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Stop Work Life Balance and Try This

In today’s highly connected world the idea of “Work/Life Balance” is dead. Your computer and, to a much larger extent, your mobile phone, follow you everywhere. In that mobile you have work email, chats, and phone (of course) that keep you always connected to your business for better or worse.

When I was working for a big four consulting company they told me, “we value work/life balance and we are committed to the program’s success.” Now, this was important because the company had a high turnover rate due to challenging work assignments and constant out-of-town travel. As consultants, we planned on being out of town for 4 to 5 days per week for most of our projects, which lasted for around 6 months on average. For the single person straight out of college this was exciting; however, over time, this demand on your time would become increasingly challenging on your home life (spouse, kids, friends, family, hobbies, etc).

I was amongst those consultants who loved the game of going to demanding projects and figuring our way to success with a team of smart and committed people. We would always say that we worked hard and played harder (as the saying goes). But, after 7 years, this mindset became more of a mental drag as I found that I could not make solid plans. Something would always come up that required some unexpected business travel. I was truly burned out.

So what did I do? I left it behind and took a vacation!

Well… not really. I went to graduate school, which felt like vacation to me. I worked extremely hard in school; however, with no travel obligations, I found it much easier to make plans, establish long-term relationships, go on vacations, etc. When I thought about why my happiness had risen so much, I came to the realization that I was trying too hard to compartmentalize my life when I was a consultant.

Work/Life Balance? NO!

It was the attempt at compartmentalization that was the problem with the idea of work/life balance. What I needed to do instead was to trade the idea of “balance” with “integration”.

Work/Life Integration? YES!

Now with this new-found revelation of work/life integration, I thought it was time to integrate my way into optimal happiness, fulfillment, and success in life. So, I set forth on integrating work and life as much as possible.

I was working for a satellite communications company at this point, so I did things like bring the kids and wife to select business trips and events.

For example, as a business development sales guy at a satellite company, I had the responsibility and privilege to meet with customers. To keep strong ties with customers, I would go to events with customers like company rocket launches. So what did I do? Of course I took the whole family. The weekend before launch, we went to the beach and explored Cape Canaveral Florida's coast area. During the launch event, I introduced my family to customers as part of the relationship building process (and for fun).

My customers and I were very close, so them meeting my family (I thought) was a natural progression in building solid relationships. This helped my work (in terms of opportunities for business collaboration), helped my family life (as far as bonding and fun with dad), and gave shared experiences with both customers and family that we could remember and discuss for a lifetime.

Pic of my son and I at a SpaceX Rocket Launch "work trip"

I hope you take away that the art of life is integration and not balance. There are not enough hours in the day or enough emotions in the heart to separate all parts of your life. Start a business with your wife, brother, or friend. Work-out with a work colleague or customer. Bring your kids to that tech conference. I know it’s impossible to integrate all… but don’t hesitate to integrate when you have an opportunity.

About me: I’m mostly focused on internet growth, culture, and startups and am the COO at Wafer Inc. When I can find time between being a co-founder and life I enjoy writing, mostly here and occasionally on Linkedin. If you enjoy my writing, subscribe or follow me on LinkedIn to see more in the future.


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