The Truth about the Work-Life Balance

work-life balance the unsaid truth“You can have it all!” We’re all familiar with those five short words, the rallying cry of powerful women around the world.

Unfortunately, those words are a lie. A woman cannot have it all, and neither can a man.

The best we can strive for is a compromise between the things we have to do, and those which are most important to us (which may not be the same things).

When those two things are in equilibrium, when work and life are in balance, we can be simultaneously happy and productive.

But finding that work-life balance isn’t easy: it takes time, effort, and experimentation to find what works for you.

And circumstances are always in flux: if you get a new job, want a promotion, start a new relationship, have a child, or any manner of other changes occur, you might well need, and want, to shift that work-life balance again.

A woman cannot have it all, and neither can a man. Those words are a lie.Click To Tweet

Here are five truths that are important to know about the work-life balance.

The Work-Life Balance – The Unsaid Truth

Truth 1: Work-life balance doesn’t mean you have to spend equal amounts of time working and enjoying yourself.

If you spend an hour working, that doesn’t mean you have to (or will be able to) spend an hour doing the things you love.

The intensity of the activities, the amount of effort you expend, and the order of priority in which you do things should all be taken into account.

Truth 2: The “sweet point” in your work-life balance is unique to you.

No one else can tell you what really matters in your life: it is up to you to decide. It could be your qualifications, salary, and professional reputation; it could be spending time with your friends and family, travelling, volunteering or shopping; it could be a combination of factors.

In order to find the right work-life balance for you, you have to be honest with yourself about what makes you feel fulfilled and content.

Truth 3: Your work-life balance will always be in flux.

work-life balance the truthIf you are fortunate enough to strike a work-life balance which works for you, congratulations!

But beware that as your life changes, so too will the most satisfying balance between your personal and professional lives.

Be attentive to yourself, your needs and desires, and those of the people around you.

Be prepared to compromise, with others as well as with yourself, and the delicate work-life balance point will be significantly easier to find.

Truth 4: The people around you will have a significant impact on your work-life balance.

No woman is an island, and few of us exist – or would want to – in isolation.

We all have multiple relationships, personal and professional, and the wellbeing of those around us inevitably impacts upon our own situation.

If a colleague needs support during a difficult period in their life, you might well need to pick up the baton on their behalf at work and run with it.

Likewise, there will be occasions in your own life when you need to fulfil personal or professional obligations, regardless of your own feelings, and have to temporarily adapt your work-life balance accordingly.

Truth 5: It’s worth investing in the work side of your work-life balance when you can, in case you later need to take time in lieu.

work-life balance the truth You never know what lies ahead, and it’s better to store up brownie points in advance if you can.

If you have the opportunity to work a few extra hours, to go beyond the call of duty, and to show your employer you are conscientious, do so.

It will stand you in good stead in the future if you then need to negotiate time off, or to devote more of your attention to personal affairs. Plan ahead for those rainy days.

So if you want to move forward in your personal and professional lives, to strike the work-life balance which can make you fulfilled right now, what are you going to do?

Truth 6: A critical component of success is timing

The work-life balance you strike should be appropriate for a particular time in your life: it does not have to be set in concrete.

If you have a particular ambition, or something you have set your heart on, be prepared to shift your work-life balance in one direction temporarily.

You might, for example, need to focus on work for a certain period in the run up to a professional review or in a bid to get a promotion, or decide that the run up to your wedding or another big personal event means that you need to scale back your work, dedicating the bulk of your time and energy to that instead.

Work-Life Balance Tips 

As much as we might like to have it all, the truth is that we can’t: we all have to find a feasible work-life balance if we want to be productive and fulfilled.

Here are a few tips to help you find that ‘sweet spot’ in that all-important balancing act.

  1. Be clear about what is important to you, as the “sweet point” in your work-life balance is unique to you.
  2. Be sensitive to others, since those around you will have a significant impact on your work-life balance.
  3. Consider timing in the realisation of your goals
  4. Plan ahead for rainy days in case you need to take time in lieu.
  5. Be flexible as your work-life balance will always be in flux.

Over to you

Do you believe a man or woman can have it all?

If you want to move forward in your personal and professional lives, to strike the work-life balance which can make you fulfilled right now, what are you going to do? What are you going to prioritise? What are you prepared to compromise on, now and in the future?

Photo credit: Stuart Miles and franky242 @freedigitalphotos.net

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8 Comments

  1. I think you can have it all but like you say it’s all relevant to the individual. What works for one, may not for another. Life is a balancing act and also a juggling act, once you’ve found a way to make it work smoothly that’s when you know you’ve nailed it. A really insightful post, you’ve inspired me to keep on truckin’

  2. We’re still trying to find that Work vs Life balance! It’s what we compromise on that’s causing difficulty. Great tips…just wish there was more hours in the day!

  3. I left work due to the inflexibility of my role and the lack of work life balance

    1. Hi Kara, thank you for taking the time to leave your comments. It’s unfortunate some companies still don’t offer flexible working to their employees. Flexible working is good for work-life balance and offers a win-win solution for both parties.

  4. Work life balance is very individual to each person and their lifestyle and circumstances.It will vary with each person and their circumstances.

  5. As someone who has been in the workforce for almost 40 years, I can attest that this is absolutely true and it’s definitely saying a lot of the things I’ve been thinking. I have strong workaholic tendencies, so it’s almost always my family life that gets the short end of the stick. I struggle with that sometimes, but on the other hand, I’ve ended up with kids who are confident, self-reliant, and manage their now-adult lives quite well without a whole lot of help from me or my husband. Some of these kids with the helicopter parents, I wonder sometimes how they are going to do in life. But yes, I think women definitely have been sold a poor bill of goods that we can “have it all” and not drive ourselves crazy in the process. Time to relax and think a bit more like a man. Maybe we could unload the dishwasher and celebrate the accomplishment by watching a 3 hour football game, for instance!

  6. Procrastination is my biggest hurdle when it comes to balance. I will spend 10 mins supposedly doing whatever but wander off on a tangent be that on the computer in the kitchen or out shopping.

  7. I believe I have as close as I possible can to my ideal balance. I work for myself, which fits around my family, but I still feel guilty a lot of the time! Kaz x

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