The Difference Between Balance and Integration

So many people talk about balance in terms of life and work. I have to say, “balance,” as so many think and talk about it is – to say the least – mis-guided.

First off, balance implies a 50/50 apportioning. You don’t balance something with 78% of one thing and 22% or another, or 60% and 40%, or . . . .

What many people take away from the incessant pop culture chatter about “balance” is a despairing about how to achieve it and sense of failure for so clearly not.

And the solution is not to try and re-define balance as something other than 50/50 (our minds will reject such mental tom-foolery).

What’s more, balance is (often) precarious. It can be easily upset and things can come tumbling down in a instant.

The better alternative is to be integrated.’s first two definitions of “integrated” are most useful for our discussion here: 1.combining or coordinating separate elements so as to provide a harmonious, interrelated whole; 2. organized or structured so that constituent units function cooperatively.

Imagine that your life is a collection of blocks placed to arrange a whole. You can choose different blocks, each of sizes of your choosing, to make up the whole (your life).

Sometimes work gets big blocks and family, and self, smaller blocks to make up the whole.

Other times, you are able to use much larger blocks for you and your family.

The key is: You choose and assemble the blocks every day.

With clear values and excellent time investment, you can make a strong, vital whole each and every day. One that allows you to nurture your values and goals in all the areas of your life.

Or, you can try to “balance” everything . . . .

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One Comment

  1. Love the blocks metaphor, Matt! Much more powerful than scales because we most definitely ARE at choice. Also gives a sense of play to our choices. Rather than being powerless, we are powerful and engaged in what blocks we use and how re rearrange them each day.

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