From Duncan Sabien:
This morning, a friend of mine referred to his "work-life balance" and then grimaced at himself, and noted that he doesn't really like that term.
(As far as I can tell, he doesn't like it because his work is important to him, and is part of being alive, and his non-work life isn't some fundamentally different kind of thing.)
This led me to the mental distinction between one's directly valuable life experiences, and one's indirectly/instrumentally valuable ones.
Like, there are many fewer layers involved when you, say, snuggle up to someone you love, or pop a delicious food in your mouth, or bounce on a trampoline. There's a very short, direct path between the action and the reward; it's just straightforwardly close to your values and the things which bring you joy and fulfillment.
Whereas if you're good at your work and you think that your job is important, there's an intervening layer or three—I'm doing X because it unblocks Y, and that will lead to Z, and Z is good for the world in ways I care about, and also it earns me $ and I can spend $ on stuff...
I think it's less about "work-life balance" and more about the ratio of direct vs. indirect value. "How many of the things that I'm doing pay off directly, versus how many of them are knocking over dominos that eventually lead to the payoffs I'm seeking?"
(And how close is that ratio to one which I will actually find sustainable and enjoyable and healthy.)
This, to me, is a distinction that cuts closer to the true joints of reality than the arbitrary categories of "work" and "everything else." As a single easy example, this also applies to the balance, in one's relationships, between straightforwardly valuable interactions with people you enjoy, and meta interactions/maintenance/laying the groundwork for the future.