Does work / life balance exist?

Life & Work

Read a few books about intentional living or productivity and you’ll encounter some version of this question. FWIW, my favorite way I’ve heard this framed out is “work/life integration.” Balance is nearly impossible because you will always go through seasons of imbalance.

I think we have to be okay with imbalance. We have to let go of the idea that it will all perfectly balance out, and instead, think about how we can be intentional in any season of life.

There are times and seasons where I tell Tiffany, “Hey, heads up, the next couple of weeks are going to be real busy.” We just onboarded a new client who will take a lot of personal time and attention from me, which means I will need to work in a more “head down” manner than I usually do.

What’s not okay (at least for us) is a scenario where work is like this for months or years at a time. If that’s happening, something is broken. I know that when you start any business, there can definitely be prolonged periods like this in the beginning. But I think you should work to minimize those as much as possible.


Because when you sacrifice the best of you without fully realizing the implications, it leads to more dissatisfaction than you could imagine. Trust me, I know.

So in my work, I do my best to embody the idea of “creating a life you don’t want to take a vacation from.” That’s where the idea of work/life integration really speaks to me. If they can be integrated in such a way that there is a seamless transition between them, I think that’s a better overall way.

However—there can be problems with that. For example (and I’m being fully transparent here), I’ve worked hard to create a life where nobody puts things on my todo list. My priorities are mine when I wake up. And most of the time (as I posted about last week), my day starts with a fairly blank slate.

My current struggle is that unless I am fully “on” during work and fully “off” once I’m off, I sometimes get moody/depressive. Almost like I feel guilty if I’m not “head down” all the time. I know many of you are thinking, “Well duh, that’s just called work.”

No, not necessarily.

When you own a business, actually, the less you “work,” the better. Because the business depends on me to have a high-level view where I can identify problems/bottlenecks, zoom in to fix them, then zoom back out. 30,000 ft. stuff. If I’m always at 5,000 ft., I won’t see that stuff clearly. My best contribution is being a “noticer” and a “creative problem solver” where necessary.

But like I said, since doing that work is not always a focused task, it can be hard to feel like you’re working even if you’re doing the most important work of all. How have I fixed that?

Well—I haven’t. But, I think I’m on the right track by cozntinuing to think in terms of “integration” instead of balance. I can’t work all the time. But, for example, I could take a few hours off during the day in summer and work a bit in the evening. I could take my work to the poolside while my kids are swimming, so I’m at least there and getting some sun. We could (and do) occasionally take a spontaneous trip to visit our friends and work from there for a few days while spending time.

No matter what you do—whether you own a business or work for someone else, there are ways to negotiate how your ideal day goes. If you don’t like the current situation, take steps today to work toward changing it.

And if you feel like you’ll never achieve work/life balance, maybe it’s not possible to do? Maybe you should be shooting for integration instead, accepting the idea of seasonality, and working towards building a life instead of (just) a nest egg.

Jun 10, 2024

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Hey, I'm Steve — a Christian, entrepreneur, thinker, and creator. Thanks for stopping by!

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