“I don’t think of work as work and playing as playing. It’s all living.” Richard Branson

It’s vacation season and I’ve been involved in multiple conversations lately about “disconnecting.” Not only are we tied to our devices 24/7, we’re tied to work–more specifically, email. There’s something to be said for being able to power down and enjoy the present moment. But isn’t it also worth considering that we don’t live in a world anymore where “work-life balance” is a worthy goal? I find it impossible to separate my work from the rest of my life and the rest of my life from my work. It’s why I love what I do and at the same time, do what I love. 

“Work-Life Balance” implies that there’s work and then, there’s life. Consider that most Americans work a typical 8 hour work day which is about 1/3 of our waking hours. That’s not even touching on the time it takes to get prepared for work, to get to and from it and the extra time many of us actually spend on the job beyond the set hours. Add that up and the hours we spend that involve our work actually come closer to consuming 60% of the time we are awake.

If I’m going to do anything that accounts for such a precious amount of my life, I’m want to be sure it’s something that helps me grow as a person and that positively affects the lives of others around me. And instead of trying to balance the time I spend either working or living, I’d much rather focus on integrating the two.

Another implication of Work-Life Balance is that each should have an equal share of focus. But the “balance” in this instance should be less about keeping things equal or level and more about directing the appropriate amount of time to the areas in our life that need attention at that stage in our lives. Sometimes, work is going to take precedence and others, things outside of the job are going to need more attention. If we are constantly focused on keeping things level, think of the opportunities that would be missed all for the sake of normalcy. 

So today, I’m concentrating less on the ever elusive “Work-Life Balance” ideal and more on the quality of my focus for moments right in front of me–the here and now–no matter what part of my life they affect. Instead of “Work-Life Balance,” call it “Mindful Integration.”  Whatever you do, in that moment, do it well. Be fully present and make choices that will feed your soul and strengthen the world around you and then no matter what kind of balance you strike in your life, it will be the right one.  

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