By Cindy Cheatham
Senior Consultant, TLG
Work-life integration has been a major theme of my professional life.
I have always sought to optimize the right balance and integration of my work with the pursuit of personal passions and making time for community service. All the best professional career coaches would advise someone to look holistically at their life and where the intersection of their skills, passion, purpose, and values are reflected. It is harder to do this because it requires a lot of self-reflection and not all of us have the benefit of valuing this or having help with counseling, coaching, or self-reflection.
For example, when I graduated from business school, I worked in corporate strategy consulting but with my passion for bringing good management and leadership to community causes, I was able to influence Bain & Company to do a pro bono project with Boys & Girls Clubs of America. I also put together a peer-giving circle when at Bain to find colleagues who shared a passion for generosity and community engagement.
Work-life Integration Through Purpose and Passion
Now, as a business owner, I am able to align my personal, professional, and family life by being proactive in pursuing client work that is most aligned with my core passion and interests as well as the type of people and organizations that I enjoy working with. I have integrated work with small business owners as well as strategy and management consulting work with social change leaders. My passion is working with leaders so as I have developed and cultivated a wide range of work with leaders, I am continuing to expand that work through increased work in executive coaching which I started over 25 years ago but have honed my skills and professional credentials in this area.
As a business owner, I generally have more control of my schedule so I can choose to work early mornings or nights in order to take a long weekend to accompany my kids to tennis tournaments, or now with them in college, to visit friends or family. I also make it a top priority to try to block my calendar for key exercises including my weekly ALTA tennis on Thursdays whenever possible. If a work commitment cannot be scheduled accordingly, I do not make myself available, but I am usually able to.
Reflection and Evaluation
Not everyone holds this kind of flexibility in the schedule, but the key is to be goal-oriented and to be planful with our careers and our career direction. I have a professional and personal vision statement that are integrated. My vision is to help people and organizations to identify their purpose and to develop a road map to meet that purpose. My life and my work are all grounded in that vision including my volunteer board work and my work in my church and community.
Many of the most successful people pursue work and lose themselves along the way. It pays off to pause and reflect, does this whole life and how I am living at work, at home, in my neighborhood, in my community, and in my health reflect the best version of myself? COVID caused a lot of people to reevaluate and make significant decisions. Let’s not have to wait for another pandemic to value the opportunity to create the most meaningful and purposeful integrated life. You can have work-life integration today – don’t wait!