Why Work-Life Integration Makes More Sense than Balance…

Work-life balance is a very hot topic in today’s world, isn’t it?  I often hear from friends that they want more balance in their lives. I used to say this as well.  

Over the years, I’ve become an advocate for creating more work-life integration over work-life balance.  

Why? 

If you think about it, we all have 24 hours in a day.  We hopefully spend 7-8 of those hours sleeping.  If we spend a minimum of 8 hours a day working, plus commute time, plus time for errands, that ultimately leaves us with around 4-6 hours per day for “me time.” 

To me, this means that true balance doesn’t really exist, because when people say they want more work-life balance, they are actually referring to wanting more personal time.   I’ve never heard someone refer to finding balance as a need to find more time for their work. 

Thus, I define: 

Balance = creating more time for me

And the desire to “create more time for me” is fueled by the belief that balance will create more fulfillment and joy in our lives. 

But I’d like to propose that while balance may result in some happiness, finding work-life integration will ultimately create real fulfillment. 

Integration = living more of me all the time

In other words, when we can live our strengths, our passions and our values at work – when we feel connected to the greater purpose and mission of our organizations – then, we have figured out how to integrate who we really are and what matters to us in every environment we are in. 

Whether at home or at the office (or job site), we have incorporated our work and our lives into one conglomerate, a fulfilling and meaningful purpose.  

Research by the Barrett Values Centre supports that when an employee can live 4 of more of their values at work, they become an engaged employee. Values alignment alone can therefore greatly increase how we feel about our jobs. 

When we’re not engaged at work, this spills over into our personal lives.  When we’re not aligned, not purposeful, and not fulfilled, this is when we crave more “balance.” 

In my experience, I have never met someone who has achieved integration that wishes they had more balance in their lives. 

So, how do we begin to live more of our strengths, passions and values at work and at home? 

First, we have to get clear on what these are.  I’d like to encourage you to take some time to self-reflect, ask trusted friends for insights, and dig deeper to identify these three things for yourself.   

I’d also like to suggest a free resource that can help you get started by defining your top priority values, i.e. what matters most to you at this time in your life:

Pace offers complimentary Personal Values Assessments, in partnership with the Barrett Values Centre.  It’s a 5-minute survey and once completed, your report will be emailed directly to you and will provide a wealth of information about what drives you.  

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments as well – what do you think about work-life balance vs. integration? 

 

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