Balance. So misunderstood that I don't even like having conversations about it. It is mostly about pushing the overall narrative on everyone "Just do your job and go home and enjoy life." Here is my take on that you may consider so you don't feel so terrible when you don't fit the social narrative.
There are two main types of balance, macro and micro, and it is very personal which one we lean more towards. Not what we always do. But what we do most of the time.
I know people who love what they do and love working crazy hours. This is what makes them happy. So why would we tell them otherwise? Here is the truth, the most driven individuals live without balance for years. Nothing extraordinary that has ever been created happened by balancing everything around them. Dedication doesn't have balance, whether it is short or long-term. You must put in the hours to create and then rest.
But this is not new to us. We always lived like that. Farmers worked from dawn to dusk between spring and late autumn, then rested during winter.
Men went to war, and upon return, they rested. Hunters rested between two kills. Project workers take time off between two large projects. Soldiers rest between two missions.
Macro balance is associated with high achievement and downtime within a certain period. Rest is required between two high-intensity activities to recover and not burn out. It is all about periodic high levels of focus and balance over life.
Micro balance is what we try to achieve today. In Hungary, we have an old song from the communism, the lyrics go like this: 8h work, 8h rest, 8h fun. Now I have no problem with that, but we all know the result of this approach. Everyone is average, and there is no high performance. It suits billions of people, and nothing is wrong with it. But perhaps they shouldn't expect the same level of success as the macro balancers.
Micro balance is all about creating balance on a daily basis. Literally, do your job, make sure you get enough rest and enjoy life. We are taken back to communism.
Here is the kicker, though. We got confused again. We try to mix and match, and we burn out. We either:
Go from one high-intensity activity without a break
Trying to keep the macro balance but missing one or two of the elements (8h work, 8h rest, 8h fun) and life become purposeless or joyless
Want micro balance with the success of macro balance and get frustrated and demotivated when we don't get it
Unfortunately, I see the latter way too often due to our misunderstanding of balance. I see people running home because they were told to do their job and leave on time, but when they get home, there is no fun (whatever fun means to you). Instead, they numb themselves with things and go to bed. Now that is the perfect way to burn out. Boredom, joylessness, loneliness, and purposeless existence are some of the pillars of burnout that nobody talks about.
This is why you see, especially with men, when they lose other areas of their lives, they go full-on focusing on their job or creating/inventing things. They understand that the balance is temporarily upset, and it is the perfect time to refocus their time. They are not going to run home and sit on the couch. They will invest their energy and make something good out of it, eventually restoring the balance.
I had a coaching client who have fallen into this. He was working halfheartedly on his company, which made him miserable. Had no relationships and practised fake fun with fake friends, and his sleep was a mess. It was the constant whining. Three years later, he still distracts himself with fake stuff and posts motivational quotes online. At some point, he will have to put in the work and address what is missing instead of playing Peter Pan. At some point, I was like, "Dude, your life is empty of course you feel like this."