How’s Your Work-Life Relationship Workin’ for You?
Updated: Mar 5, 2020
Work-life balance. Work-life integration. Work-life harmony. Whatever you call it, it’s a topic that all of the mid-career women I work with want more of in their lives. And rightly so. Between juggling big jobs, family responsibilities, partnerships, involvement in the community, friendships, wellness, and struggling to find that elusive moment that may be just for you, there never seems to be enough energy and time to go ‘round.
As an advocate for women doing meaningful work and creating fulfilling lives, work-life balance is a topic that I champion. Because even the most significant work can lose its appeal when it leaves little to no time for your life. I meet mid-career women when they’re at these work-life crossroads. Wearing all the hats. Working in the manner that served them a decade/five years ago and is no longer working. Not sure exactly what it is, but clear that something’s got to give.
This topic hits home for me, too. My most recent professional shifts came not only from a desire to use my strengths and gifts to the fullest but from a need to work differently. My priorities shifted, and night and weekend work no longer worked. Not being able to work remotely or have a flexible schedule no longer worked. Exhausting commutes no longer worked. I wanted to do meaningful work AND have a full life.
What I know for sure after many conversations is that work that supports your full life looks different to everyone. There is no one-size-fits-all, and balance doesn’t always equal 50/50. It’s personal and requires clarity on your part. And that is what this article focuses on: your awareness of what work-life balance looks like to you. Whether your current role is no longer working, or you’re beginning a new search with work-life needs at the helm, consider how the below steps may support you in clarifying and moving towards what work-life equilibrium looks like for you.
Define what balance/integration/harmony means to you. So much of the time, what isn’t working is crystal clear, but coming up with what is ideal leaves you at a bit of a standstill. Give yourself the gift of introspection and begin to brainstorm what it looks like when you’re in alignment with your life. Getting clear on what you do want, your values, and your priorities are the most significant pieces of the puzzle.
Determine what you can let go and say no to. Rooted in your newfound clarity, give your work and life commitments an audit. What’s a supposed to or a should versus something that provides value to your work or life? What can you start saying no to on the should list to create space for what you do want in your work and life?
Delegate the dang thing and ask for help. I know, I know. If you’re wired anything like me, these are zingers and actions that take time to come naturally. But when your work-life isn’t working, it may be worth trying this step on for size. How could delegating and asking for help make you a better and more joyful leader/parent/partner in the long run?
Honor your boundaries. You’ve gotten this far. There ain’t no going back now. At least that’s the thought I’m planting in your head with this step. Getting clear, letting go and saying no, delegating, and asking for help is all tough stuff and deserves the respect of your boundaries. Protect those hell yeses. Stand tall in your solid no’s. And round up your troops (coaches, accountability buddies, mentors, etc.) to hold you to your vision of your ideal work-life. Who can you reach out to that can help you honor your boundaries and create the full life that you really want?
Refine, refresh, and renew. Knowing what you need to support your meaningful work and life isn’t a one and done—it’s a rinse and repeat over time. The more you flex your “creating your best work and life” muscles, the more it will be a regular practice. Give yourself permission to adjust and evolve as needed.
This article focuses on your clarity as a first step and the tiny, empowered actions you can take to begin advocating for greater alignment in work-life relationship. Maybe this clarity and activity have you wanting to explore this topic further with your current employer. Perhaps the information is the nail in the casket that begins a new job search for work that embraces balance, integration, and harmony. Regardless, it is valuable data that shows what you need to work AND live fully.
Call it what you like: Work-life balance. Work-life integration. Work-life harmony. No matter the term, what would it look like when you’re doing meaningful work and still have the energy to give to your life outside of the office? How would it feel to no longer have your work and life compartmentalized? Tell me, what’s your work-life relationship look like when it's working for you?