Work-Life Integration: the key to making the journey more enjoyable

Last week I was reading an article published by the New York Times interviewing Tony Hsieh (CEO of Zappos) on Holocracy, a radical self-management theory where traditional corporate hierarchy gets thrown out the window. The idea seems far-fetched for most traditional business models, but leave it to Zappos to lead the charge. Can you imagine a CPA firm without titles such as senior, manager, or partner?  While I was interested in the topic of the article, what I actually got stuck on was the following quote from Hsieh:

“A lot of companies talk about work-life balance…we’re more about work-life integration. At the end of the day, it’s life.”

Work-life balance is a topic we come across on a daily basis. What it looks like, how to achieve it, how to provide it…the list goes on. When I left my traditional accounting firm to take on my entrepreneurial dream, one of the biggest “plus items” in my overanalyzed pros and cons list was the opportunity to achieve better work-life balance. Three years in and here’s what I’ve learned:

Work and Life are not separate silos;  no matter how hard you try, the two cannot be completely separated.

My business is a huge part of my life, as is my family, my friends, and my relationship with God. While I can separate the time I spend sitting in front of the computer from the time I spend at the park with my children, and call a 70/30 ratio some sort of “balance metric” to strive for, that just isn’t real life.

The relationships I’ve formed at work, the never ending rollercoaster of highs and lows that go hand-in-hand with running a start-up, the keep you up at night struggles on what direction to take the company, have molded me into who I am not only as a business woman, but also as a wife and mother.

Similarly, my children have taught me invaluable lessons in what I value in a business relationship (trust, support, and understanding) and the meaning behind building a successful product that has a positive impact on others. So in some ways, I am working every second of the day and in others I am living every second of the day.

Striving for balance in ALL areas of life is important and something I continually evaluate and try to achieve. But what I’m realizing is that it’s not about separating your “work” from your “life” and trying to find the perfect balance between the two. It’s about integrating your work into your life in a way that makes both journeys more enjoyable.