During my college years, I daydreamed about landing a tech job that would let me travel the world, meet people and sample various cuisine. Fast forward 20 years later, I am doing exactly just that. I am grateful that as CMO for AvePoint, I get to work daily with very talented colleagues and serve amazing customers around the world.
Due to the nature of my job, I travel a lot. Friends and colleagues often ask, “How do you do it, Dux? How do you balance your personal life and your work life?”
To me, it’s all about work-life integration.
What’s Work-Life Integration?
According to UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, work-life integration is “an approach that creates more synergies between all areas that define ‘life’: work, home/family, community, personal well-being, and health.”
This approach emphasizes gentle pivots rather than hard boundaries between different areas of life. For example, when I am at home and not traveling, I start my day at 4:30am responding to top priority work emails. Soon after that I go out for my morning run then come back to have breakfast with my family. I’d be in the office by 9am, work until 3pm then pick up the kids and take them to their after-school activities. We have dinner together and before going to bed, we’d catch up on the latest TED Talks to prepare for my next work presentation.
3 Core Principles of Work-Life Integration
- Be real – act with authenticity by clarifying what’s important to you
- Be whole – act with integrity by recognizing how the different parts of your life (work, home, community, self) affect one another
- Be innovative – you act with creativity by experimenting with how things get done in ways that are good for you and for the people around you. Doing this means thinking and talking about what truly inspires you, whatever that might be.
5 Ways to Achieve a Healthy Balance
1. Recognize what matters most to you
Work-life integration is not a one-size-fits-all approach. It’s important to identify what matters most to you.
Stewart Friedman, author of Leading the Life You Want, developed a simple writing exercise called the “Four Circles”, which is designed to help identify what matters most to you. For this, think of your life in terms of four domains – work, home, community and self – and create a “four-way attention chart”. The goal is for every day to be a “four-way win,” or fulfilling on all four levels. Check out Four Circles and find out what matters most to you.
2. Intentionally plan, schedule & remain committed to your boundaries
Time is our most precious resource. That’s why we have to be smart and intentionally plan how we spend our time. For example, it’s so easy for us to fill our calendars with meetings but we fail to block out family activities and focus time. That’s why I make the most out of MyAnalytics and stay on top of how I spend my time.
In addition, you may think that not using up your vacation days will take you far career-wise, but that’s hardly the truth. A research in 2012 at the University of Tampere in Finland shows that taking a trip – especially if you head to a different environment – has solid brain benefits, but these benefits scatter quickly and need to be replenished often.
3. Always be learning
Traditional learning has always been viewed as a time box – children attend school until age 18, and then either go to college or start working. Once they enter the workforce, most tend to stay in the same or similar job for their entire careers.
These days, jobs are changing rapidly. That’s why it’s important to subscribe to a growth mindset – always have a hunger for learning and focus on improving oneself.
4. Weave your passion into your everyday life
Your drive and energy are contagious to people around you. Since we have one life to live, why just go through the motions? You want to do things that are impactful, motivating and fun!
For example, the opportunity for me to infuse my love of food and technology in a weekly serving of educational short videos called #ChewNChat is exciting! Not only does it allow me to weave in my passion, it also serves as an additional marketing vehicle for AvePoint.
How about you? How will you weave in your passion into what you do?
5. Relentlessly give back
In the eternal words of Gandhi: “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” Regardless of your background, all of us should consider giving back and serving others. It can be as simple as volunteering at your local homeless shelter, sharing knowledge with your professional community or maybe even participating in formal outreach/mentoring projects.
When I first agreed to go serve underprivileged children in Uganda in 2016 by setting up a computer lab and teaching web development to kids, I had a grand vision of the impact I would make and how much the students would learn from the class. Boy, was I wrong! I’m sure the students got a lot out of it – however, I am certain that I benefited more from the 10-day trip. Here’s the five inspiring lessons I learned.
If possible, always strive to consistently give back and serve others regularly. Not only does this benefit the people you are helping, you’ll serve as a good role model to your family and friends which may inspire them to do the same.
I hope you found this post beneficial. I would love to hear from you! What tips can you share to achieve a healthy work-life integration balance?