Come Out of Your Box and Find Work-Life Synergy

Experience the joy, freedom and sense of purpose that comes with work-life synergy.

Image Licensed by Ingram Publishing

Image Licensed by Ingram Publishing


Many years ago when I was a young lawyer, eager to learn, I had a conversation with a senior partner at my firm. He told me that part of his success had to do with the fact that he was able to put things in boxes and focus on one box at a time – he had a work box, a family box, a house box, a friend box, etc. I thought: “Great, I will try that”. And try I did. But it never worked for me.   I could not separate things in my work and life out like that.

Fast forward to May 2012 when my daughter and I were visiting our “Aunty Margo” in BC. Margo showed me a very funny video – Men’s Brains vs. Women’s Brains—less than 11 minutes long. It made me laugh, and still does. My husband laughed too, when I returned home and showed it to him.  The gist of it is that men’s brains love to box things up, much like that senior partner shared with me.   But women’s brains see everything as connected; we have difficulty separating the parts of our lives into those different boxes. So while I laugh, I also feel that what the comedian is saying is true. In the work-life synergy lunch I hosted here at my house in late October, I mentioned this idea of not boxing everything up, but rather, first, acknowledging that we are more likely to see everything as connected, and then second, leveraging those connections, finding the synergies between work and life. The idea seemed to resonate in the circle of women.

I had a further insight about this today. This morning I took a long walk with a new friend I made through my Feminine Power course, Marni Levitt of Move-N-Music.  Marni has some really inspiring projects and programs going on! The walk really energized me and afterwards I meditated for a few minutes – it felt good to finally sit down! While I was meditating, I made the connection between the boxes in the above anecdote and the idea of boxes related to the growth mindset (one of my favourite topics, since it is so life-changing). In my workshops about the growth mindset, I talk about how being in a fixed mindset is like putting yourself and/or others in a box, which can be very limiting. Whereas, stepping into a growth mindset is like being in a beautiful landscape, wide-open with possibilities.

Another theme that emerged in the lunch was vulnerability.   It struck me this morning that being out of the box, seeing everything as connected and leveraging and synergizing those parts, is like being in that same beautiful landscape, wide-open with possibilities. And a wide-open landscape can feel vulnerable. It makes me think of the mama grizzly bear and her two cubs I was watching on TV this past weekend with my family. We had to change the channel because it became “too scary” when two hungry male grizzlies were circling the mama and cubs who had nowhere to hide. Ugh. Vulnerability. Visibility. Even Danger. Being out of our box is risky and can feel scary. But there is so much potential for freedom and joy and a great sense of purpose!

To me, the excitement in that potential far outweighs the risks. Are you with me?  Are you willing to leave the boxes behind and find that wide-open landscape of possibilities and work-life synergy? You will have company and support if you want it! You won’t be alone like the mama bear and her cubs… Maybe you are already there – I am waving to you!

Author: Milisa Burns

Milisa Burns is a certified professional coach, former lawyer and married mother of three, with her own website:

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