Last evening, when my 11-year-old son begged me to play soccer with him (his favorite indoor past-time), and I said “no” for the tenth time (because I was feverishly writing my 100th work email for the day), I stopped in my tracks.
I lifted my fingers off the keyboard, swiveled around in my deskchair, looked into his eyes, and gave him a big, long hug. I decided to walk away from working, and play indoor soccer instead. (My daughter joined too, and we had a complete blast, laughing hysterically the entire time).
This morning, I began thinking (again) about work-life balance. What is it, truly? How do we (should we) define it?
I believe each of us needs to define it exactly the way we want to, but for me, work-life balance means these things:
- I have control over what I say “yes” and “no” to (in work and at home)
- I feel good about my choices (I’m not over-ridden with guilt, confusion, and resentment over what I’m doing)
- I’ve stopped over-functioning – doing more than necessary, more than is healthy and more than appropriate (in both my family life and at work)
- I’m conscious of what motivates me to act as I do, and I’m ok with those motivations
- I’ve overcome my addiction to work
- I’m clear about how my behavior as a professional woman might impact (and provide a role model for) my husband, children, and others
- I’m open to feedback from others about my behavior, and I modify appropriately
If I can say the above statements regularly, I feel I’m striking an important balance between my personal life, my work life, and the identities of both.
And when I can say the above statements with surety, it also means that my life is unfolding in a way that makes space for the following positive outcomes:
- I’m dealing head-on with my responsibilities, in an empowered way
- I’m doing what’s necessary to keep me and my family secure and growing
- I’m observing that what I do matters
- I’m coping well with my stress
- I’m open about when I need help (and clear when I don’t want any more help)
- I feel in control
- My family is doing well, and my personal life is satisfying
- My work is going well, and my career is satisfying
No small thing, work-life balance, is it?
I’d love to hear from you…what does work-life balance mean to you? How do you know when you have it, and when you don’t? Do you believe work-life balance is achievable, in this day and age, and during chaotic times like ours?