Do you live to work or work to live? This vital question is posed by Executive Coach and Leadership & Talent Strategist, Chantal Kading, founder and managing director of People Shop in Cape Town. Achieving a successful work-life balance is not easy, she elaborates in this article, because it implies that the scales must be tipped in favour of one or the other for progress to take place.
Perhaps this is why many fail at balancing the two, because life and sometimes work are nothing but perpetual motion. But if this is the case, and life or work can’t be stopped long enough to reach a sustainable balance, how can one get a handle on things?
I believe that work-life integration is the missing link and key to personal mastery, ongoing development and career excellence.
Integration, the act of combining two or more things into an integral whole, begins with understanding who you really are as a person and professional. In your personal sphere, this means reflecting on your mental, physical, emotional and spiritual self and how these aspects interface with the four aspects from your professional sphere, namely your agility, emotional resilience, intelligence and social quotient.
Agility is related to your mental faculties and is considered to be a better index when it comes to achieving success than IQ, education or even social skills (Deines, 2017). It’s not just about adapting to life, but adopting a forward-thinking approach that takes you beyond reaction towards pro-action and living a premeditated or well-planned life. It’s also about having the kind of flexible mindset that enhances other skills like critical thinking, creativity and innovation.
Emotion covers both spheres and is linked to overall health in your personal sphere. Research validates that our emotions, physical and mental health can positively or negatively influence each other (Dr L. Thomas, n.d). Emotional resilience in a professional setting begins with emotional awareness on a personal level and that means being aware of your strengths and weaknesses, your emotions, how you are responding or reacting to others, and the effect you have on them.
This awareness forms part of your emotional intelligence and builds into another important aspect which is emotional control. Consciously deciding how you respond to the world from a position of internal thought and power is what emotional control is about. Your level of control determines your emotional fitness, which is an indication of how good you are at showing up in life and your resilience and ability to manage your internal state in the face of external circumstances.
The social self or persona exists in relation to others and how we perceive ourselves in the world. Our social quotient allows us to connect with others through the art of communication. The chemistry we create through conversations can be a powerful experience and is developed in our personal sphere. In our professional sphere it may manifest as a high level of social intelligence which helps us expand our awareness of others and enables us to make an impact through our ability to lead, inspire and influence others.
When carefully considered and integrated, our personal and professional spheres can become a powerful driving force. Work-life integration is ultimately about the power of conscious choice – choosing to understand who we truly are, what we truly want to get out of life and more specifically, our careers, and how we can transform both spheres to align with our authentic values so that the personal and work are no longer an opposing force needing to be balanced, but a reflection of our best selves.
That is the ultimate goal. Unless you already enjoy this happy balance, it is important to consider implementing the way to achieving it. Perhaps you – or the company you work for – requires the services of a professional coach with experience in guiding individuals and businesses towards work-life integration. If so, there is no better time to do it than NOW!