We prefer to talk about life domain harmony rather than ‘work/life balance’ because the latter term suggests that there are only two domains in life that are in opposition, and that ‘work’ is somehow different from ‘life’. Talk of balance also suggests that an equilibrium between the two life domains is optimal. However, in reality, many people have a natural tendency to focus on certain roles, or they shift their focus depending on their life stage (eg, people in their early 20s might focus on their work role, while young parents may put an emphasis on their caring role).
Based on our research and experience, we propose that, as long as your psychological needs are satisfied to a certain degree in any of the roles you have, you are fine. For instance, if you have a rather boring job that provides few opportunities to feel competent and have mastery experiences, you may be able to compensate and satisfy your need for mastery by engaging in a challenging hobby (eg, learning a new language, playing an instrument, or organising a big event for your sports club). Similarly, if your personal life is lacking in social connections, you might be able to satisfy that need via a job that offers you possibilities to truly connect with colleagues and clients. The important point is that it doesn’t matter how much each domain of your life contributes to your needs, as long as your needs are somehow met by one or more of all the different roles you play in life.