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Why It’s Time We Stop Chasing “Work-Life Balance”

Written by Director of Marketing, Kathy Walsh

How many times have you heard people refer to “work-life balance?” Google it, and you’ll find literally millions of results: “6 Tips For Better Work-Life Balance,” “Rethinking the Work-Life Equation,” “The Link Between Work-Life Balance and Income,” “The Six Components of Work-Life Balance,” –the list goes on and on. It’s clear this is a topic that strikes home for many of us in the workforce who struggle to juggle the demands—and opportunities—of our professional careers along with personal goals and priorities, whether families, hobbies, friends, passions, etc.

Yet despite the plethora of information out there on how to achieve that elusive “ideal balance” of work and life, I don’t know of a single person who has ever achieved it! Over the course of my 25+ year career, I certainly haven’t, and I personally think it’s time we all stop chasing that unrealistic goal. In fact, I’m choosing to approach the subject from a whole new perspective, and when I shared that perspective recently with a group of a few hundred area business professionals, the positive feedback I received was so overwhelming, it prompted me to share it via this blog as well. Here’s what I said:

I think of balance as a seesaw rather than a tightrope: sometimes you are up high in the air wondering if you are going to fly off, sometimes you are ricocheting off the ground after a hard landing, and both of those can be more exhilarating than wobbling to stay balanced in the middle. At the end of each day, do I feel good about what I did and who I showed up for, whether it was my job, my family, my friends, my social causes or myself? The trick is being mindful of where you are needed most that week, day or moment and then aligning your priorities in the context of those needs.

I’m certainly not saying I have all the answers, but I do have one personal sign I’m on the right track: when I recently asked my two teenage daughters if they thought my executive position, which requires I travel to Baltimore each day, impacted our family in a negative way, I got an unequivocal “absolutely not” from both of them, which makes me feel like I’m doing something right!

So my advice is, don’t try for sustained balance, but embrace the seesaw ride and the next time you’re hitting the ground, push off, hold on tight and soar back up to the sky, guilt-free!