The Integration Sweet SpotMay 17, 2023
We all need to stop trying to find a balance between work and home. You think by mastering this so-called balance, you’ll eventually find happiness.
But you won’t.
I have been preaching this, coaching this, and teaching this for decades.
Think about it for a moment. If you do an outstanding job creating the perfect balance between your work life and your home life, at best, you’ll be straddling 50/50 between the two.
And last I checked, a 50 percent in anything is equivalent to a letter grade of an F.
Instead, we need to replace the word balance with integration.
When you integrate all aspects of you into everything you do, you’ll discover you can have a less stressful, less chaotic, and more peaceful life. When done thoughtfully, integration is a beautiful thing.
Integration also means finding ways to overlap your work with your hobbies. Take Ken & Cathy for example.
Ken is a successful corporate attorney who also happens to be a sommelier. This guy knows more about wine than anyone I have ever met. He can explain fruits and notes and nuances in the most interesting ways to a novice wine drinker.
His wife, Cathy, is his office manager and also happens to be a master gardener. Their home is spectacular. It’s no surprise this is where they host their annual client appreciation events.
Ken and Cathy set up wine stations throughout their yard. Cathy walks the guests through her gardens, educating them along the way about each of the flowers she’s grown and cultivated over the past twenty years on her property. Then the group pauses at each of Ken’s wine stations. That’s where Ken educates them about the types of wine they’re tasting. Ken loves his work as an attorney, and he loves his successful, business owner clients. He also loves wine. And he loves Cathy. And Cathy loves gardening. Together they have figured out how to integrate all of these elements into a one-of-a-kind event every spring for their firm's top clients.
This is integration: taking elements of all the things you love in the separate areas of your life and bringing them together in a beautiful Venn diagram. That middle section—where all the separate circles come together—is where you want to spend most of your time.
That’s what I call the integration sweet spot.
Learning how to find that sweet spot is like hitting a bullseye over and over. It's magical.
My coaching client Jason is also a successful financial advisor. He loves spending time in his woodshop making handcrafted wooden pens. Each pen takes about an hour from start to finish. They’re time-consuming, but Jason loves the Zen-like process of spinning the wood and carving each one personally.
The pens also make great gifts.
Jason wished he could spend more time over the winter in his woodworking shop, but he was committed to taking and passing the Certified Financial Planner™ exam in March. To do this, he knew he needed to dedicate 140 hours over the winter to study.
When Jason shared with me how bummed he was about having no time for woodworking, I suggested he download as much of the audio material for the CFP exam as he could find. He brought his Bluetooth speaker into his woodshop and listened to the study material while he made his pens. Between weeknights and extra time invested on the weekends, Jason was able to clock 100 hours of studying time for the CFP exam, all the while working in his shop doing what he loves and relaxing in the process. He credits the hum of the machines and the happiness he feels in his woodworking shop to how successful he was at learning and retaining the material.
Jason passed his CFP exam on the first try, which is uncommon. He was thrilled and proud that the time he invested had definitely paid off.
And you won’t be surprised that Jason also put in exactly the right amount of time to create 100 wooden pens. These are the pens he gave each of his new clients as a thank-you gift for trusting him and his team. He mailed each package with a personal message that the pen was handmade by him, specifically for them. The letter was beautifully written and shared how he made the gifted pens while also preparing for a very big exam.
This is integration.
When you really start to understand and appreciate this concept, you will no longer strive for the impossible “balance” between home and work. Instead, you will start to see how having it all—even all at once—is totally possible with deliberate overlapping.
When you learn how to integrate all facets of you into everything you do, you will be happier. When you learn how to spend more time in the middle of your Venn diagram—inside that integration sweet spot—you will feel more complete.
And when you really learn to master this, everyone in your world will start to gain a deeper appreciation for your work, your talents, and you as a complete package.
Want a Deeper Dive in this Subject? Ask yourself...
- Are you torn between a hobby you wish you had more time for and the more pressing responsibilities you currently have to deal with at work and at home? Can you integrate them?
- What tedious projects need to be done at the office? Can you hire your son or daughter as a summer intern to get them done? You’ll be happy you’re getting the project off your plate. Your kids will appreciate the income. That’s integration.
- Write down the things you love to do, but wish you had more time for.
- Now start to brainstorm how you can include others in these hobbies or projects. Where can you start to see overlap in the things you now do separately? Begin to map out the different circles of your Venn diagram, then look for ways to overlap them one at a time. Before long, you will have created your own integration sweet spot.
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