Generally, balance is seen as scaling between work and family – when a person is able to sufficiently meet family commitments and adequately perform responsibilities at work.
For me, there’s one major issue with the term work-life balance. First, the very phrase suggests that work isn’t part of your life, it’s separate. The majority of our time is spent at work, so if we look for balance all the time, it becomes elusive and rarely attainable, which means, you already start at a disadvantage.
Second, the work-live balance statement also presupposes that you are merely coping and most women want to be extremely successful at both.
Ultimately it should be about women being able to set boundaries and become assertive enough to say “no” to areas that don’t affect her life in a big or important way.
There are times when a woman will have to work really hard and long, and neglecting home and personal life. And there are times when she can choose to play hard and say “no” to work.
It all starts with a belief. Some women believe it’s impossible to be a good mother and have a successful career at the same time. They believe they would either be good at their job, or at motherhood, but not at both.
But I believe you can be extremely successful at work and be an outstanding mother all while looking gorgeous at the same time. I for one, had three adorable kids with special needs who needed more care and attention than ordinary children would. But I still managed a successful career, founded a company and always made time to look gorgeous all the time.
We are all different though, so what you choose as being most important, would be totally dependent on what you value and how you determine the worth of the things that really matter most to you.
The First step would be to determine what success really means to you personally.
There would always be one that’s given more priority than the other, and the sooner you decide which one, you can accept it, consent to it, and make it work by implementing coping means of the one you consider less important to you – but still want to greatly succeed at it.
It’s a fact before you can take care of anyone else you have to take care of yourself fist, meaning you need to feel balanced within yourself first.
Once you know how to do this with proper planning in all areas of your life, you can take total control of the constant niggling feelings of guilt and worry. Instead you will feel happier, more stable and strong, knowing you’re totally competent in harmonizing your work and family life.
This may seem daunting for some, but a lot of people have already done it, so there shouldn’t be any reason you can’t do the same. I too, have struggled to integrate my career and personal life at first, but eventually found the middle ground.
This is how I did it
Simply make the decision and commitment. Set clear boundaries and thereby finding the peace to make it work. If you don’t make the conscious decision to achieve that peace and fully commit to it, it’s unlikely you’ll succeed.
Realize that in order to achieve success you would have to give up some of your original goals and substitute them with new ones with different but equal challenges and results. There are various ways to skin the cat so to speak. Again, redefine your passion and purpose and stick to it.
Become more assertive in your communication styles as well. If you generally are the submissive type, acknowledge that first and then practice how to become more Assertive with things that don’t resonate with you or are not serving you in achieving your goals. Make sure your career remains challenging but not overwhelming by learning to say “no” to energy drainers. Most of us don’t like to refuse favors, new responsibilities, or even casual requests, for fear of looking undependable, or upsetting someone, or missing out on something. Do not assume responsibility for people’s feelings or emotions, I will talk more about this in another article.
However, make a point of seriously considering any request that comes your way, and double-check your schedule before taking anything else on that’s not in line with your objectives.
Our environments can contribute a lot to how effective we work and live, since everything is energy and either add to our personal energy pool, or distract from it. So, unclutter all areas, keep it organized as it will free up space in your mind to deal with the more important things in your life.
Always communicate your situation to your family. Regularly discuss with your husband and children their perceptions, opinions, and even objections about your work.
This will give you better insight into their feelings and aspirations, making it easier for you to manage their expectations and perceptions. Also ensure the entire family understands your obligations and responsibilities at work, so there would be more consideration from them.
Establish limits and clear boundaries between family and work. Determine which actions are acceptable and which ones unacceptable for at home or work. Boundaries protect your work from the distraction of family, and protect your family involvement from the obligations at work. For me these are all my Non-Negotiables and goes into a Non-Negotiable tray.
Be very disciplined about it and do not overstep these boundaries as it might lead to distrust and disgruntlement. This is hard but totally worth it, as closing your mind from work, will translate into giving quality time to your family and they’ll love you for it.
Ultimately you would also need to be able to switch work off completely, and give more time to yourself, just as much as you would to family in order to maintain a healthy body and mind.
It would be impossible to perfectly balance everything in your life at all times. For example, when a family member is sick, you may need to skip a work event. Or when an important deadline must be met, you might need to miss dinner at home and stay working in the office late.
Always ensure you have supportive means in place to deal with these occurrences. Ask for help, negotiate fairly for what you need, and learn how to delegate effectively and responsibly. For me these are in my Negotiables and goes into that Negotiable tray. So, from the beginning, plan for what is Negotiable and up for grabs and what is NOT.
At the office let superiors, colleagues, and management know what’s important to you, what you value, and how you want your life to be. Tell them what’s high on your priority so they would know when and how they can provide support. You would be surprised by how supportive colleagues can be.
For total peace of mind at the office ensure you leave your kids in capable hands. Find someone you feel comfortable and confident with. Get involved with these care providers by communicating frequently and observing interactions between caregiver and your child.
At home get your children involved with household tasks and work together as a team, it can be lots of fun. Recruit friends, family, neighbors as a support network in times when you simply can’t be there for your kids in emergencies or daily activities. Make sure that you return this favor when you have downtime and they need you too.
Understand that anything can change at a moment’s notice, just make sure you’re always ready and willing to assume responsibility for any of the tasks that need to get done at any time. And get rid of always trying to be a perfectionist, and forgive yourself when things don’t go according to plan. Be Gentle on yourself. And if you can’t, go see a personal Coach or Mentor who can work with you to get over that guilt we so easily succumb to…
By HAWA CHARFARAY