In the struggle for work-life balance, we often find ourselves trapped between the urgent and the important. The urgent always wins, and the important gets shoved aside. But if we want to take control of our professional and personal lives, we have to turn this around.
The path from being a guilt-ridden “working parent” to being a fulfilled career-loving parent isn’t an easy one. It requires getting really clear about your values, about your goals, about what’s truly important to you. And that’s just the beginning. But, as we’ve discussed before (see What’s your work-life style?), a key step is simply understanding yourself. After all, work-life balance (or better yet, work-life balancing) means different things to different people, and how will you know if you’ve got it if you don’t know what it is?
What does it really take to keep your head and your heart while keeping your job? How can you bring your whole self to work? Is it really possible to write your own ticket to a better job and better work-life balance?
If you live in the United States, odds are that you don’t take all the vacation time allotted by your employer. Worse than that, when you do take a vacation, odds are that you’re working, at least a little bit, during that paid time off. A 2012 study by online travel company Expedia and Harris Interactive showed that U.S. workers left about 10% of their vacation days unused (compared to about 2% of the rest of the world), while 45% of them checked work-related email or voice mail while on vacation. I recently spoke with vacation expert Scott Petoff of […]
Estimated reading time: The dynamics of work and family have shifted dramatically in my lifetime. Today, more parents than ever juggle jobs and family responsibilities. For most, this is an economic necessity, a by-product of a rising cost of living and stagnant wages*. And for many — especially those who actually enjoy their work — this juggling act is an almost constant source of guilt. When we’re at work, we feel guilty for the time away from our families. When we’re with our families, we feel guilty for what we’re not getting done at work.
Estimated reading time: One of the most overlooked keys to work-life balance is the work itself. Work that engages the mind, feeds the heart, and fuels the soul is much easier to integrate into a meaningful, fun, and fulfilling life. Unfortunately, research suggests that many of us are not doing work that excites us, and this is working against our desire keep our heads and our hearts while keeping our jobs.
At this time of year in much of the world, even the most work-devoted of us turn our attention to friends, family, and frivolity. We start figuring out how to maximize our paid holidays and spend our remaining floating holidays so that we can spend as much time as possible with our loved ones and as little time as possible at work. Of course, this strategy only works for a couple weeks — then it’s back to normal, and we need a new strategy for work-life balance.
Let’s get real: being a career-loving parent is stressful. Your goal is to love your family, love your work, and love your life, but that’s a lot to manage. Whether your chosen metaphor is spinning plates or juggling balls, you’ve got to admit that it makes you tense — and everyone once in a while (or once a day, in my case), you’re gonna drop something.
Estimated reading time: Once upon a time, many years ago, I worked with an unhappy woman. We’ll call her Sheila — because that’s her name. Sheila worked as a customer service representative, fielding questions about bills and payments from accounts payable clerks at big companies. It was a hard job, and after doing it for nearly nine years, Sheila was extraordinarily good at it. Though customers loved Sheila and her metrics were good, I wasn’t alone in finding her rather difficult to work with. What was the problem? Well, Sheila was what I like to call a compulsive problem identifier. […]
Estimated reading time: Twelve years ago, WorldatWork’s Alliance for Work-Life Progress established October as National Work & Family Month. It is recognized by businesses, academic institutions, federal agencies, members of Congress, work-life advocacy groups and individuals throughout the United States who believe that success at work and at home is not only possible, but pressing.