Forget Work-Life Balance — Think Work-Life Integration
Work-life is about more than striving for balance; it is about healthy integration of everything we do. As career professionals, we help clients take a whole person approach, creating synergies between all areas that define “life” — work, home, community, learning, personal well-being, and health.
More and more, we are finding that the perfect work-life balance rarely exists. We find ourselves juggling multiple responsibilities and often our work lives blend in with our personal lives. The term “work-life balance” implies that “work” and “life” are two separate things. We are starting to realize that the world that we are living in is forcing us to blend rather than balance. Perhaps now is the time to fully embrace work-life integration.
It is important for your clients to consider the different areas of their lives holistically, set priorities, explore creative alternatives for managing work and life, and integrate compromise. So, instead of trying to help clients find the elusive work-life balance, suggest that they consider working towards a more harmonious work-life integration.
We know that whether we call it balance or integration, for many it’s a constant struggle. For those individuals, a good place to start may be with setting healthy boundaries. No matter what you believe, as a career development practitioner, you must embrace a healthy lifestyle in order to act as a positive role model for your clients.
As a careerpro, you want to give your clients the best chance for success. The Canadian Mental Health Association provides resources to help balance priorities and maintain optimum mental health. They deal with mental health and depression in the workplace, providing sage information for employees and employers. Here is a simple quiz that you can take to assess your own state of balance. You may also want to refer the quiz to clients when needed.
Career Professionals of Canada’s Experienced Practitioners Mastermind Group compiled a wealth of information related to work-life balance. The following tips will enhance your understanding of the topic and help you in your day-to-day work with clients.
Invest in the Life You Want
Author and speaker Nigel Marsh says that it is up to individuals to take control and responsibility for the type of lives they want to lead. Work-life balance is too important to be left in the hands of an employer. In a ten-minute TED Talk, Marsh lays out an ideal day balanced between family time, personal time, and productivity. By taking small steps, clients can make work-life balance a reality.
Start With the 1% Rule
Canadian consultancy roadSIGNS offers the 1% Rule, which simply suggests that every person take a minimum of 1% of every day for Me First: this equates to exactly 14.4 minutes. For practitioners and clients who struggle with time management due to their busy lives, this can be a great first step towards a regular practice of self-care.
Try Mindful Meditation
Scientific studies have shown significant positive effects of mindfulness on reducing stress, anxiety, depression, and pain. In a ten-minute video, Andy Puddicombe suggests that all it takes is 10 mindful minutes a day. Mindfulness with Jon Kabat-Zinn is a one-hour presentation about mindfulness that includes a guided meditation. If you are not familiar with mindful meditation, take the time to watch the shorter video, then do the guided meditation exercise and feel the transformative healing that mindful meditation brings.
Take a Break
Keeping your nose to the grindstone — or your fingers on the keyboard and your eyes on the screen — may not be all that it’s cracked up to be. Studies show that taking regular breaks from mental tasks improves productivity and creativity. Gain a fresh perspective on the benefits of work breaks by reading this New York times article by Phyllis Korkki. Learn how taking breaks can alleviate stress and exhaustion, and enable you and your clients to achieve more in less time.
Align Work with Values
Your values determine your priorities and often help you determine if your life is turning out the way you want it to. If you live your life according to your values, then you will undoubtedly be successful. And, if you want to feel fulfilled and satisfied at work, it is best to pursue employment that is directly aligned with your value system. MindTools delves into this topic by helping people determine their values and decide what is most important in life.
Apply the Wheel of Life®
The Wheel of Life ®, commonly used by life coaches, helps clients consider each area of their life and determine what’s off balance. The Wheel of Life is powerful because it gives a visual comparison of a person’s current life situation against their ideal life scenario. Study the diagram and learn how to use this tool in your work with clients.
Career Professionals of Canada’s new Work-Life Strategist Certificate Course will provide you with a wide range of evidence-based models, theories, and philosophies that inform the work we do. If you provide clients with advice related to wellness, life-skills, and career management, you can work towards your Certified Work-Life Strategist (CWS) credential.
Sharon Graham is founder and executive director of Career Professionals of Canada. Committed to setting the standard for excellence in the career development profession, Sharon has authored top selling paperback publications and textbooks, and has established a range of certification, professional development, community development, mentoring, and award programs. As executive director of CPC, she provides foresight and leadership within the sector and ensures that the mandate of this national organization is upheld with integrity.