5 things to remember in your pursuit of work-life balance
'Balance' is a myth because you can't serve two masters, so pursue 'integration' instead.
Fun, sun, travel, and laughter - I can’t think of anything more pleasing. On the other hand, if you are a driven person with clear ambitions and objectives, ticking the boxes as you attain career goals could be just as sweet.
I think we can all agree that uccess is subjective. Even two siblings that grow up in the same house, go to the same school and have similar experiences growing up, grow up to have different goals and ideas around what success means to them individually. That's why every individual carves out a path of least resistance to the things that matter to them most.
For centuries, successful people have been working hard to strike a healthy work-life balance: Parents seeking to spend enough time with their offspring, being there for all the significant moments and be home in time to sit together on the dinner table and later tuck their little ones in; Newlyweds on a mission to, against traffic and impossible deadlines, find quality time to build new memories; Single folk, who promised not to miss pizza night with friends so they can catch up on Game Of Thrones or watch an Arsenal match - all the while winning at work and steadily accomplishing career milestones.
I say it is all a myth becuase you can’t serve two masters.
So instead of pulling yourself in two different directions fighting to achieve a healthy work-life balance, stop , accept that a balance will be tricky to achieve if on the one side you are motivated by fear and on the other you are motivated by desire. How on earth will you reach an equilibrium if you are driven by two opposite forces.
I am not going to go into whether one should work to live instead of living to work. Rather, I’m going to share what I found far more effective and impactful than work-life balance. It is something I personally exercise in my own life. It is work-life integration and far easier and way more practical than the alternative. Work-life integration means unifying your work and your life in a way that they complement each other instead of competing with each other.
Here are five things you do to improve your work-life integration.
1 Don’t juggle, prioritise
When you have a lot to do, it is easy to get overwhelmed and when you are overwhelmed, it is very easy to drop balls. Don’t try to do everything all the once, clearly document all your responsibilities, then repeat the list, this time, in order of priority. My husband’s favourite quote by Mark Twain is “If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.” This quote has had such an impact on me that I incorporated it into the Elite Manifesto. My staff and I live by this principle.
2 Be flexible
Agility and nimbleness - these are not just words you hear in yoga class. They are very important words if you are going to enjoy a full life. Don’t deprive yourself of great opportunities or quick wins, who says you can’t complete that million-dollar proposal riding shotgun on your way to the comrade’s marathon?
3 Take it easy, nothing is cast in stone
As helpful as it is to keep a schedule, things rarely work out as initially planned. But this isn't always a bad thing. It is easy to lose your poise when things seem to fall by the wayside. Don’t let a little change of plans ruffle your feathers. It will work out if you remember the previous point which is to remain flexible.
Yesterday it was work-like balance. Today it is work-life integration. So who knows what methods we will be following a year from now in pursuit of happiness. One thing is certain, if you put what is valuable to you first and do what is necessary to support it, you’ll be ok. There's no need to get caught in the bustle of things. Take it easy.
5 Maintain healthy boundaries
The purpose of integration is not to blur the lines but rather to not have work stand in the way of life and life in the way of work. Find a happy medium and reflect regularly. Here is a fun exercise, try saying “bedroom” “boardroom” out loud really fast. In less than 2 seconds they become one thing don’t they? How is that for a tongue twister? But don’t let the same thing happen to your mind.
Integrating the two most significant parts of your existence is a momentous achievement, always keep in mind, the objective is harmony.