Life Roles and Work Integration

We all have many life roles. The mum, dad, brother, son, employee. How do we balance these relationships whilst living in a fast-paced world? We have all heard the phrases of work-life balance and work-life integration. But what does it mean to have either? How does integrating work and balance of life roles impact your overall wellbeing?

So, what does work-life integrating mean?

Unlike the compartmentalised nature of work-life balance, work-life integration seeds balance throughout the day, opting for both work and personal balance in each moment. Work-life balance refers to clear divides of time and energy. Both can create steadiness and many useful functions. However, a constant in both is Key Life Roles, which impact satisfaction and overall wellbeing depending on execution and order. Human beings are incredibly versatile and adaptive creatures that possess many key life roles throughout a life’s journey. These are working together, simultaneously.

Research on overall health links a work-life intergration to a positive overall balance of health and wellbeing. We have many roles beyond a professional job title: a dad, a son, brother, and a business coach. Within the walls of your home, this may include a dog walker, a cook, a housekeeper and an avid fixer-upper. These are roles and have specific demands and time, energy, and attention requirements. They are usually held many at once and can be a source of tension when allocating resources to meet the needs. We feel the strain of weight upon our shoulders, rooted in the responsibilities of our roles.

Work-Life Integration & Practice

Working within the framework of work-life integration,  you can define and enrich your roles. You learn to know where you offer or receive support leading to a positive impact on health. Balancing work and non-work are critical to one’s wellbeing.

Integrating life roles is all about identifying and creating an identity for all of you. Looking at all of the functions of the parts you play in life. Professional, personal, family, community – all are relevant to thriving as an individual and contributing to the lives of those you care about most. Life roles may also be reflected in your core values, with those most important to you represented in a Life Role Map and your expression of values. A Life Role Map is a visual representation of all of the relationships in your life. It is a valuable, helpful tool to help prioritise where to invest your time and energy. 

A previous purpose statement was ‘To be a great Dad, loving husband and an extraordinary coach.” In discovering my subsequent purpose statement (to make dreams come true), I realised that my former purpose statement still had immense value in my life. These have since become my Key Life Roles, which sit alongside my purpose statement for inspiration and direction.

Over time, it has become clear that I occupy many life roles and that the concept of a “life role” adds value, especially toward how I prioritise the relationships in my life.

Questions to consider

  • In order of importance, which are essential people in your life right now?
  • Who do you spend the most time with? Speak to the most often, or with the grandest intention?
  • What roles do you currently play:
    • In your family?
    • At work?
    • In your community?
  • How might you simplify or integrate these roles to maximise the energy and impact you can contribute?

After building a life role map, you can reflect on aspirations, changes and improvements. The picture of your life role map will be ever-changing, but it’s yours to carve! It is mainly in your control when you commit to conscious effort to build and maintain excellent great relationships around you. You can apply work-life integration once you understand your life role map.

Action Plan: Define and Reflect

  • Mapping key life roles: Start by identifying and mapping your life roles, which may reveal just how many significant parts you play in the lives of others. For me, this began with a positive focus on my role as a husband and a father first. You will be able to identify then which roles and where there may be gaps or areas to improve.
  • Self-care first – relationships second (even the most important ones): For example. When I reflected on my key life roles, my investment in self-care was paramount and had to precede my roles as husband and father. If I am not healthy and with enough energy to play my crucial key life roles, I cannot fulfil those responsibilities. What does self-care look like for you? Does it currently have to stand amongst your key life roles?

Action Plan: Managing Roles

  • Non-judgemental approach to mapping life role: It is essential to recognise that the life role map is very personal and requires a non-judgemental perspective. It may feel challenging to place certain people towards the outermost circle of your map. However, this creates opportunity, especially regarding the future investment of time, care and energy toward that individual.
  • Integrate AND Compartmentalise: Most of us compartmentalise life roles. Integrating life roles involves experiencing multiple functions simultaneously and seamlessly without sacrificing energy for each role. For example, picture a big family reunion. Multiple different generations, with a wide range of ages and other individual relationships. Family games, where everyone has a laugh and celebrates success and failure together, bring memorable moments for everyone and for every life role that each person occupies.
  • Adding a new role: Life roles become particularly meaningful when they appear for the first time. Some we barely notice, such as when we come into this world and become a son or daughter. However, on the other hand, becoming a parent is unforgettable.
  • Subtracting a role: Roles can also be lost. Sometimes voluntarily, such as resigning from a job or stepping down from a volunteering role. In this case, it is a matter of “letting go” of the responsibilities of the recent past, usually to be replaced with another new adventure (e.g. changing jobs). On the other hand, unexpected loss of role through death or divorce may be catastrophic. It is a genuine challenge that requires every ounce of resilience and strength.

Action Plan: Building Identity

Critical career decisions and the courage to take on new roles and responsibilities define your self-assurance. For example, my key points for me have included:

  • Moving from Canada to the UK to begin a career in pharmaceuticals
  • Transitioning from home-based / car-based sales to head office marketing role
  • Managing a team for the first time
  • Moving from Scotland to New Zealand and redefining myself from “pharmaceutical marketing executive” to “business development coach”, touching nearly any industry
  • Management consultant to corporate executive coach
  • Employee mindset to entrepreneurs mindset when I started my own business

I am proud to have occupied so many different roles throughout my career. Work integrating amongst this has genuinely been a positive for my wellbeing. Equally important, I have reflected on the sum of these experiences that my clients are paying for and the business and personal development coach training that I have invested in.

Success in managing life roles is honest, whole, and authentic to each one. You act authentically towards what is important to you whilst creating holistic integrity with juggling the many roles. It’s not always easy. But you can succeed within a curated framework on the foundations of unity that supports all roles.

Want to explore your crucial life roles?


About the author

Christopher Miller

Christopher Miller

I am passionate about helping and inspiring small business owners to create their purpose, live their values and experience success, happiness and fulfilment by owning a business they can be proud of.
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