Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Work-Life -What?!?!

The Professional Gal.

A wispy blend of wittiness, a dose of significance, a pinch of experience, and size able of love…

Being it that it is just after Mothers Day, I figured I would do a piece on work-life balance, work-life integration about work-life "figure it out as you go." Because that is the best that you can do.
The strangest part about this topic to me is that, it is only women who have to answer the work-life question. It seems that only women have to find that good balance and be vocal about it because many times men are not asked how do they do it all. It is the internal struggle that I have to be sure I find time for everyone and everything including me. It is the battle that I face when determining just how motivated am I to succeed and at what price.

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A highly successful woman in HR once told me that when her family needs her she is there and when her work needs her she is there. (She is a Chief Human Resource Office for a Fortune 50 organization). Making these conscious choices is not for everyone however, and the choices do require a level of personal, and sometimes professional, sacrifice (depending on the choice).

For example, when I travel I am away from my husband and my 3 year old daughter. It requires that I spend time away from my family; while making sure they are aware that I love them very much-but need to be gone for work. Also being capable of performing my job on the road at high performance levels with minimal distractions.  (P.S. my family is not a distraction, but missing them and knowing they miss you can make things hard.)

This requires a great support system; going in both directions. I need a great support system at home and at work. I need to surround myself with people who I trust are capable and willing. Therefore when I am gone, from either work or home I know that everything and everyone is fine; that if I need my support I have it there. A great team is of the utmost importance.

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Now why did I not use the word balance? It is almost impossible to find a true balance between the two. The word "balance" implies that you will find a balance out of 100%. Therefore, giving only 50% to your work and 50% to your family. Regardless of what the percentage is, 70-30, 10-90, 50-50, no one will get the best out of you. Not your work and not your family, in those situations no one will win.

Ok. Let’s talk integration now. Well, in my mind integration also does not work because integration requires work and life to be joined together or incorporated. Again, I feel that this would not allow me to maintain a high level of performance in the work environment. I would be giving both less than 100%. Althought the person I am at work is pretty much the same person I am at home, I do not want  the to two to be joined togeher. Because sometimes I need time away from work with fmaily and time focused on family.

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I have found working with many highly successful women that have families (husbands, children, ect.) that it is not about the integration or the balance of work and life or life and work. It is more about setting the boundaries and determining what you are capable of doing and how much you are willing to sacrifice. There are times when you have to tell your work “no,” when you have to shut the iPhone or Blackberry off. There are times when you have to tell your family, “I can’t,” I may not be able to make it to every single basketball games-but I will be at every game that I possibly can. I may not kiss you goodnight every night-but I will call/face time/Skype you every single night.

Another example is when I had to deal with the hugely unexpected death of my grandmother, my family needed me and I needed them. At this point in time in my life I could not integrate my work into my life and I could not find a peaceful balance. I needed the majority of my focus to be on family and life until I could comprehend what was going on. That is when I knew there was no such thing as balance or integration. At that point in time I could not focus on my work and maintain a high level of performance, because my mind was so distracted.

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(She is why I try to figure it out as I go.)

There is no perfect combination of the two that will work for everyone. But there is a perfect combination that will work for you as an individual. The ability to find that combination requires much thought and a vast understanding of the sacrifice you may or may not be making in one direction. This is why there is not work-life balance or work-life integration; just a work-life figure it out as you go. With that Happy Mother’s Day.

As always, please feel free to send me topics you would like further insight into.

Be a part of a team. Lead with integrity. Remain committed to your core values.


The Young & Professional Gal.

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