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Is Your Quest For Work-Life Integration Driving You Insane?

  • 23rd May'22

In your experience, how did the last week go in juggling both working 9 to 5 and life responsibilities? If you've ever felt that your "job" has conflicted with your "life," you're not alone. According to researchers, maintaining work-life integration might feel like a zero-sum game in which we are constantly making compromises.


What are the alternatives?

Dr. Stewart Friedman, an organizational psychologist at Wharton Business School and founder of its Work/Life Integration Project, explained that nearly 30 years of research suggests that we don't have to sacrifice the things that matter most to us in our personal lives to succeed in our careers. In fact, his research has shown that when we're able to connect the four important domains of our lives: our career, our family, our community, and ourselves (mind, body, spirit) we're more likely to be successful, perform better, feel less stressed, and be more in harmony.

Instead of seeking work-life integration, Stewart suggests that we seek "Four-Way Wins" that benefit and improve ourselves, our family, our community, and our work. The fact that these areas are interconnected increases the chances that we could discover opportunities to enrich all aspects of our lives, rather than assuming that one must always come at the cost of the other.

People who start using the Four-Way Wins technique, perhaps surprisingly, start by directing some of their attention away from work and into the other areas. While this may cause anxiety in some workplaces, this redirection can, paradoxically, lead to improved performance at work and in other domains because people are more grounded, less distracted, more focused, and more intentional about the things that count.

Unfortunately, according to Stewart's research, many of us currently ranks our satisfaction with each of the four categories at around five out of ten. It’s evident that work-life integration burnout is common.


What can we do to improve our “Four-Way Wins”?


  • Be Real

Being honest about your beliefs and vision is the first step toward creating better harmony and connection in all aspects of your life. It requires analysis and clarification of what is most important. What are your priorities? What is the most important thing to you? What brought you here? What are your travel plans?

Take a few minutes to describe a day exactly 15 years from now as an effective method to convey your vision. Consider what might occur on that particular day. You awake. What exactly do you do? What are your morning routines? In the afternoon, perhaps? In the evening, perhaps? With whom are you interacting? Most importantly, why are you acting the way you are? What kind of influence do you have? What kind of legacy are you leaving?

As a leader, you can lay the groundwork for taking meaningful, productive action by expressing your values and vision and then communicating them with others. It can also help you gain more support by allowing others to see what you're about and how they can benefit from your vision.


  • Be Whole

Recognize and appreciate yourself as a whole person, as well as others. Consider why the four domains of life are important to you. Who are the people in your life who mean the most to you? Why are they important to you? How do they align with your core values, personal vision, and leadership style? Instead of thinking you know what others expect of you, ask them what they really want. Then be able to listen, inquire, and assist others in feeling comfortable telling you what they require of you, as well as convey what you desire from them.


  • Be Innovative

Experiment with different approaches to improve yourself, the people you care about, and the world around you. Set a specific goal for yourself, such as turning off gadgets, practicing mindfulness, exercising, going for walks, or reading books, and evaluate how this will help you better the four areas.

To handle burnout in work-life integration, whatever you choose to do, remember that it isn't just for you, your job, your family, or your community; it is for all of them. Try it out for a month to discover what works and what doesn't. Consider your environment as a laboratory in which you are the researcher learning new things about what it takes to make a difference. This can make you feel more confident about trying something new, as well as less guilty about focusing on yourself because you're improving things for yourself and others.


Shellye is committed to helping people from diverse backgrounds achieve their careers and life aspirations. The content published above was made in collaboration with our members.

Shellye Archambeau is determined to help you with all possible strategies to climb the ladder of success. She values your feedback. Do mention them in the comment section below.

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