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?