Is Trying to Achieve Work/Life Balance Like Trying to Find a Unicorn?

March 15, 2016 ~ Jen Cohen Crompton

 

Work life balance.

Is it a fairytale concept where a non-stressed, well-paid employee enjoys his/her work and also enjoys life almost equally. This picture perfect image of someone who has found “zen” in work and life is what most yearn for on a regular basis as they hit the daily grind and spend more of their day wanting to be somewhere else than exactly where they are in the moment.

For many who strive to strike the balance and unlock the secret to living this fairytale, they often view the work/life balance concept as they do a unicorn – a mythological “thing” that is heard of, yet never actually seen. Because of its rarity, we are a population emotionally suffering from the effects of feeling less than fulfilled, falling short on taking care of ourselves and others in the way we really should, and not experiencing anything close to all the amazingness that life has to offer.

The work/life balance term is widely used, but often interpreted differently from person-to-person based on perspective and experience. Work/life balance for one may not be the same for another and the implications and allowances related to the concept will always vary.

It’s the idea of working to live instead of living to work. Unfortunately, for most of us, our economic situations, societal expectations, and the constant pressure to keep up with the Joneses is killing the vibe and often overtakes our lives and prevents us from finding that work/life balance.

 There is hope.

As the Millennial generation fills the workforce, the work/life balance expectations from employees are changing and causing employers to react and accommodate these requests. Working remotely seamless collaboration even when we’re oceans apart, most companies understand that their most talented assets may be happier, more productive employees if they experience the work/life balance they expect.

Although this change in the workplace may take some time to gain traction, there are a few things that individuals, entrepreneurs, and small business owners can do to work toward achieving this concept.

Personalize the definition
Place percentages, times, and other constraints around work/life activities to figure out exactly what this work/life unicorn means to you. Outline what you want to achieve in your professional life and what you want to achieve in your personal life. This may take some time and some soul searching, but it will really help you get a handle on what is important to you. Knowing those goals will be key for the next step.

Set goals
When do you want to be exploring the world? When do you want to spend time with family? How do you want to feel when you’re with your family? What career milestones will fulfill you? How important is it to make a difference within your profession? Once you answer these questions, you will have a better idea of your priorities, and then you can figure out how the priorities fit into your life as a whole.

Define your limits
What are you willing to compromise and what are deal-breakers? Do you want to commute one hour each direction to get to and from your workplace? Maybe you do because you will get that promotion in six months, which will unlock some freedom and allow you to work from home one day a week. Or conversely, maybe you decide that your two hours in traffic would be better spent at home and you take a demotion to work remotely and be home to pick your kids up from school or make it to that family dinner across the bridge. Whatever the situation is, know what you want.

Make it happen
Now that you understand what work/life means to you and what you want, you have the knowledge and power to go make it happen. Talk to your supervisor and request changes to your position and responsibilities. Go out on your own and start a business. Or change the way you structure your day as an entrepreneur.
While the work/life balance concept may take time to achieve – through a change in circumstances, a reevaluation of priorities, or activating a plan toward your personal work/life definition – know that it is possible.

Jen Cohen Crompton
Jen Cohen Crompton
Jen is the Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the Neat Company and a small business owner. Her unique experience mixes technology with marketing and writing, and while working with Neat, she has become a bit of a productivity and organization guru. Jen has contributed to articles published on Yahoo, Entrepreneur, Digitalist Mag, and other small business and technology resources. You may also see her “talking tech” on local news programs and hear her filling the airways as a radio guest.
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