No Work/Life Balance? Try This Instead

The concept of work/life balance has become clichéd. It's time to offer a different approach.

Is there really such a thing as work/life balance?

Let’s start with the literal definition: The word balance implies harmony or equilibrium among opposing elements. Imagine what this looks like on a scale — work and life are not only separated, but at opposite ends of the spectrum.

This common view of work/life balance supports the idea that work and life are separated. And our environments highlight this perception of work/life separation since most people leave their home to go to work each day.

This separation creates an illusion that our work and personal lives are two different worlds and should be treated as such.

Now we must be two different people: personal “me” and work “me.”

The illusion of separation pulls us apart.

Now consider a different picture. Visualize life as a big circle with work as one of many different circles contained within it; the various activities of our lives are constantly flowing in and out of these circles. Now work and life are not opposing elements; instead, work is one element in a much larger life.

A true balance between work and life comes with knowing that all our life activities are integrated, not separated.

The answer to finding better work/life integration is to find the right blend between all our life activities — regardless of where and when they occur.

Here are some helpful tips:

Schedule your time. Using a calendar to manage both professional and personal priorities helps. Putting events on a calendar solidifies intentions and keeps us, and others, accountable for follow through. It helps us to visually organize our time and prioritize our responsibilities. Besides, once we’ve written something down, we don’t need to remember it, which frees up brain space for more creativity.

Cultivate and nurture professional relationships. There will always be boundaries between work and personal life, but if we seek to make the lines as thin as possible, we can find powerful friendships at work. Keep in mind that our workmates and families see us at our best and worst—but workmates may see different sides than our own families do, leading to a good perspective on our behavior that we might not receive from our families.

Focus on what you love. It may sound obvious, but if we focus the majority of our energy on what we love about work, we will feel better about it. Focusing on things we don’t like just brings more frustration. We can use our power of choice to keep our thoughts and actions moving in the direction of positivity and productivity at work and stay fueled forward.

Take vacation days. After reading the statistic that the average US employee only takes half of his or her eligible vacation, we already know that people aren’t taking time off to reboot and refresh. We can use our time off to come back to work with a fresh perspective and a new attitude. Vacations allow us to get back some much-needed peace and quiet and spend valuable time with friends and family. Go on — you deserve it!

Michael Thomas Sunnarborg is a career transition coach, author, and storyteller. Learn more about how to find a better integration between work and life in Balancing Work, Relationships & Life in Three Simple Steps or another book from Michael’s collection at

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Article image: Michael Thomas Sunnarborg

Originally published at

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