How many times does a good idea for work come to you when you’re in the shower? Or maybe it’s when you’re taking a hike or performing the most mundane of household chores?

Forward-thinking companies and entrepreneurs are steadily realizing that, instead of this notion that there must be a good work-life balance, it’s more realistic to strive for work-life integration. Say what?

What is work-life integration?

The traditional model of “leaving it at the office” and transitioning into a strictly personal home-mode just doesn’t seem to be a reality anymore. How can it be, with electronic devices at our beck and call, and the constant checking for emails and status updates?

The truth is this: work-life integration – where professionals master the art of blending what they do professionally and what they do personally in order to make both work – is today’s model of life. We’re driving carpools and making dinner while formulating yearly goals and project strategies. We’re rehearsing presentations and brainstorming marketing ideas while walking the dogs and raking leaves.

This shift in the way we approach makes sense, really. More and more companies and organizations are embracing remote workers and nontraditional structures. Netflix, for example, recently made headlines for embracing this work-life integration by introducing an unlimited vacation policy and a generous parental leave program.

“You often do your best thinking (when) you’re off hiking in some mountain or something, and you get a different perspective on something,” Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said recently at The New York Times’ Dealbook conference in New York. “I take a lot of vacation and I’m open about it internally to try to set a good example.”

Hastings takes six weeks of vacation a year, but that doesn’t mean he’s not thinking about work. “You often do your best thinking (when) you’re off hiking in some mountain or something and you get a different perspective on something,” he said.

How do you make it happen?

None of this comes as a surprise to me, since I have been successfully practicing work-life integration for years. But as a small business owner, I have the luxury of making my own schedule. For most corporate executives, it’s a challenge to not only realize this shift in thinking, but to support and foster employees so they can be productive no matter where they are.

So how do you make that shift? How do you live an integrated life, while also fulfilling responsibilities, and meeting company goals and expectations? It all starts with identifying your core values and then aligning them with work. For example, my own personal core values include:

  • Faith and Spirituality
  • Service
  • Connection / Family
  • Health
  • Gratitude

What was amazing for me was that once I was able to identify them, it changed my perspective and gave me a greater sense of freedom in how I approached work.

So now, when I coach clients who want to successfully practice work-life integration (including everyone from independent entrepreneurs to top-level company executives), I start by helping them identify their own core values, so they can then feel empowered to choose a work structure that blends will with their home life. This relieves some of the pressure that comes with strictly defined “work times” and “free times.”

Work-life integration allows workers to be less bound by clocks or office rules, and more focused on drive and sheer passion. Work-life integration is a refreshing concept that’s all about giving employees (or giving yourself) permission to fulfill job responsibilities in a way that suits individual lifestyles.

Do you practice work-life integration?

Are you working in an environment that encourages work-life integration? If so, has this approach had a positive impact on your quality of life? If not, is this something you would like to explore? Please leave your comments below.

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