I’ve been reading a lot lately about the idea of life integration vs trying to get to a “work-life” balance.
The argument is that balance is never possible because “life happens”, I’ll add that “work happens” is also true.
In our hard fought attempt to create balance we often find we are dropping the ball in one area or another to stay on top of our to do lists, calendar appointments, family obligations, personal wellness, etc.
Taking steps to make sure you take care of yourself so that you can create a more integrated life should take precedence. But after one business lunch after another, a quick grab at a drive through or skipping a meal to get to an appointment on time we often feel like its been weeks since we’ve sat own to a healthy meal.
If I try to take a full weekend off from work, I find I spend the rest of the week running behind and end up using the following weekend to catch up on work rather than relaxing or taking care of the stuff at home that needs to be taken care of.
So… what does life integration look like? Well I am sure it looks different for each of us and it is certainly going to have a different mix of parts depending on your age, family, and work responsibilities.
I will admit that for me integration is a bit easier at 58 that it was at 48 or 38. With no children at home and a retired spouse, there are many things that used to demand my time that I just don’t have to worry about anymore.
However, as the owner of a vital and growing design firm, I have many more people who depend on me and my vitality and business development strengths.
Also, since my wife retired there is pressure to travel more, be more schedule flexible and… oh yes, help plan and pay for our son’s wedding!
I am working on integration by attempting to work into my daily routine more movement (i.e. exercise) and better sleeping habits to make sure I am taking care of myself and stay sharp to face the challenges that roll into my line of sight on a daily basis.
I will schedule out several weeks at once so I can guard certain special event times and in the office times.
Occasionally, I will employ a little used tool in my arsenal, I just say no. Saying no can be a freeing experience. I had a conversation with a friend of mine who just turned 60 this week. He told me that if he doesn’t want to do something or that it conflicts with something important to him, he now says no with no excuses. No means I am choosing not to do that thing or participate because its my choice to say no, no excuses or apologies. He’s tougher than I am!
This past weekend I did check out from work almost completely, attending a men’s retreat without my laptop along. The good news is I tried not think about work for three days. It’s too bad they have improved the cell service in Deerwood, as now our phones work as well there as they do in town so that unless I were to throw the phone into the lake and still have a thread back to the real world reminding me of work related things!
Our focus for the weekend was integrating compassion into our lives. Oh great, one more thing to do daily…but compassion isn’t so much a task as it is an overlay. Reminding yourself that others have a lot going on in their lives, see above, and working with them in an honest and empathetic way helps bring integration of self into the daily activities that keep us going every minute.
Being fully present wherever you are, and whoever you are with, is what matters. Love your whole life, do the things you are passionate about and overcome the feeling that “I’m faking it” or that “this will never be right”. Its right for you and you are authentically doing what you love and being with people that are important to you, family, friends, clients, and associates.
So forget balance, be present and love your whole life, integrating it into a single whole you!
Hey… I would love to see you! Give me a call to schedule a meeting a couple of weeks out! We can find a healthy fun place to grab a bite to eat and to catch up on life!
-Tom Wasmoen, CEO/Managing Principal