We hear a lot on work-life balance, and it is of great concern to many company cultures focused on the well-being of their employees. It comes up in businesses of all sizes, and finds it way to most annual associate surveys. It is part of the struggle of working within the home that often gets a stay at home spouse off kilter. Maintaining a healthy work-life balance is definitely attainable, but it takes some commitment, and a bit of thought.
What’s Important to You? Before really getting into action, take a step back, and think about how you’ll know you have a healthy balance between work and home life. List out your non-negotiables. These are the activities and moments you feel are important to you both in your career and outside of your career. For example, for me, being at our daughter’s horse lessons, and volunteering are important, and I am not willing to give those activities up on a regular basis. Dinner as a family is another one. At the office, mentoring opportunities are important to me. Listing out what is important to you helps determine when to say yes, and when to say no.
Set Boundaries and Limits. Basically, say no. I know, I know, what will people think? Honestly, it doesn’t matter, and you cannot control it anyway. Going through life worrying about what others think is like handing over the keys to your life to a complete stranger. If we want balance, we have to learn to say no. I have found that saying no is not only powerful, it also allows others to do the same. Being really clear on how we choose to spend our time shows others how to do that, too.
Use Available Resources and Ask for Help. When I had our daughter, my world skidded off track in a major way. I faced postpartum depression, and was overwhelmed, but I didn’t know how to ask for help. So I suffered, and so did most folks around me. It is always okay to ask for help. It is not weakness. There is a quote by Haruki Murakami that I kept close when I was struggling: “Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.” Ask for help, and leverage the resources available to you. Companies often offer counseling and help, communities have support groups, and friends and family may be able to lend a hand.
Let Go of Perfection. Ugh. I kind of saved the best for last. Let’s be honest here, this is a doozy. The relentless pursuit of perfection is the emotional death bell for many women. Many of us aspire for everything to be perfect. We look perfect, the kids are perfect, the house is perfect, dinner is perfect…It goes on and on. The cost is staggering. And here’s the thing, perfection is never, ever attainable. Let yourself off the hook. Give yourself permission to be the imperfect, beautiful soul that you are. That’s really what people appreciate anyway.
Putting It All Together
Take the time to identify what’s important to you. Once you have, it makes decision making so much easier. Say no to activities that don’t serve your needs, and ask for help when you are struggling. And lastly, let go of the relentless pursuit of perfection, and spend your life enjoying the relationships and moments that touch you.