Work-life Integration: 3 Factors of Fulfillment (and Why Work-life Balance Isn’t Realistic)

These three things that will help you create work-life integration, so you don’t have to burn out trying to balance it all.

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.

Oof—sounds exhausting. 

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.

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres. We publish pieces written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Learn more or join us as a community member!
Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...

John M Lund Photography Inc/Getty Images
Work-Life Integration//

Work-Life Balance Doesn’t Exist. Aim for Work-Life Integration Instead.

by Elizabeth Yuko, Ph.D.

How to Create More Work/Life Balance to Help You Enjoy Life Without Burning Out

by Whitney Gordon-Mead, MSc

4 Ways to Shatter the Illusion of Work-Life Balance

by Sue Hawkes

Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

Thrive Global
People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.


We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.