Do you have a life? I truly hope you answer “yes” to that question! According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, “life” is “the sequence of physical and mental experiences that make up the existence of an individual”. I believe that everything we do, all of the people we meet, and all of the experiences we have along the way, constitutes our life. And whether we like it or not, our life continues while we are at work.

You’ve probably heard the famous advice from Harvey MacKay to “Find something you love to do and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.” While I do think that’s great advice, I also believe it’s a bit philosophical. I’ve known people who have been lucky enough to find and work at their dream job, but they loved it so much that they found themselves not spending as much time with their family as they would have liked. So while you could say they loved what they did so much that they didn’t consider it “work”, there was no doubt that they were missing a balance in their life.

There’s really no escaping it for the majority of us: we have to work for a living. Some are lucky enough to enjoy and find passion in their work, while others work only to fund their passions. Before the current United States recession officially began in December 2007, a CareerBuilder.com survey in 2007 found that 84% of workers were not in what they considered their dream job (for more information, refer to this article). Interestingly, only 12% of those workers listed salary as an important requirement for a dream job. And according to a more recent 2009 Clarus poll, 88% of American workers found themselves happy with their jobs (for more information, refer to this article).

I’m going to assume that with the current economic climate and a national unemployment rate of 9.6 percent in the United States as of August 2009, that higher percentage of happy workers are mainly happy to even have a job. Having said that, I’d like to ask a question that I hope will get us all to stop and think about where and how we spend our time and energy. It’s a question that many love to pass the time thinking over: if you won a million dollars today, what would you be doing tomorrow?

Ah, the possibilities! When you have the answer to that question, ask yourself this: why would you do those things tomorrow only if you had those million dollars? Why are you stopping yourself today from doing what you’d love to do tomorrow? Granted, there will be some dreams that simply require gobs of money, such as buying a mansion, a private jet, or your own sports franchise. But if some of your dreams were more along the lines of spending more time with your family, fishing more, playing more golf, or learning how to paint or play the piano, then I strongly urge you to reflect on why you’re not allowing yourself those smaller luxuries right now.

With some time and planning, possibly some sacrifices in other less important areas of your life, and maybe even a little money you decide to put aside each week, you can make some of those smaller dreams a reality. Wipe away any clutter and daily distractions, and ask yourself what you really think is important. Life can seem so hectic at times, it helps to periodically stop and consider whether you’re on the path you want to be on. I firmly believe that it can be all of the little things throughout our days that help us find a balance in our lives.

So is there really such a thing as a work-life balance? I think the answer is both “yes” and “no”. Do what you love and it won’t seem so much like work, but you still need balance in your life. I think striking a balance between your work and personal life is somewhat like the pursuit of happiness. You don’t snap your fingers and suddenly achieve happiness. It’s a way of life, a mindset, a continual pursuit. You won’t always find yourself having a perfect mix of work and personal time. Such is life! If you consider yourself happy, and those who are an important part of your life consider themselves happy as well, then I’d say you’re on the right path!