It’s funny, when I started my career in my young twenties, I never thought deeply about how my career path would shift depending on where I was in my life. It might sound silly, but it was almost like it was out of sight, out of mind for me. In my mind, it was work, work, work, friends, friends, work, work… you get the point.
As long as I can remember, both of my parents always worked, and growing up with my two siblings, it never dawned on me that they were not only juggling raising us well and keeping us involved in sports and activities, but doing so while also trying to advance in their own careers and keep sane by maintaining social lives. The interesting thing is that they made it seem so effortless. Now, please don’t mistake what I am saying—I love my family dearly but it was not perfect and I know we had some times of uncertainty with jobs, but I don’t ever remember there being a discussion about my parents having to choose between having a family and career—it was just never an option and more times than not, it felt like there was a unspoken balance.
My parents, and in fact my sister and brother are some of the hardest working people I know. It’s in our DNA to stay busy, find new things to learn, make friends and soak in new opportunities to improve as people. That’s why again, when I was younger, I just never thought that when I had my own family that it would be something that I had to dedicate actual effort in making sure that there was truly a balance of all the ‘things’ to avoid burnout.
After having kids, my priorities obviously shifted and I found that I had to recalibrate the balance that I had working for me. At first, it was extremely uncomfortable and it took some time in understanding that it was okay to shift. As I mentioned, because I was had a very limited view before I had a family and kids, it seemed very unnatural for me to accept that there was life outside of work and friends!
We are in a time where employers and organizations are becoming more and more aware of how much business-sense it makes to take care of their employees. The focus on work/life balance and wellness is popping up all over the place as recruitment tools. Companies are seeing that there is a competitive edge if they can harvest the right kind of culture, which embodies the right balance of career and life. And, while I think that is fantastic—I am also aware that there may be a bit of the bandwagon effect happening where employers want to embrace this type of culture, but they may not have the resources in place to truly make it a reality. My personal take is that we have individual responsibility to own the balance.
My personal take is that we have individual responsibility to own ‘the balance’.
I’ve been fortunate in so many ways. I have an incredibly supportive husband, some of the best friends a girl could ask for and a family that has stuck by me through thick and thin. I’ve also been so lucky to have landed in jobs that truly embrace the meaning of balance and understand that having a career didn’t mean that you had to pick one or the other—especially as a woman who was growing her family. Yet, I’ve realized that it’s not only important to simply find that balance, it’s also equally important to continually evaluate to ensure that balance is still the right formula for you in the moment where you are.
I love being able to reflect and take a few steps every now and then to get the full picture again. Take it all in, and reset. One of the ways I found has been helpful, has been by journaling. If you don’t have a journal that you spend a jotting thoughts down in daily, I highly suggest this one: The Five Minute Journal: A Happier You in 5 Minutes a Day.
I am constantly learning and reading about improving my balance and can only hope that we continue to foster healthy ways to live and work so that when my kids are in my shoes it is second-nature and not something that they actively have to work on—it just is the way life is.