Care.com

Patrick Ball @PatrickBall

recovering journalist. content and strategy at Care.com. writing about policies, problems and benefits affecting working families.

Is Giving Up on Work-Life Balance the Key to Success?

Giving up on work-life balance improves integration

Ever feel like you're chasing our tail? Like you're so busy, and pulled in so many directions, that you're not able to give your best -- at work, at home, or anywhere?

Well, you're not alone. Research has found 7 out of 10 American workers report struggling to find an acceptable balance between work and family life.

That shouldn't be surprising, given that in the majority of household with children under 18 all parents work. And that more than half of Americans in their 40s and 50s are "sandwiched" between supporting their children and caring for aging relatives. 

We are a nation of working caregivers, and most of us are struggling to achieve work-life balance. But what if it's not work or life, but balance that's the problem with this equation?

 In a recent post, Care.com's Founder Chairwoman and CEO Sheila Lirio Marcelo explored that very question, and explained why you won't find her striving for work-life balance. 

In a post for LinkedIn, Sheila wrote:

It’s an antiquated way of thinking that suggests we check our family lives at the door from 9 to 5, and we leave work behind when we leave the office. That’s just not the way the world works, and it doesn’t have to.

What gets me fired up every day is that I get to bring my whole self to work. I don’t have to stop being a mother when I’m in the office. In fact, the game face I use in the board room is the same look I gave to my boys when they were younger, and I had to convey a tone of seriousness.

The basis for the post is that work-life balance is a myth flawed in its premise. Work and life don't exist separately and negotiating between the two forces you to take from one to give to the other. 

A better, more satisfying approach would be to find your purpose and pursue work-life integration. That way, work and life can coexist and even support one another. 

"When you’re worried about work-life balance, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment because you’re looking for two separate spheres when there is only one: life," writes Sheila. "So, instead of chasing the Great White Whale of work-life balance, why not focus on how you integrate life with your purpose and bring your whole self to everything that you do?" 

What do you think? Is work-life balance still possible? Or would we be better off finding purpose and pursuing work-life integration?