Podcast. If you like what you heard, here are four ways you can support the show. The first is to make sure you're subscribed and leave a review on Apple Podcasts. If you email me a screenshot, I'll send you a surprise freebie. The second way is to get your copy of my free Grad School Femtoring Resource Kit.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: which includes essential information to prepare for and navigate grad school. You can access it at the link in today's show notes. The third way to support my show is to follow me on social media. You can find me on Instagram with the handle at grad school, femtoring and on LinkedIn by searching my name.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: The last way to show your love is to order a [00:11:00] copy of is grad school for me. My graduate school admissions book for first gen BIPOCs. Thanks again for listening and until next time.

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