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Participating in “Weisure”… or Are People That Naïve

Sometimes you have to wonder what the popular press is thinking when they run goofy stories. In the case of CNN, you have to wonder what the news organization was thinking when it created a special section called Having it all: Work-life balance. Nothing like inappropriately setting people’s expectations! In fact, a sociologist is trying to convince people that some phenomenon called “weisure” (combining work and leisure) actually exists.

In reality, “weisure” as defined by the sociologist that coined it, is nothing more than taking time out of one’s personal life to use social media and other technology to interact with work life. We’re not talking about having fun at work! We’re talking about working when we’re at home. Guess what, working at home is called telecommuting, and it doesn’t involve slacking off and playing with the kids while simultaneously getting work accomplished. It should mean that we have the flexibility to interact with work demands and non-work demands at the times when each needs attention. Hence, people should have the ability to shift more easily back and forth between work and life through the use of technology.

Yet, millions of Americans are going to be duped into believing that they are experiencing work-life balance or “weisure.” In reality, what happens all too often is that people work a full day and then engage in flexible work practices at night. This phenomenon takes away from our personal time rather than contributing to it. That is not what it means to be “Having it all,” as CNN would have us believe.

This special section also tries to convince us that we should be looking for jobs that require fewer than 40 hours per week, as if that is the gold standard for work-life balance. Newsflash CNN! Millions of people love their jobs! They actually work more than 40 hours per week, not because they have to, but because they want to. Individuals who identify with their job as a “career” or “calling” work for more than the financial support; they use work as a medium to meet personal needs, goals, and fulfillment.
Lastly, CNN provides some tips for achieving your career resolutions. These “resolutions” are in fact nothing more than effective time management skills that you can and should apply on a daily basis. Achieving career success, life success, and work-life balance success is not about time management. Sure, time management is important to ensure you get the things done that need to be done, but this does not get at the core of achieving overall work-life balance and satisfaction.

Instead of the five tips provided in the story, I would suggest that you first need to set a career resolution that isn’t about just about the work you perform. Your career resolution should be to:

  1. Find a field of work that interests you;
  2. Find a field of work that builds on your strengths;
  3. Find a context (an organization) that permits you to apply your strengths in a way that makes you happy;
  4. Prioritize your life (both work and life together); and
  5. Continually look for ways to add meaning to your life.

Then, on a daily basis, you can set goals, manage your time, and be a success!

I don’t know about you, but I’d rather have a job that I feel good waking up for every day (regardless of the actual number of hours I work) than one where I am paid well but am counting down the hours until I can leave!

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Kris (05/21/09) said:

Great job calling CNN on their sloppy repackaging of work-life balance. I have it all, but that simply means that I have my expectations set and I enjoy what I do, both for my home life and for my work life. Nicely written!

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Dr. Matt Grawitch published on May 19, 2009 5:52 PM.

Goal-Setting Principles: Problematic or Universal? was the previous entry in this blog.

Three New Ways to Connect with the Psychologically Healthy Workplace Program is the next entry in this blog.

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