Trying to Achieve a ‘Balanced Life’ Always Makes Me Feel Off Balance. How About an Integrated Life?

I’ve been thinking lately about the idea of living a balanced life. Everybody I talk to seems to be struggling in their lives with this mythical thing called balance. It always just seems out of reach, particularly for women. Truthfully, I believe the whole concept sets us all up for failure.

Based on a friend’s suggestion, I’m going to forget about balance and try to lead what I’m referring to as an integrated life.

I hosted a barbecue recently where I had my kids and their friends, family friends, personal friends and professional friends all mingling together. It was wonderful having all those different ages, experiences and relationships melded together. It felt real. It felt right.

Like many of you, I get in the habit of putting aspects of my life (family, personal, professional) into compartments and then trying to attend to all of them equally, at different times. That kind of balance is impossible, so I thought: why not bring my whole wide world together more often? I’d prefer look at my life as a whole, not as segregated parts that I need to juggle or balance on some life seesaw. I think the pursuit of integration could bring us much more joy than the pursuit of balance.

What do you think about the idea of living an integrated life as opposed to a balanced life?

I’d love to hear your thoughts below. Join the conversation.


About the Author

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Maria Shriver is a mother of four, a Peabody and Emmy Award-winning journalist and producer, a six-time New York Times best-selling author, and an NBC News Special Anchor covering the shifting roles, emerging power and evolving needs of women in modern life. Since 2009, Shriver has produced a groundbreaking series of Shriver Reports that chronicle and explore seismic shifts in the American culture and society affecting women today. Shriver was California’s First Lady from 2003 to 2010 and, during that time, she spearheaded what became the nation's premier forum for women, The Women's Conference. Shriver's work is driven by her belief that all of us have the ability to be what she calls Architects of Change -- people who see a problem in their own life or the community around them, then step out of their comfort zone and do what it takes to create the solution. Like her page on Facebook or follow her on Instagram.

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