Work-Life Balance vs Work-Life Integration

Setting boundaries that work for you

A few days ago I walked past the receptionist sporting a big grin. Her infectious smile turned the corners of my own mouth up as I asked with some anticipation what made her so happy. “I’m at work,” She says. “Hoogland is my second home and I feel so happy to be here”. She went on to describe how much she loves what she does, has been doing for over 17 years now, and how much purpose and joy she experiences on a daily basis, how much she hopes her children can have work like hers when they grow up.

I cannot remember the first time I heard the term ‘work-life balance’, and the importance of having it. Somehow, loved ones cajoled, I had to separate my personal life from my work life to be able to find balance.

This made me feel guilty, I have always thought that I fall short on that front. It was if I was failing in some inalienable truth that work and life should never mix.

From my earliest recollection my work was part of my life, not something separate. My personal and professional responsibilities blended like flour and water, each making the other able to be more.

The first time I read about the concept of Work-Life Integration the guilt of my inadequacy to keep work separate from the self, started to crumble. Not only did I start to feel more comfortable with it myself, but I felt a sense of joy rather than judgment towards those who integrate theirs successfully.

Boundaries are still important, they are challenging to maintain on all fronts and on all fronts remain important. As all people are quite different, the way people manage boundaries are also unique, and debates on the best way will never conclude.

For many, work-life-balance provide a great structure to ensure boundaries and balance.

For others, like me, who battle to use a clock to enforce boundaries, link these boundaries to purpose and enjoy the times when your personal and professional responsibilities can blend and create a richer experience on all fronts.

Central to all this remain self-care and a purpose driven life. If you don’t look after yourself first you can look after nothing and nobody else either. If you do not find purpose in your life, you cannot live productively, not personally and not professionally, no matter which tools you use to find balance.

Go to Top