Move your focus to work-life integration rather than balance

Business man working at a laptop on the beach

© Tweeter Linder 2017 – All rights reserved. Photo by iStock.

The value of reaching a healthy balance between professional and private life is well documented. Often referred to as “work-life balance”. But striving for a balance between two perceived opposites might send you down the worng avenue. Challenge yourself and look at what a great work-life integration could look like.

The limitations of the work-life balance perspective

The work-life balance dilemma is multi-faceted. Work has become less tied to a place where we work. Work has become less tied to a window of time when we are working. These two aspects of flexible work have made borderlines to private life blurred. A reality where we can increase work outside office hours as well as increase private activities on office hours.

There are reasons to challenge a goal to balance between two perceived opposites.

  • More people have an opportunity to work with what they love.
  • More professional roles are dependent about us being passionate about what we do at work.
  • The outlook for small business is improving, and passion is a prerequisite for any entrepreneur.
  • The option of accepting a great salary for a job you did not love is an option fading away.

With these changes in the market place a better aim to pursue is to achieve a great work-life integration

More aspire to work with what they love

With work playing such a significant part of our lives we have the choice to make it something great.

We are more attractive to employers when we work with what we love. Your odds of being hired improve when you are excited and fired up around a work opportunity.

We achieve better results if we work with what we love. Not every day but over a longer period of time. And we get more done in any given time slot. By itself contributing to an opportunity for more private time.

We get more satisfaction from work when we work with what we love. And we try harder and improve faster when we act with both brain and heart.

So the real challenge comes down to defining and articulating what we love to do. And to figure out where opportunities and passions meet. It is not bad to love what you do and work.

The fluid borderline between work and private life

Even so our private life off work is most important for the majority of us. We want to enjoy living a good life. A life where we after working hard can play hard, and vice versa.

On a daily basis we need to manage the fluid borderlines between professional and private life.  When work is not tied to a place nor a time anymore. And with the 24/7 opportunity to stay connected with work we need great routines.

Routines for what is acceptable and not by you and your family. In which situations is work at home OK. Do you want workations to play a role in our life. Which private priorities can you attend if accessible when work demand. And finally how do you, your manager and your company agree on the norm to stick to.

Integrating two halves rather than balancing two parts

When looking at the two aspects as great parts, rather than a positive and a negative you are off to a great start. Two great parts where your job is to make sure they fit together, in the short and a longer term perspective.

The opportunity to maximize our potential in life start by building from great parts. A reality putting a greater responsibility on us to define both the parts and how to put them together.

And a challenge growing in complexity when you add family members to your privet half. Not setting expectations it will be easy, but a rewarding journey worth pursuing. And one in the category better half full than half empty.

Good questions to ask yourself

  1. What do I love to work with today – look for reasons why your profession, employer and role remain relevant.
  2. What would be my dream role if I could work with what I love – a reality that might have changed since you selected career.
  3. What does it take to make a career move towards what I love – pursuing dreams come at a price.
  4. Can I expect the same standard of living by working with I love – a fired up heart might come at the price of a lighter purse.
  5. Will my dreams force me to move from employed to entrepreneur – not all dreams jobs come ready made.
  6. Which borderlines do my private life put on my professional options – Never put your family at risk. They are an essential part of the integration aspiration to.

Additional reading suggestions 

This blogpost was inspired by a conversation with RS on what might be a more relevant reality for millennials than what has been relevant for their parents.

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