Work Life Balance – Can You Have It All?

Work Life Balance – Can You Have It All?

‘Work life balance’ has been a catch phrase for a while.  It’s something almost everyone is telling us we need and most of us are struggling to achieve.  If you do a Google search on ‘work life balance,’ you’ll get about 270 million results; mostly articles from people offering tips for achieving work life balance.

Some of the articles have good advice, such as Balancing Act: Creating Harmony at Home and Work by Marcia Wieder, or How to Realistically Achieve Work-Life Balance by Rebecca Thorman.  Many equate achieving work life balance to ‘having it all.’ Is it true, or is it just the latest way for advertisers, media and so-called experts to make us feel as if we’re not good enough, that we need to have more and be more?

We spend millions of dollars each year on the latest books, the newest products, the best anti-anxiety drugs and the next generation electronics, trying to have it all and balance our lives.  But, they don’t seem to be making much of a difference for most of us.  We’re still stressed out and struggling to find that balance.

Oprah Winfrey is quoted as saying, “I’ve learned that you can’t have everything and do everything at the same time.”  Jack Welch has said, “There’s no such thing as work-life balance. There are work-life choices, and you make them, and they have consequences.”

If two of the wealthiest, most successful and notable people of our time challenge the notions of work life balance and having it all, why are we buying in to the hype?

Alain de Botton, a writer and ‘philosopher of everyday life,’ has been quoted as saying, “Everything worth fighting for unbalances your life.”  I think that’s true.  Maybe not having it all and having to struggle to gain balance, is a path for gaining wisdom, for personal growth and for becoming better people?  Or, maybe it’s all a matter of perspective and instead of focusing what we don’t have, we should focus on and be grateful for what we do have?

In one of my previous blogs, The Raging Debate – Lean In or Balance Out, I talk about a time I struggled with what’s considered work life balance.  I left a very demanding and time-consuming job for one that wasn’t as demanding so that I could spend more time with my daughter. According to Betsey Jacobson, “Balance is not better time management, but better boundary management.  Balance means making choices and enjoying those choices.”  In my case, she’s right.  It wasn’t about having it all, it was a matter of choice, knowing my priorities, setting boundaries and asking for what I wanted.

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Passionate advocate for the advancement and empowerment of women. Prior HR exec and co-founder of Ask Ajna - helping women find their voice in the workplace.

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