Aim for Work-Life Integration over Balance

-There is no such thing as work-life balance. The balance has to be within you.-

Ever since I began my career, I have heard and seen stories of struggle with workers, educators, and leaders striving for the abstract idea of “work and life balance.”

When people aim to reach this lofty goal of balance and do not reach it, they can feel filled with shame and guilt. They ask themselves questions like, “Am I a good enough mother, father, husband, wife, family member, or friend?” “Am I spending enough time or am I spending too much time at work?” “What do people think of me?”

I often wonder where this idea of balance came from and who put this into our heads? This may come as a shock to you, but there is not a scale out there that is tracking our journeys to balance because, in my opinion, real balance does not exist.

We may have this visual in our heads of what balance looks like, but that picture changes day-to-day based on demands placed upon us. Rather than striving for balance, what if we strive for a work and life integration? A life where our hobbies, career, family, friends and personal life are working together, rather than pulling us apart? Subsequently, what if we then chose the degree of work and life integration that we are okay with? I believe everyone should do what is important to them (whatever that is) and to integrate these items into their lives as desired, while not worrying what anyone else thinks.

No one can tell you what is best for you. Only you can figure that out; You are the one living and feeling the pulse of your life. You will adjust your integration levels naturally as your life changes with work, family, and beyond. Do not shoot for a perfect formula or feel pressure to do so. After all, we are simply humans doing the best we can living without a written guide to follow, so let’s follow our intuition.

Having said this, we do not have to have it all figured out. We just have to do whatever it is that makes each of us happy in all areas of our lives while giving ourselves grace along the way. Integrate what YOU want to integrate into your life. Then, choose the level at which you want to incorporate the different puzzle pieces. Leave the pressures behind to follow an ordained path set before us.

Be you and own YOUR life.

Kara Welty

 

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