An Example of How Words Matter

For example, let’s say you want to lose weight. You look in the mirror and what you see does not fit what the public says is how you should look. You also don’t feel good in your clothes. You don’t feel good when you have to move. So you decide to “lose weight.” But those words are associated with all the negative thoughts: you don’t belong, you don’t look good, you don’t feel good. You go on a diet and it lasts a few weeks. You may lose a few pounds, but as soon as you change your eating habits, the weight comes back on. And you repeat this cycle year after year and you have no results.

Now, what if you made a different decision this time. Instead of focusing on “losing weight,” you decide to do something entirely different. [And notice the difference in the words used.]

Let’s say you decide that next year, you’re going to join a tour that has you riding 75-100 miles a day for 30 days in Europe. You’ll stop in a variety of little villages, taste its regional cuisine and sip the regional wine. This is a trip you’ve been dreaming about your entire adult life. You don’t want to miss a single village or wine tasting so you start training. You join a spin class to get in shape so you can handle a 100-mile day. You eat differently because you want to be healthy so you don’t have health issues while you’re on this trip. Will you lose weight? Very likely. But more importantly, you’ll become more healthy and get in shape because you’ve changed what you are telling yourself. You’ve changed the words. WORDS MATTER.

Does Work-Life Balance Exist: Which Words Matter?

So does work-life balance exist? It’s defined as your ability to enjoy all of life which includes you, your family, your friends and work. But there is no “balance” in the sense that there is no one spot in life that is correct or perfect. You won’t spend 25% of your time and energy on each part. Work-life balance does not exist. Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO of Amazon refers to it as work-life harmony. My problem with the phrase is that it still suggests that there are polar positions (work and life) that must be harmonized. And when you are living a life that is not harmonized, you’re up against the very same battle as trying to lose weight. WORDS MATTER.

Does Life Integration Exist?

The answer is ABSOLUTELY YES. Think about the term for a moment. Imagine your selfcare, your family, your friends and your work being integrated. The notion of equal does not exist. Imagine pouring a large bag of skittles into a large mason jar. When you look at the jar from one perspective, you may see more of one color than another. Now shake the jar and the color relationships change. That’s an integrated life. Each day is like shaking the mason jar and the relationships of everything in the jar changes, but remain integrated. On any given day, you may need to focus more on work while on another, you may need to focus more on yourself.

Life integration is not about percentages. It’s a macro view of your life. A week is the shortest period of time you should consider. Looking over the entire week, have you allowed time and energy for all aspects of your life? Or has some aspect suffered? Are you spending way more time at work than you need because you have some idea that being busy is how you measure success? If one or more segments of your life are suffering, you don’t have life integration. It’s would be like shaking the jar of skittles and not seeing any of one color.
Do you have to trade off  life integration for success and productivity? No, you don’t. In fact, if you are making those trade offs, your productivity and success are not at your full potential and you are cheating yourself. Isn’t it time to stop and optimize your life?

A Simple Exercise To Find Out How Integrated Your Life Is:

Spend some time just observing how integrated your life is, on a weekly basis. As you are observing, ask yourself one question: is there any segment getting left behind? Your gut will give you the answer.