I encounter countless number of people who are striving to reach the ultimate quest, a balanced life. The concept of having a balanced life permeates discussions of harried professionals. Books have been written about it. Articles have been written about it. News and life style shows have segments on it. Even the exquisite images of a balanced life are perfectly uniform – everything in equal measure. And there lies the conundrum.
Inherent to achieving a balanced life means finding a constant state of equilibrium. Everyday you get to leave the office at a reasonable hour, you can attend soccer games and work doesn’t impinge on your personal life. And yet, on a daily basis forces beyond your control challenge your ability and wherewithal to attain this elusive state of harmony. There will be times when you have to work late, travel over a weekend, join a conference call from home or handle a family emergency. Practically speaking, it goes with the territory and therefore seemingly at odds for living a balanced life. Frustrations mount and disappointments reign. But is a balanced life what we really want?
I found that seeking a balanced life was compromising my happiness. Even as a solo practitioner a balanced life is out of my grasp. Therefore, I advocate a new perspective. What if we aspire to live an integrated life? From my perspective, an integrated life is more within our control and allows for the natural ebb and flow of life and work.
To begin living an integrated life, identify what’s most important to you and ensure it has a place in your life. For example, if you want to exercise more (a personal favorite) look at your schedule and determine when and how you can integrate physical activity in your life. It may mean being creative and flexible with your workout based on your work and family schedule. Some weeks you have less or no time for exercise but you should never go too long without. The same is true for other activities that are important to you such as, attending your kid’s school activities, having dinner with your family, visiting your parents, reading a book and the list goes on.
As long as you are integrating what matters most on a regular basis you no longer crave the need to have balance.
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