Saturday, March 2, 2013

Work/Life Balance or Work/Life Integration?

My boss and I have been a little at odds lately. This is predicated, in part, on the zaniness in my life - planning a wedding, renovating a house, living temporarily in someone else's house, and managing some family concerns both here and 325 miles away. I am not operating at my best as an employee at this moment.

The overwhelming nature of my life does not, however, impact my position on the conflict with my boss. In a recent discussion, long before the kerfuffle created by the "no work from home" edicts at Yahoo, she posited that the oft cited desire for "work/life balance" was ridiculous. Her philosophy is that work and life should be integrated. Her point being that working should not be thought of as separate from living - that work IS living.

In an ideal world, yes. If I were an actor or a painter or an author - maybe even an architect, politician, professional athlete or a spiritual leader I could imagine my work being integrated with my life. Because living is the source of inspiration is drawn for creative, spiritual and political pursuits. Conversely, in these and similar professions, working inspires life choices. Salvador Dali's home was an extension of his art, and American politicians' life choices intensely impact their legitimacy as leaders.

Certainly my core values influence my life and my work choices. And obviously the first world chaos in my personal life is impacting my success at work. I generally feel proud of my work accomplishments, and am invested in having meaningful work.

But increasingly I find myself believing that I work to live, rather than living to work. Work/life balance is the name of the game, and it means my work has to pay enough AND not tax me so much so that I have money and time to pursue the other activities that make my heart go pitter pat.

This means work, for me, at this moment in time, is a means to an end. It offers me a paycheck that I then use to pursue my goals and dreams - whether that is getting married, building a house, spending time with family, enjoying beautiful food, traveling.

If I were to pursue "work/life integration," I would be working in a job that affords me opportunities to pursue the activities that make my heart go pitter pat - while both energizing my soul and paying me enough. My work with the 5 book is, I hope, taking me in this direction. Until them, I'm firmly in the "work/life balance" camp.

Where are you? Do you adhere to the work/life balance OR the work/life integration camp? Or something else? If you were to have work/life integration, what would it look life to you?

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