The idea of balance is prevalent for people today, Specifically, the meme of work/life balance.
Many see this as a call to allocate one’s life in certain proportions. As if there is an ideal amount of time for each area that will “balance” the scales, and presumably, result in happiness and fulfillment at work and at home.
Attempts at balance generally fail because the “system” is dynamic. Demands and opportunities are never static, at work or home.
I submit that living integrally – integrating the different aspects of life effectively – is the better alternative.
But what does it mean to live “integrally?”
First and foremost, it means living in integrity.
Fundamental to living in integrity is knowing and living your values. I could go on at length about living in accordance with one’s values, but I’ll leave that treatment for another post.
I can illustrate my point with a metaphor:
Imagine life is a collection of recipes. Recipes for success at work, with family, in the community and internally.
Every recipe calls for certain ingredients, in certain proportions, often combined in a certain order and prepared in a particular manner.
Recipes rarely (if ever… ) call for ingredients to be “balanced.” Some ingredients make up a large percentage of the “volume” but only exert a certain amount of influence over the end product. Some ingredients are a miniscule proportion, but are critical to the recipe’s success.
Take one pound cake recipe I just found for example, if all the ingredients were balanced, you’d have way too much extracts of vanilla and lemon.
Instead, the ingredients are integrated with certain ingredients such as butter, flour and sugar being in higher volume than others. Take away even one of the ingredients – or change the proportions – and what you end up will be, at best, not pound cake and, at worst, inedible (and a waste of time and materials… ).
Think of your life as a collection of recipes each calling for a certain amount of your time, effort and presence. Each area of your life will respond best to an integrated application of your humanity – the right amounts, in the right order, and prepared in the way that’s right for the particular situation.
Living in an integrated way if far more effective – and satisfying – than playing the fool’s game of “balance.”