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Success Essentials: How to Create an Integrated Life

If you aim for work-life balance but find yourself falling short, try setting your sights on creating an integrated life.

“Work always seems to be ahead of life,” says Bernadette McBurnie, a success coach and founder of the Women in Business Academy. McBurnie recommends a holistic approach that takes into account all the pieces of your life puzzle that matter to you.

In her enlightening masterclass, Success Essentials – Let go of the myth of work-life balance; create an integrated and fulfilling life, McBurnie asks us to visualize our ideal life and make intentional choices that move us closer to that vision. “Every decision, every choice we make, no matter how small, should be in support of the life we want to lead,” McBurnie says. “Achieving professional and financial success doesn’t mean you have to compromise when it comes to your happiness. Your happiness is not negotiable.”

3 Big Ideas to Create an Integrated Life

  1. Identify your “why.” Everyone has a deep-seated purpose that inspires them. “Find what drives you and emotionally connect with it,” McBurnie says. She maps out a four-step process to help create a successful and fulfilling life. The first step is discovery, in which you identify your purpose, vision, and guiding principles (your “why”). Step two is gaining clarity about your mission and goals. Step three is awareness, a chance to explore your self-esteem, beliefs, and resilience. In Step four, which involves having a plan, you must be willing to take action, as well as risks.
  2. Master purpose-driven self-leadership. When you work at the expense of your personal life, family, friends, health, or community activities, you can feel frustrated or burned out. You lack work-life balance. “Lead your life,” McBurnie says, “don’t let life drive you.” This starts with gaining clarity and direction to help conquer fears, boost confidence, and develop self-discipline. The goal is to build what McBurnie calls “purpose-driven self-leadership,” an approach that, when mastered, makes it possible to “earn more, love more, live more, and increase your ability to give back.”
  3. Make conscious choices to build the life you want. When you visualize the life you want, that image can serve as a compass that guides you when you make decisions, McBurnie says. If you seek work-life balance but find that work is always the priority, it’s time to reassess and make different choices. Recognizing that each choice either moves you closer to or further from success allows you to eliminate the distractions that pull you off course. “Be conscious of the choices you make, they create the life that you live,” McBurnie says.

Q&A with Bernadette McBurnie

When did you realize work-life balance seemed impossible?
When I started my own business, I wanted to be successful but I didn’t understand what that would mean. I was running my business from home with three kids under the age of seven. I was the anchor, as my husband was traveling for work a great deal. It was like I was a single mother. I had no family nearby. I had to learn patience, embrace my reality rather than fight it, and accept that I wasn’t superwoman. The choice I made was to hire a babysitter to give me hours I did not have. All this involved accepting that transformation takes time. I had to understand that my own work-life integration was an ongoing journey, not a destination. My happiness was not negotiable, and I was willing to do the work.

What tool has been the most helpful in creating an integrated life?
Making every choice intentional. I made a conscious choice to build the life I wanted. I knew I would have to make choices that would support my vision of success and my heart’s desire. No matter how trivial any one choice may look, each one matters. I have learned that I have the power to shape my life with the choices that I make every day.

What is your personal definition of success?
My definition of success is to live a life of wholeness, happiness, and freedom. Everything I do, every choice I make, is to create the life I desire.

Tune In Next Week

REGISTER HERE to attend the final, live-streaming Essentials to Thrive masterclass session in our 8-week series next Wednesday at 12:30 pm EST. Coming up:

  • May 27 – Happiness Essentials: Dive into the practices and techniques proven to increase your bliss. Speaker: Dave Meshkov, Managing Director, Head of Course Design at Knopman Marks Financial Training

If you missed McBurnie’s masterclass, a recording is available in the Training Center at You can also access the recordings and materials from previous sessions:

Suzanne Riss is an author and Director of Communications at Knopman Marks Financial Training. Previously the award-winning Editor-in-Chief of Working Mother magazine, she is a fierce advocate for issues facing working moms and an authority on work/life trends. Her expertise has been tapped in interviews by The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Good Morning America, the Today Show, and CNN. Suzanne's third book, Work Disrupted, published by Wiley, was released in January 2021.