Achieving work-life balance is the Holy Grail for many of us. For women, the goal can be even more elusive especially if we work in a male-dominated field or if we’re the primary child caregivers. The challenge is further daunting when we consider the need to “lean in” and not step away from the table at critical points in our careers. Based on this, the keys to work-life balance go deeper than creating a flexible schedule or planning for regular downtime. They start with figuring out what that balance is and putting core structures in place to achieve it.
Work-life balance is different for everyone, and what one woman needs could be entirely different from someone else. You have to dig deeper and make sure your life is in line with what you value. Is it financial freedom? Is it being at home for your family? Or maybe not having to travel with your job? And do you find that your work fulfills you as much as other areas of your life? Analyzing these key aspects about yourself can give you a baseline for what you’re doing and what you wish you were doing more of. Be sure to read the blog I wrote about finding your path.
Another thing people focus on when trying to achieve work-life balance is finding the “ideal” job that has a schedule and deadlines that best fit their lives. According to How High-Powered Women Achieve Work-Life Balance in Forbes, is to develop a valuable skill set. Focus on doing something you love and will make you valuable in the eyes of an employer. This shifts the dynamic from being a worker who must fit into someone else’s schedule, to being a resource that has something that employers want and will pursue.
As you drill down to your values and build your talents, it’s essential to invest in a network of people who know what you do and know your career goals. They will be your partners, advocates, and mentors in identifying opportunities. They will also be a support system once you are in your position to help you juggle priorities, further your career, and build on your success. It takes a village and the value of relationships and allies is priceless!
Laying this groundwork will make it easier to have the work life you want and the home life you want, without feeling like you’re compromising or – worse – failing. Once you’re positioned to achieve balance, you’ll be better able to focus on the tactical, tangible things that can make the balance even more manageable. This means good old-fashioned systems of organization, delegation, expectations, and boundaries. For example, it is reasonable to not schedule meetings before 8:00 a.m., or step away from your iPhone after 8:00 pm, or schedule a yoga class during your lunch hour. Work-life balance involves creating solutions for work and life that leave you refreshed enough to do both jobs well. This can mean enlisting the help of others, doing less, or just saying no.
Having a career and a life outside the office is achievable. A career is meant to be rewarding, fulfilling, and an essential part of our identities. And having families, interests, hobbies, and roles in your personal life is just as important. There are ways to do both and to do both well, and with the right foundation and organization; you really can have it all!
Authored By Diedre Barret – Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Guaranty Bank