Recently, a colleague wrote about the common phrase of “work life balance”. And then another colleague added that this common phrase should be changed to “work life integration.” This concerned me, as it prompted me to wonder what’s behind society and leaders allowing the move from “work life balance” to “work life integration”. In my practice, clients are teaching me a lot: if clients allow their work to integrate their life by not setting boundaries, not making purposeful & prioritized decisions, then the client is more apt to struggle with meeting their personal goals. If a client embraces and communicates their priorities and purpose, I find that the client can begin to establish new practices & habits, balance their life better, and achieve personal goals that previously seemed unachievable. Whether it is work life balance or work life integration, aren’t we better served by embracing life first?
I now am completely questioning this common phrase: “work life balance.” Throughout a person’s life, one spends approximately 15-25% of his/her time at work. Most of one’s time is spent sleeping, eating, relaxing, and enjoying life’s pleasures and treasures. Even though the globe is more connected than ever and working 24 hours/day 5 to 7 days/week, that still doesn’t give reason for work to integrate your personal life.
I recommend we change it up. How about we talk about balancing life into work and integrating life with work? Let’s rename it from work life balance or work life integration to Your Life’s Work. To make this shift, try answering these questions: What are your most important life goals? What are your goals for 2012 and 2013? What are your goals for the remainder of this year? What do you want employees at work to truly know about you? Does your boss understand your personal goals and how important they are to you?
As you answered those questions, what did you notice? Are your work goals just one piece of your overall personal or life goals? If they are, then you are well on your way to Your Life’s Work. If you noticed that your goals are more work focused, are you ready to be introspective and define who you want to be, what steps you need to take to develop your plan, and how you want to be remembered?
So, how can you change it up and move from struggling with work life balance to developing Your Life’s Work?
Talk & Ask. Who can you talk to about your life’s goals, priorities, and purpose? Who will support you along your journey in accomplishing Your Life’s Work? Pick someone who truly listens to your plan, asks insightful questions, and will support you. A good first step is to talk about and plan your personal time as rigorously as your work schedule.
Write. Numerous studies have indicated that individuals, sports teams, and companies who write down their goals are much more apt to achieve them than those who don’t write them. Keep in mind that not all goals are met, so be ready to expect that. In baseball, an excellent batting average is above .350. In football, a quarterback is superb when he connects on 75% of his passing attempts. In basketball, the best free throw shooters hit more than 85% of their free throws. Teams who win 75% of their games position themselves to win championships. Expect progress, not perfection.
Share. Let others know about your plans, your priorities, and Your Life’s Work. When others know a bit more about what’s behind your actions and decisions, they might be more apt to support you. For example, let your boss know that you want to take your children’s birthdays off annually, because you want the kids to know that one day a year, they are #1. That decision and action may also send a signal to your boss that you can prioritize highly important things in Your Life’s Work.
Display. If a company can post their strategy on their website and on employee bulletin boards, then where can you post your personal goals that will support Your Life’s Work? I post mine annual goals by our personal calendar in the kitchen and also carry it in my wallet. It is always present, to help keep me focused on My Life’s Work.
Go. Take the first step toward Your Life’s Plan. Progress begins with that first step, embracing the plan, & doing it.
Let Your Life’s Work begin. Talk to someone today, so you can display and start Your Life’s Work tomorrow.