Your busy life is hurting you more than you know
In 1988 I traveled to Philippines and India for the first time. I was part of a small team and we were away from home for 3 weeks. It was a busy trip working in community development and leadership training in both countries. In Manilla I managed to get a telephone call through to Australia at the local Post Office and spoke to my family. I cost me AUD$36 to make the 3 minute call. In India I lined up at the one public telephone with international access for an hour. However, when it was my turn I could not get through to Sydney which was very frustrating.
So much has changed since that time. We expect to communicate with loved ones every day from anywhere in the world. Not just by email or phone calls but also by posting pictures and making a video call on Facebook….for as long as we want and for free as long as we have WiFi access.
There are many benefits of technology for which I am extremely grateful. I would not want to go back to 1988. The challenge is that we expect so much more to happen quickly each and every day. Life for business people and other high achievers has become full of amazing opportunities. However the cost is we are moving at such a fast pace and are always crazy busy. Many of us are probably addicted to being busy or at least the adrenaline rush that comes from having to hit deadlines and make things happen every day. This lifestyle is causing all kinds of unwanted effects such as poor sleep, stress, and various levels of anxiety and depression. In our very connected digital world we are often less intimately connected with those who are closest to us. Many have forgotten how to relax, replenish and simply be.
Poor integration of work with life often leads to self-sabotage
Work can be a good thing that provides structure and purpose to life. However, most of us are working longer than required. For business owners and corporate executives work rarely stops. Smart phones and the global economy means we are connected to work 24/7. We struggle to take time off without checking emails or thinking through work problems. Juggling never ending work demands plus the increased aspirations of life has combined to provide a life that never stops. NYC (the city that never sleeps) has become a metaphor for life for many people. This can be exciting but it is also exhausting and draining. We like to believe we have everything under control. The truth is we don’t. More and more people are struggling to have healthy ‘work-life balance’. More and more people are sabotaging their lifestyle with poor habits, new relationships, restlessness, poor health, absent parenting, consumerism, emotional burnout, escapism, addictions and mental health issues.
Integration is a much better idea than ‘balance’
I have written in other places why I believe work-life balance is a myth. It does not work. It never has for passionate high achievers who want to make their mark on the world. Passion ruins balance. It is up to us to learn how to integrate our work with all that is important in our life.
Integration does not just happen
I have recently written a book called, “INTEGRATE – Why work-life balance is a myth and what you really need to create a fulfilling lifestyle.” I look at some of the causes and results of a scattered lifestyle, and then provide some answers to how anyone can integrate their work with all that is important in their life. When we are busy and scattered our lack of perspective makes it difficult for us to make good choices about life. There is a need to learn effective self-leadership strategies that enable us to start the process of integration for all the parts of our lives.
For me this is personal. I lost my way in a busy people serving role in which I forgot how to look after myself. My journey back from a painful burnout experience took several years and was way too costly in terms of family and relationships. I had to rediscover the elusive quality of self-respect. I had to really work on myself and learn to know and like myself again. Self-respect led to renewed self-care strategies and then to better self-management.
I wrote INTEGRATE because I wanted to share what I have learned. My wife and I are both passionate and hard working people. We both run businesses. We enjoy the results of hard work. What we have learned and put into practice over 6 years are self-care strategies that enable us to always have energy for the high impact times in our lives. We take regular breaks. We set goals and make plans across our whole life, not just for our businesses. We know the parameters or boundaries of our world and have effective plans in place to make sure we do most things very well.
Anyone can do this
We live a life of healthy integration of all that is important to us. And my conviction is that anyone can do this. You can be successful in business AND build a great lifestyle for yourself and your family. Success in one area of your life does not have to mean your health or your marriage or your children or your wider family relationships have to suffer.