When it comes to passion-driven work, a purpose-fueled life, and even maximizing our productivity, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by trying to balance it all.
But what if you didn’t have to?
The word “balance” suggests that certain things need to offset others. That we need to compromise on the good and embrace the bad in order to feel fulfilled. That we should strive for equanimity, and if we give too much or get too little, we’ve failed. That any nudge in either direction sends us into crisis.
Trying to maintain balance can lead to burnout – and likely won’t get you closer to the things you want more of.
So, what if we took a different approach?
Work-life integration is a discipline of discerning the degree of importance—of the things we focus on, what we spend our time doing, and what we’re working towards. It’s a practice of work and life that play off each other to generate more possibility—not simply maintaining the status quo of equal-parts attention.
Instead of pouring our energy into maintaining equilibrium, let’s focus on which factors create the most fulfillment, and prioritize those. Consider these factors when it comes to creating fulfilment in work and life:
When do you feel most yourself? Fulfillment comes from being able to contribute and experiencing a sense of belonging. In order for these things to happen, you have to be able to show up authentically. Rather than trying on different personas in different contexts, surround yourself with people and organizations that take into account your whole human, so you can be 100% yourself 100% of the time.
Your values are how you do the things you do. They represent what is important to you. Identify and define your core values, especially what they look like in practice. Being in alignment with your core values automatically creates the experience you want to have—whether it’s at work or at home.
Oftentimes, we use this word incorrectly by making it plural (Greg Mckeown speaks to this in his book, Essentialism). If you’re struggling to balance everything, you’re likely assigning the same degree of importance to too many different tasks. Step back and consider what is the ONE most important thing you want to focus on, the ONE problem you want to solve, the ONE thing that will make you feel fulfilled today—and do that.
If nothing else, leave with this: you get to choose. You get to decide what your schedule looks like, who you spend your time with, and what’s included (and better yet—what’s not included) in the life you want. And you don’t need to rob yourself of this choice by putting “balance” before fulfillment.