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Why Work-Life Balance Isn’t Working

Work-life balance is a nice idea in theory: You prioritize between your work and lifestyle. You block out time for a three-hour meeting and a three-hour cuddle-fest with your kiddos (as if they can sit still that long). You can grow your talents from 8 to 5 and give those talents a break on a snorkeling vacation to Belize once a year.

Yet, one of the top things we find when we Google “work-life balance” is a slew of articles on how to actually achieve it, how to do it better, secrets to making it work, what could be if only. Ever hear this from your colleagues: “Catching up after being gone on vacation makes being away more work than it’s worth”?

You know what this tells us? Hardly anyone achieves this work-life balance pinnacle. Actually, this didactic way of work and way of life causes us to:

  • Waste time planning.
  • Waste time stressing that the two parts aren’t equal.
  • Want more this or more that.
  • Feel all sorts of guilt when it doesn’t work out.

And you know what? We haven’t achieved work-life balance either. And we’re not trying to anymore.

Work-life balance weighs on the side of impossible.

Work-life balance is all about priorities. Get your priorities straight, experts tell us. Do your professional thing and spread those professional wings — but don’t forget about your health, your family and your me-time in the process.

Protect your private time. Say no to things. Block out your time on the calendar. Keep your work separate from your life.

This philosophy exists to encourage you to make time for the important things in your life. And sure, we can see how it can help some people — like those who spend 40-hour workweeks in a cubicle office, sitting there solely to earn a paycheck.

But for small business boss babes, for the passionate types, for the big dreamers and even bigger doers, work-life balance becomes more of a burden than a safety net for the things you care about.

Priorities are different when the work you’re doing is more than just work.

How work-life balance evolved at iMarketer.

The iMarketer bosses are all about taking breaks from work and making time for family, friends and health. But we’d never tell you to shoot for balance.

You’ll never find balance between work and life. Work and lifestyle aren’t equal forces in our lives. Life is dynamic and fluid and its responsibilities and needs are constantly evolving. Work likewise has ups and downs and ins and outs.

We’re all about the work-life integration here. The idea is that at any given time, whatever is most important to our life here and now will organically jump to the forefront. And whatever needs most of our time will demand it.

That means sometimes work will take more than 40 hours a week. That means sometimes life forces you to take a week-long hiatus.

Work-life integration means forgetting the rules that you can’t answer an email when you’re at your kids soccer game; the fact that you can answer that email during their game has allowed you to show up to the game in the first place.

Integration means grabbing groceries when you’re near the grocery store, even if it’s during business hours and letting your kids learn business skills by being your “production assistants” for your Facebook videos.

How you can realize work-life integration.

Work-life integration is easier to achieve than work-life balance, because it’s natural and it’s fulfilling.

Here are some guidelines to help you start bringing your two lives together in harmony:

  • Find a profession you’re passionate about and find fulfillment from.
  • Accept that in some seasons, work will take the forefront over lifestyle and vice a versa.
  • Use technology to its fullest — by working from your mobile devices when you’re out and about, by keeping up on projects on vacation, by making anywhere your office.
  • Remember your goals — both in work and life — and frame your actions around them.

An iMarketer Challenge: Share Your Work-Life Integration Dreams

Before you leave us, leave a comment below on your top work goal and your top life goal. Then, check out the iMarketer Blueprint and see how it can help you achieve both of these, working your professional goals and living the life you want, too.

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