I’m sitting in a coffee shop right now eavesdropping on a conversation as I’m writing this…
“I just want me some work-life balance.”
She was nearly in tears as she was talking to friends.
“Isn’t everybody? I mean, this is the goal, right? You let me know when you get it.”
It’s like watching a train wreck. It’s painful, but I can’t break my attention.
Apparently, nobody else can either. Work-life balance seems to be the center of public attention.
After all, if you google “Work-Life Balance,” you’ll likely get over 125,000,000+ misguided results.
Here’s a quote from a relatively new scholarly article that is being passed around the interwebs right now as we speak:
“On the contrary, individuals who do not find a healthy balance between work and life experience conflict between work and personal commitments, known as work-life conflict. These individuals may have to forgo dedicating time to life in order to fulfill work responsibilities or vice versa.”
Did every single one of those people sharing this out there gloss right over the fact that life doesn’t stop when you’re at work? Furthermore, it doesn’t change in reverse – with most businesses, 24/7 work doesn’t stop with your life either.
Why do we think that life has to be separate from work?
Everyone knows it’s not.
The things happening outside your job and your work drastically affect other areas of your life. How much you get paid, where you work, who you work with all impact the non-work areas of your life.
If my kid almost died and is en route to the hospital and I have a job that won’t let me go and requires me to be there, you can’t say one doesn’t impact another (yes, that actually happened and yes that caused me to give my notice).
So, the question then becomes:
Why are we working so hard to separate this out?
Here’s what is replacing it in pop culture.
It’s the thought that we look more holistically at our lives instead of trying to part the waves between “work” and “life.”
The concept was first introduced a few years back and now already has 9 million results on google and articles on Forbes disputing other previous articles on Forbes like the “20 Jobs With the Best Work-Life Balance” (according to this article and Glass Door, just become an SEO specialist and you have instantly a better life).
But like many other things that we think we want as a society, I think we’ve been collectively encouraged to think about this wrong.
One of my favorite Mark Twain quotes:
“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.”
Ok, so let’s evaluate this really quick.
“Work-life integration” is rapidly replacing “work-life balance.”
It’s easy to see why “work-life balance” was a myth from the start, but what about the integration part? Is that actually a good thing?
Well, apparently 70% of people now have a work spouse according to a poll by captivate (ask a real spouse how they feel about that to determine if that’s bad or good).
Also, we know that technology availability has made it more difficult for us to turn off. So, if we integrate our life, are we really allowing the work part of our lives to simply take over?
I believe that the thought process behind integration is a better approach because it forces us to look at our lives more holistically.
I choose to take it one step further by asking a different question. Rather than, “How can I integrate my life with my work?”
The question that calibrates and influences almost all of the choices that I make is:
“How do you want to spend your time?”
Think about it.
The average person needs 8 hours of sleep each night, which leaves 16 waking hours a day, or 5,840 hours a year.
This means that every year, I have less than 6,000 hours of time. My personal goal is to align as many of those as possible with activities that make me feel happy and excited.
Note: The average human believes that “happy” means devoid of stress, but in many cases we see that, that isn’t the case and people who are happier more consistently don’t have jobs or lives that are absent of stress.
Case in point: teaching my kids new skills is something that is incredibly stressful in the moment, but it also makes me happier day to day, because it is also incredibly rewarding.
Also, if I don’t get to do it, it makes me unhappy!
Over the last couple of days, I’ve given you several free guides:
I’d like to do something even more for you.
I’d like to invite you to a brand new online mini-class to learn about how to pursue your career in a different way, one where you put happiness first.
It’s a class that we’ve never given before.
One that helps you understand how to think about your career and what you really want to do differently.
One warning, the stuff we teach isn’t easy. It’s much easier to keep looking for the holy grail that is work-life balance. But it is possible and it is worth it!
Here’s just a tiny bit of what we will cover:
- What you need (and what you don’t need) to create a career that is fulfilling for you!
- What research have you been ignoring in your career and job search (but probably didn’t know you were)
- How to prioritize your strengths so you can learn how to choose which ones you should be using in your career.
- Why “context” is so important when learning to use your signature strengths in your career and your job search.
- How to set yourself up so the interview is a shoe in! (and after you get the job, you’re more likely to get a promotion right away!)
- Give you a sneak peak into our premium program career change bootcamp.
Check it out! It's just what you need to get you closer to the work-life integration that I told you about earlier!