I believe that work life integration is the process that helps create career clarity for people. You will see the term “work-life integration” on my website and I am not sure if we’re on the same page on this. Let me take a stab at it and then you can leave your comments below if you have other thoughts or ideas about it.
“Work life” to most people connotes balance between work and life as if they are two separate things. I used to think that way, too, for most of my career. I thought work is where you deliver service and you earn money. Life is when I leave my workplace and go out to the real world – my real life.
Did my company know who the real me was in my real life? Probably not. For one, most companies do not care who the real me was, although they loved the employee-me. Secondly, I never revealed who the real me was because I did not want them to know my career intentions. They might not be aligned with what the company wants me to do or to be and I might lose my job.
Years of hiding in a persona of the employee-me made me suffer from some kind of “work life schizophrenia” – having different personalities. At some point, that part of me that go to work come with no energy, no motivation, and no life. I could be accomplishing things, successfully running programs, communicating well, and delivering results. However, I come to work without my spirit. My spirit was at home with the real me who barely had a few hours in a day to exist.
Then I thought, if I could find a way to help people put their two or multiple identities together, how will it serve them? How will it help them to integrate their work with their real life? And so I did. I help people create their work-life integration strategies. Following are my personal strategies and you’re welcome to examine them if applicable to yours.
1. Have a life in and out of your work and let these two lives merge and exist in the same dimension. Getting self-employed is one. Not giving in to the temptation of designing my business according to what others do successfully is another. I know that this is quite counter-intuitive to most people. However, for the first time in my life, I am designing my career based on what and how I really want it to be. I travel while I work and I work while I travel. I work from home and that’s where I am most creative – working alone. I am sensitive and intuitive, not very positive qualities in a rat race of a corporate world, but a prized commodity in my coaching career. I have put all the elements I desire and leveraged my strengths in different way to integrate who I am with the work that I do.
2. Get away to get fresh perspective of your work and to touch base with your real self. Bring your real self to work when you get back. Getting away for a while gives you a fresh perspective. I quit fulltime employment for four years when I had my only child. During this time, I did some crazy, non-linear stuff and experimented on different kinds of work. I learned new skills and actually started seeing work so much differently. When I got back to fulltime employment, the break rendered me more effective and 100% more engaged.
3. Move in with your real self. If you can’t find your real self in the work that you’re doing right now, figure out where you will find him or her. You need to have a deep understanding of who you are and what your brand foundation is. Having that knowledge, you can experiment on parallel careers. Try out other deep interests on weekends or on sabbaticals. See how you can make money doing different things on the side. Think laterally, explore possibilities.
4. Bring the many dimensions of your life in one integrated whole. Accept the fact that one dimension can be at work and another dimension can be at play. The important thing is that the two dimensions can comfortably fit into one whole space that you call your life without any conflict in values, character, and expression. There is nothing wrong with being multi-dimensional as long as you create a whole out of the many facets of your work life.
5. Be clear with your brand foundation. It is key to getting career clarity. If there are two or more dimensions that don’t fit well together, decide which one you will maximize to eventually occupy the entire space of your life, and the one you will minimize and eventually eliminate to give space for the other one. Eliminating unwanted aspects of your work life comes easier when you are operating from a clear core purpose, personal vision and life mission.
How will you approach work-life integration in your own unique way? How can you make it happen?
Take stack of your work life and create a work-life integration strategy. Set up an appointment for an obligation-free and complimentary 30-minute coaching to find out how to get started. Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.