One of the great challenges we have today is how to combine our professional activity with our life outside of work. Many people are overwhelmed by this great challenge. In some cases, it even generates high levels of tension and even other psychological problems of greater significance. Stephen Covey, North American writer and lecturer, said that “the challenge of combining our professional activity with the rest of our lives is one of the most important struggles that we must face today”.
The human being has 4 fundamental elements in his life: work (his professional activity), home (family), community (associations, church, sports clubs …) and oneself. And in this context, how do you integrate the different parts of your life?
There are many people who have been able to successfully lead one part of their lives but have failed in other parts. It is easy to remember stories of great achievers in a specific field but real disasters in other spheres of his life. Unfortunately, this situation has even been “normalized”. In other words, the idea that, to be truly successful in one area of your life (one of the 4 elements), you must give up on the others has been commonly spread. And I fully disagree with it. The more and better you are in each of these 4 areas of your life not only will not harm the rest of the areas but will help them. In this sense, much is said about the balance between personal and professional life. I personally don’t like this idea at all. Talking about balance means that you must manage yourself in terms of compensation or resignation. That empowering one area of your life involves worsening other areas. What is known as communicating vessels (when one element improves, the other worsens).
I am clearly committed to integrating as far as possible our different fields instead of trying to balance them. As the American leadership expert and Wharton professor Stewart D. Friedman explains, our lives are like a jazz band. There are 4 musicians (referring to each of our vital spheres discussed above). And to create good music there are times when only one of the instruments plays, for example, while other times several elements work simultaneously. Through a certain improvisation, discipline and practice it can be done perfectly.
The basis of leading your life is to create great connections between these 4 elements, with meaning and values. We don’t have to understand them as something separate but as coordinated elements that give meaning to your life. We must understand that they do not function as communicating vessels; on the contrary, they feed on each other. It is not a challenge of sum 0, that is, that what you dedicate to one area not only does not detract from the other areas but can also help and enhance them.
Many people believe that it is impossible to successfully combine the 4 elements of your life, but it is not. Scientific research has not only shown that it is possible, but it is also easier to have a very satisfactory life in one of your vital areas if you are very good in the other 3 areas, than if you give up on them to focus on the activity in which you want to have great successes.
To lead your life, you must lead your work, your home, your community, and yourself. Because, as the American politician Paul Tsongas, who died after a long illness at the age of 55, said, “when you are on the deathbed, no one regrets for not having spent more time at the office”.