Can you have balance across all areas of your life? At any time, but especially in times of change or peak periods? And would we want balance if we could have it?

Balance is defined as a situation in which different things exist in equal amounts. 

When we say we want work/life balance, I wonder do we actually mean work/life integration? Now, our definition shifts to the process of combining things so that they work together.

A wise woman (thank you, Iona) shared this way of thinking with me in around 2013 and light bulbs went on. I’d been trying to create a life with all the things that were important to me in it without respecting the hours in my day or the energy I had to create it.

I’d bought into the expectation supported by the feedback I was getting that I was being successful, I was admired, this was what I’d wanted. I was doing purposeful work, making a difference to my clients and colleagues. I had a great relationship where I provided support, comfort and love. I enjoyed time with friends and family. I was part of an orchestra and was learning how to teach Pilates. I was rocking it all.

Only I wasn’t. Life wasn’t balanced. It dipped in and out of alignment with my values. I was in Superwoman more often than I wasn’t and my boundaries were beyond blurry. I was exhausted and experiencing very little joy.

The realisation that I needed to do things differently was hard. It went against the approvals and the tacit agreement that this is what successful women do. 

And so my journey began. Exploring, defining, trialling, failing, redefining and rethinking into what made me be able to find greater joy more easily and say to YES it in all aspects of my life.

Sarae looking out over water

For me, I needed to tackle both the practicalities and my perceived realities. Let me explain.

I had to change my mindset, what I believed to be successful. Yes, I got those promotions and boy did I work for them. Yes, I got great evals from line reports and from coaching or training participants. Yes, I had abs and (amazingly) toned muscles from teaching 8+ hours of Pilates on top of my 0.9 job each week. Yes, I travelled to friends, holidays and work in cool places.

I had to decided what wasn’t serving me. I love what I do – I enable others to live their best life and it is why I continue to blend my core skills of coaching, training and Pilates into my career today. I love being the best sister and fairy godmother I can be. I love being around water and pushing myself to be bolder and braver in those sporty moments. I discovered my value of Liberty – the freedom to have choice or autonomy – was more important to me than the perceived successes from new job titles and travelling to another business hotel.

The hardest was reassessing what I wanted and valued in relationships. Some no longer fit with this new mindset and I needed to nurture or find others that enriched me. I use a tool called the “Hearth and Realm” with my clients.

Sarae wearing her TYE4 doing Pilates

The Hearth, the space of the Mother Powertype, filled with unconditional love and acceptance, called to my sense of worth. I’m a good, nice, generous person if I’m giving my all to everyone I can cram in around my hearth.

My realm was equally crammed – between my work projects, campaigns and activities for other organisations I believed in, writing to MPs or key decision-makers or supporting others’ realms. The Realm is the Queen’s space to hold the vision, make decisions and seek counsel on moving forward in service together. Mine was being nudged to the side by a strong Warrioress, the take action, go-getter Power type. Action equals success, right?

I was in a constant state of giving, sacrifice and believing that this made me happy. Others certainly thought it did.

With my coach, I stripped back on those invited into both my Hearth and Realm, as well as building my Queen’s authority to managing me. In all of this, I’d been managing and leading others and neglecting myself.

Integration also came through Sorceress’ wisdom and connection with my inner self. I needed to clear space for new ideas to be planted and grow. This is an ongoing practice of daily clearing, emotional hygiene and daily gratitude – always ending with “this and more please”.

Sarae training a group

From a practical perspective, I now recognise I’m happiest in a portfolio career, doing a mix of things for different audiences, who I care for, deeply. I can give my best when I focus on the routines and rituals of my needs creed, especially around hydration, eating the rainbow and moving. Collaboration is at the centre of my best achievements and seeking out others to work with fires my imagination. (More on this at the end….)

I still have to watch out for those triggers to over-commit my time or energies – especially when I’m already stretched, the desire to give in to another episode on Netflix or that extra carb-heavy delight on days I’m feeling low.

My passion planner has the ability to help me see my reality and allocated in batches to match my energy, monthly cycle and the deadlines upon me. Colour coding by Powertype nudges me to use the bridging rituals I wrote about last week to switch energies.

Do I have an equal balance? Nope. Do I have integration? Absolutely, whilst recognising I’m human and will get it wrong at times. I’m closer to where I want to be. I have more space to be me in the ways I want to be. I’m experiencing more joy in ways I never expected, I spot it more often and I say YES to it on every occasion I’m offered.

I invite you to consider the notion of integration to achieve aligned living: could you be seeking integration into a work/life blend that honours your values and easily meets your needs? 

Over the next 2 months, I’m going to be running a series of mini workshops – if you’d like to explore your work/life integration, your hearth and realm or any other topics or themes in one of them, let me know. I’ve currently lined up 3 amazing women to bring their expertise alongside my own. Keep watching in the Haven for details.