I wrote a post about being a High-Achiever AND being kind to yourself the other day on my Facebook profile and got an important question about what work life balance would look like.
See, what we have learned and been told about the work life balance meaning as such is, that it must be a 50:50 split, it must be in perfect symmetry – just like a scale at balance. This is an ideal scenario that can be achieved but is oftentimes out of reach for most of us.
Why? Because living life 50% of the time and working 50% of the time means that there need to be a few things set up for you to be able to do so:
💫 Finances in check
💫 Business / Company is running fairly off-hand
💫 Homelife is organized and peaceful
💫 You have a lot of extra support in both life & business
There are a lot of other factors that would come in to make a work-life balance truly …balanced. Hence why I don’t like to use the word balance and don’t actually believe we should strive for it.
Looking a little deeper, the work life balance meaning also comes with conversations around privilege, the systems we all operate in, and more – and that’s a whole book on itself. That’s why I truly believe that a mindful work life integration should be the goal.
This is what I work with my clients on. The goal is to design a lifestyle that you love and it is rewarding for you to live and you integrate your work/business as part of this lifestyle, which is also as fulfilling as possible.
Work and business are often not as fulfilling as we are told it should be and the whole “Make your passion your business and make money with it”-movement is another different can of worms to open from the perspective of privilege – because who are the people who really can make their passion their business, without having to work in a job or two on the side (or the other way around), having access to money from their spouse, family members or loans that they can use (or even credit cards) and build their passion-business along the way? Answering these types of questions will quickly show you that we always come back to the same group of people who have the privilege to do so.
Since we are not here to talk about that today, I’d love to go further into the notion of where we are headed as a society in my eyes, especially entrepreneurs and business owners.
Why work life balance is a myth
I have mentioned a few reasons above in the intro but I want to go a little deeper into why I don’t believe in balance for most of the things in our life, but particularly work-life balance.
In my 20+ years in this field of work I have never seen or experienced true balance, per definition – may it be project- and events management, process management, team building & leadership or any of the other areas I am covering. That surely doesn’t mean it can not exist. It simply means that it is an ideal to strive for, and ideals are hardly achievable nor sustainable.
Since I am teaching sustainable business growth and lifestyle design, it is important for me that my clients understand that there will be times where work takes over more of their lives, and other times they may think “something is off” because there is just not a lot of work to do.
Here is how I look at ‘balance’: I see it like the ocean. There’s the ebb and there is flow. This is true for everything in life and therefore in business. If we want to take this concept a little further we look at what causes ebb & flow and zoom out to see the moon. And just like the moon, we are living in seasons, too.
So far, the hustle ‘n grind culture, the “do more, be better, work harder, make it faster” culture has taught us that seasons don’t matter – you have to push through.
But we have more awareness now, gaining more consciousness around what it means to be human – and that also means to acknowledge, accept and embrace all of us.
Toxic productivity, the constant need to push no matter what, is a byproduct of the systems that have kept us under the belief that if we don’t produce, we ain’t worth anything.
That is NOT true. The truth is, we are worthy, enough, and wonderful just by being. Yes, it’s hard to grasp this concept, I understand. I sometimes still struggle, too, to let it sink in. And I do my best to do it anyway. Simply because I know there’s something better for us out there.
Balance is not the answer to this though, because it is another “ideal”, it is simply the other side of the hustle ‘n grind coin. If we can not push push push at all times, we won#t be able to chill & be balanced at all times either. And here we are, back to the ebb and flow. To the seasons of life, that is not balanced by the very nature of the meaning of the word:
each of the four divisions of the year (spring, summer, autumn, and winter) is marked by particular weather patterns and daylight hours, resulting from the earth’s changing position with regard to the sun.
(source: Oxford Languages)
A new area of work- & lifestyle
So if balance is not achievable for most of us, what is?
I truly believe that it is time for a new era of work- & lifestyle. I have been talking about this for years, how the current work culture we are perpetuating is not working for us anymore – and we have to bring in change!
Well, I am a pioneer and this is what my work is all about, so let me share what I see for many of us, especially the people who run a business, are entrepreneurs and/or work remotely for a company.
The word you may have looked for to describe what you are craving is this:
work life integration.
The reason why we have not gotten any language for this yet is that it will obviously bring quite the disruption into the way of how we think about and look at work – and there are definitely quite a few people who wouldn’t want that to happen.
What makes work life integration different from balance?
It takes into consideration the ebb & flow, the seasons of life and it accounts for you as a human – not a perfect machine that can split tasks into 50/50. Integration means that one of the two (your lifestyle) is the base, the foundation you built while the other (work) is integrating into your life.
The goal is to “fit” your work into the way you live. Whether that is physically, mentally, energetically, or on a soul level. The work you do is not apart from your life but it integrates into who you are and how you choose to live your life.
That also means there will be times when work may take more time out of your life and again, other times where it doesn’t. And there are also times when life may need more of you and work will have to make space.
Integration means that this is a fluid ongoing process that you can adjust depending on the season your life is in as well as the priorities and values you set for yourself in this season.
I’d love to know:
1| What do you think of the work life balance meaning?
2| Is this an important distinction for you to make?
3| And how do you plan to integrate your work into your life?
Leave me comments down below!