Balancing obligations at work and home does not happen by accident. It happens as the result of a decision. If you want to find a way to balance it all and be happy, you must make a decision to do it and then work to make it happen.
People like to talk about balancing their responsibilities at work and home. It is always a popular source of conversation and debate. When those conversations happen, it is important to remember that not everyone actually wants to balance their obligations at work and home. I have spoken with many women who have no interest in balancing work and home.
At a conference a few years ago, one of the speakers was a single mother with several children. She had a very nice job in corporate America that called for her to travel around the country on a regular basis. She was away from home three out of four weeks each month. She was away from her children a great deal of time. Her mother cared for her children while she was away. She had no interest in balancing her obligations at work and home. She cared more about her career than balancing her obligations to children and was not ashamed of that fact.
Similarly, on an almost daily basis, I speak with women who work at wonderful jobs and are raising children. These women prioritize their children and families over their jobs. Some are married and some are single. What they have in common is that they all place more value on their obligations to their children and home than their obligations at work.
These are women who don’t try for projects that will keep them working after normal work hours. They do not travel out of town for work. They have made it clear to their employers that they will come to work, do a great job and then go home, but they will not go above and beyond their job descriptions. Their obligations at home are more important to them than their obligations at work and they are not ashamed of that.
There are other women who work and have families. These women want to succeed and do abundantly well at work. They under promise and over deliver at work. At their homes, they want happy, successful marriages and to raise healthy, well-adjusted children. These women want to balance it all. They want it all and they want to make it work. More importantly, they have made a decision that they will find a way to balance their obligations at home or work.
Of course, these three types of people are extremes along the spectrum of the balancing line. There are numerous points along the way from one end to the other. There is no singular best position to have along the way. Indeed, the best position for a woman to have is the one that works best for her in her life. Not everyone is seeking balance. Those who are seeking balance can find it.
In order to balance your obligations at work and home, you must start by deciding that you actually want to balance your obligations. Once you make the decision, then you can work towards achieving a balance that will work for you, your family and your career. The decision to balance is a hard one to make. At some points, if a career is going to skyrocket, it may be necessary to place the majority of one’s efforts into one’s career. At other points, if a marriage and family are going to succeed and prosper, it may be necessary to place the majority of one’s efforts into family related activities. But, if you want to do more than talk about balancing it all, if you actually want to balance home and work – make a decision.
There are many paths to balancing home and work once you make a decision to do it. Here is one:
Define what balance looks like for you
It is important to remember that balance is different for each person. For some, balance means all the time during the week is work time and all time on the weekends is for family. For others, balance means day time hours for work and evening hours for family. For others, balance may mean months away from home for work and then weeks spent at home. There is no one way to balance obligations at home and work. You must decide what balance looks like for you.
Make a plan to carry out the balancing act
Once you know what balancing home and work looks like for you, make a plan. Everyone has heard the old saying, “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” That saying has been around, seemingly forever. One reason why it has such staying power is because it is true. You cannot guarantee you will succeed at a thing by winging it. You stand a much better chance of succeeding when you make a plan.
When you create your plan to balance home and work, have as much information in front of you as possible. This means, get out your calendar, your spouse’s calendar, your children’s school calendars, your work calendar. You must be aware of all the time requests and commitments in your life if you are to succeed at making a balancing plan work.
Use your calendar wisely. Block of time for work, home and personal time. It is hard work to sit down with your calendar, whether paper or electronic and figure out how to fit it and where to fit in all your obligations. Take into account prep time, travel time and recovery time. Spend all the time needed to create your plan. It is well worth the time to spend days making a plan that works.
Revise your plan needed
No matter how much time you spend on your plan. There may come a time when the plan needs to be revised. There are a myriad of reasons why the plan may need to be revised. For example, school hours change, office hours and duties may change and priorities may change. From time to time, your priorities change. You may start your plan with the need to put 60% of your effort into work. Over the course of time, you may need to change and put 70% of your effort into your home. The time you need to spend in each are to achieve the balance you desire may change often or may never change. It is important for you to realize at the start that no matter how good the plan is when you create it, it may need to be changed from time to time.
Cut yourself a break if things get out of balance from time to time
One of the most important things you can do when creating a plan to balance work and home is to cut yourself a break if things get out of balance from time to time. This is because no matter how wonderful your plan, no matter how many variables you took into account, things will go wrong from time to time. There are some factors that are beyond your control. For example, children get sick, co-workers quit or a car breaks down. All of these things will cause your plan to go out of wack and your balance to get ll messed up.
When things go wrong and you fail at the balancing act, suck it up and move on. Do not beat yourself up over it. Instead, look at the situation. Determine if there is anything to learn from the experience. If there is, learn the lesson and move forward. Always remember that how many times you fall down does not determine if you are a failure or a success. Your success is determined by how many times you get up after you have fallen.
When thinking about balancing obligations at work and home, it is important to realize that it all begins with your decision to balance it all. So, the question for you this fantastic day is, what decisions about home and work balance are you ready to make?
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