Life Versus Career. The Secret is Out

It seems like every self-respecting business guru is using the phrase ‘work-life balance’ these days. What it actually means is definitely up for debate. This delicate ideal that has people asking if they can ‘have it all’ and simultaneously wondering if they should be banking hours at the office or skipping off early for Friday night drinks, is a confusing concept that isn’t really liberating the work force as the well intentioned phrase suggests it should.

The word ‘balance’ itself suggests that you have to have more of one and less of another in order to maintain equilibrium. It requires the separation of two opposite elements and proportionately measuring them in order to achieve ultimate stability. So should work life and personal life be opposing sides battling it out for attention? Is there a better way to approach your life?

Balance is such a personal and complicated concept in the first place. For some people balance means making sure they get a surf in each week. For other people it’s working enough hours to afford that trip away.  What balance means to you is a question worth asking and continuing to review as your life and your career progresses. But is work-life balance really the aim of the game?

What if we threw the concept of life versus career out the proverbial window and instead focused on integration? This idea focuses on finding your own niche, understanding what you enjoy doing and pursuing a career based on this. Instead of trying to pin point an elusive ideal, maybe if we decided to focus on integration of our work and our lives perhaps the coveted work-life balance would become far less elusive. Then it could become part of the package rather than something to strive for.

So what are you good at? What do you love to do? If money were no object what would you be happy doing for work? It’s wise to keep things simple here to avoid being bogged down in the mire of what the meaning of life is. Pick something you know you’re good at. What are your skills and how do you enjoy using them?

Once you know what your niche is you can pick a career that fits that as well as your own personal ideals of what balance means. Of course your finances are important and should always be a consideration.

Here it’s worth asking the question of what wealth actually means to you. Does being rich revolve around what is in your bank account or does it revolve around being able to live in a beautiful place and surf more often? It’s different for everyone so be honest with yourself.

If being at the beach is important to you, how can you work and be there at the same time? If family is important to you, is it conceivable to fit your five day week into four days so you can spend more time with them? If both are important then how can you spend more time at the beach whilst spending precious time with them?

Technology now allows us to be much more flexible and more productive. You are always contactable by several different means at once and this allows you to be working even if you aren’t chained to a desk. You can now be in more places at once and this allows you to have a more integrated approach to work and life. 

Nowhere is this concept better demonstrated than in the surf industry. It conveniently offers a near perfect example of integrating your work and your life. No one in the surf industry will tell you that they don’t have to work hard, of course they do. But they also have the opportunity to be involved in an industry that revolves around their personal interests.

This also makes it feel less like work. If you love your job and you personally take something away from it, suddenly the desperation to obtain this all important balance disappears.

Your work life and your life outside of work are one and the same. If you can enjoy all the aspects of your life, it is conceivable to believe that you will also feel you have achieved balance. Now you feel you have time to do the things you want to do, because you are doing them on a daily basis.

There will always be things in every single job that we don’t like doing. That’s why it’s called work. But it’s said to be a trait of successful people that they do the tasks they perhaps don’t enjoy because they understand that these are necessary to achieve the end goal. This makes them more productive and more successful.

In turn, if the end goal is aligned with the things that are important to you in all areas of your life, you are likely to not only be more successful but more fulfilled and therefore have a greater feeling of balance. 

How have you integrated your work life and your life outside of work?

Posted by: Sarah Price, on June 4, 2014
Categories: Articles