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  • Writer's pictureSusan & Renée

What Does Work Life Balance Mean Now?

Work-life balance is something that has been talked about for a long time. It has become a particularly hot topic now that so many people are working from home which has blurred professional and personal boundaries.


The word "balance" implies a scale. On one side of the scale is all the work we do. On the other side, are all the activities we do after work. In today’s world, we actually think the phrase "work-life integration" is more accurate. Instead of a scale, think of a tapestry. There are not two distinct sides, but rather our work and personal lives are interwoven.

Successful integration means there is a smooth flow between our work and personal lives.


Like beautiful tapestries, there is no one pattern that results in successful integration. There are countless varieties of patterns.  Each one will reflect the myriad of situations that we find ourselves in. What’s important is that you consciously decide on the pattern that works for you.  


Here are some steps you can use to determine how to weave your integration pattern.


Adopt a developmental perspective: What work life integration or balance looks like now is not the way it is going to look in 5 or 10 years. If you currently have young kids at home, you will be integrating time for yourself in small increments. As they get older, you will have larger chunks of time at your disposal.


Assess your values and purpose: Tons of research shows that a purpose filled life is the key to a happy life. Take some time to think about your values and purpose. Are you taking steps to weave actions into your life that reflect your values and purpose?


Determine your ratio: Some people may be energized by work and want to devote more time to it. They may create a 60/40 balance, spending more time at work than on personal pursuits. Another person may want the exact opposite ratio. Determining your ratio can provide a benchmark for you to evaluate your life patterns at any given time.


Ask yourself the end of life question on a regular basis: This sounds like it could be a depressing practice. However, people who consistently report high levels of happiness reflect on this question periodically. What is this question?


At the end of your life when you look back, what do you want to say about how you spent your time and energy? 


Asking yourself this question can make the things that are important come into sharp focus. It can also make issues that seem important in the moment fall away into insignificance. Reflecting in this way can help guide you as you work to achieve work life integration.


Be incremental: Work life integration takes some intentionality and practice. If you feel out of balance, pick one thing that you want to change. Implement it and then move on to the next one. This type of incremental process leads to more long lasting change.


Take a step back and look at the big picture: You may not achieve work life balance in a particular day. But, when you pull back and reflect, is your life integrated? For example, if you have a job that requires a longer day you might create balance by scheduling a day off on a regular basis for self care or to surprise your child by eating lunch with them at school. Balance can be achieved in a variety of ways and what works for one person may be very different than what works for another.


Following these practices will help you determine if the patterns you have created in your life are leading to beautiful integration or if you have to get back to your life loom and weave a different pattern.


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