If I had a dollar for every time I saw the words work-life integration or life-work balance or some combination of the three words, I’d not be a rich woman, but I could probably toast with more than a few glasses of fine bubbly.
In all seriousness, these days, you can’t scroll your newsfeed or open your email without getting a big dollop of advice about creating a well-balanced life.
It’s a meaty topic.
Everyone has their own take on it.
It gets eyeballs and sometimes even comments.
And apparently, it’s not going out of style any time soon.
And it’s easy to see why.
Many of us were over-worked, under-nurtured, did too much juggling without enough satisfaction, and it all came to a head when the Covid pandemic found its way to our doors.
The neat and tidy house of cards that we were able to build came tumbling down and all bets were off.
The stress of work from home combined with 24-7 quarantine and possibly homeschooling too required the strength of Hercules. Reasonable demarcation between work and home disappeared and suddenly the pings, alarms, and beeps associated with email and texts were keeping us revved up when all we wanted to do was lie on the couch with a glass of chardonnay while wearing our sweats.
Both seemed wrong but then again both seemed right.
And now we find ourselves here, not quite “back to normal” (as if anyone knows what normal is right now), and many of us are not certain where our emphasis should be.
We want to get it right, I mean no one wants to work 24-7 but most of us don’t want to lounge on the sofa all day either.
What’s a person to do?
Here’s what I think:
The idea of life-work integration recognizes the need for a balanced and flexible approach to managing the normal demands of both personal and professional aspects of life. They should not conflict, and when they do, stress and confusion ensue.
A well-rounded life is multi-faceted, and, as we all know, priorities can shift as our circumstances change. Those that believe in life-work integration understand and respect this concept and see the ultimate blending of our personal and professional lives as the most sensible.
You can’t indulge your hobbies at the expense of your work, nor should you have to relinquish your personal interests because of your professional life, but there will be times when one aspect of your life plays a more prominent role.
Having a baby, dealing with a health crisis, and moving are all circumstances that may require extra time and focus. So too will “tax season,” a client deadline, an important proposal, or anything else that necessitates an all-out push to get the work done.
The key, of course, is having the flexibility to recognize and reorganize when extra time is needed in either aspect of your life.
As a rule, establishing boundaries can help define how, where, and when you work. These boundaries must be applicable in both segments of your life and should be recognized by friends and family, as much as by your team.
Self-care should no longer be relegated to those hours when you are clearly not at your best. We’ve come a long way from taking health and wellness for granted and now understand if our mind and body are not working optimally, nothing we do will be done as effectively as it could or should be.
We should not be defined by what we achieve at work, often at the expense of our personal life. Nor should we underperform at work and disappoint our team, clients, and ultimately ourselves.
If we look at things holistically, we should be able to successfully integrate and find balance in both aspects of our life. We have but one life after all, and we must be able to accommodate both.
Be the CEO of your life, work less, live more
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