Integrate your life, don’t balance between work and life.

While the world might seem to be in turmoil, we have always been constantly transitioning. You may be transitioning to a new job, from the public sector, between industries, to consulting, from the military. The smoother the transition, the better will be the result.

This is the first in a series of articles to assist you with that transition. This article gives our three top tips for achieving work-life integration rather than just balancing between your job and the rest of your life.

Tip 1. Integrate your work with your life

The saying goes that if you do what you love you will never spend another day at work. You need to know what drives you to get up in the morning. It might be the smell of a sale, the burgeoning bottom line, or a contribution to something greater than yourself. Life is for living to its fullest, not being divided by some arbitrary work/life balance.

Work and life should be integrated into a single journey, and you can only achieve that by working in a place you love on something that you love.

It’s not hard to find businesses that espouse work-life balance, but they have to work hard to make it work! Actually, they have to work hard to make everything work. You can spot them with their large HR department, “vision and values” written on their lanyards, a bevy of policies on equity, diversity and every other rule needed to ensure they’re doing the right thing.

They don’t “live their cultures”, they write about them.

Tip 2. Find a company that aligns to your purpose, and fits with your cultural beliefs

Companies that live their culture are harder to find. They generally come with a purpose, rather than simply vision and mission statements. They have a reason for existing, for coming to work beyond just improving shareholder value or “being the best”.

For those who come out of the military, and the public sector, you probably felt a sense of purpose. While work/life balance was fully integrated in the military, from my experience it was a bit lopsided. Public services are for a greater good and traditional industry is about ‘self’. However, there are exceptions to this rule – I can promise you there are companies that are built around purpose. I know this because we are building one, and we are not alone.

It is, however, perfectly acceptable to focus on the returns – if that is what is important to you and your life. What you earn cannot be ignored, you need enough to keep you and your family safe and you should be well rewarded for the contribution you make. For some that singular focus may be enough. It was never enough for me. The benefits I have accrued were the consequence of work, not its purpose.

If you are looking to change jobs, look for an organisation that fits with your purpose and your culture. If you want a business with purpose it has to be more than “being the best in the market” or “being number on

Find those with high aims. Like Apple with their purpose “making personal computing accessible to each and every individual so as to help change the way we think, work, learn, and communicate” or Microsoft’s vision “to empower every person and every organisation on the planet to achieve more”. Those visions allow organisations to go beyond just building a better piece of IT, to change the face of the market, and sometimes the world.

Beware of cognitive dissonance, where the claims don’t match the reality. Hewlett and Packard extolled that the cornerstone of the HP Way was contribution. Profit was a result of its existence not its reason for existing. HP has a much more sophisticated (and lengthy) vison statement today that would seem to follow that ideal. But the reality is that every meeting, every report and every conversation I had in my three years in the company was focused on how to maximise sales and profit. Not once did I waken excited by the prospect of selling another $100,000 of servers. I clearly don’t work there anymore.

That focus might excite you, and that’s fine, but if it doesn’t then look for actions behind the words that prove the company’s purpose.

Tip 3. Remember, this doesn’t have to be your final transition

Not all transitions between jobs will be successful, which is why you can transition again. You are in control of your choices. Make them wisely but if you find discord with your views then take action.

Our view is that it is possible to have an integrated life, to work for purpose and be well remunerated. There is little more joyful than waking in the morning to knowing that, despite some days being a drudge, that when you work for purpose every day will be fulfilling.

If you would like to talk about a transition to Kiah, contact us on 1 300 00KIAH (or 02 6230 5347) or [email protected]

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