Work/Life Balance – Is There Such a Thing?

This month at GWLF, we’ve spent an interesting amount of time discussing Balance. Our webinar for the month was called Balance: One Man’s Perspective, and we were lucky enough to have Matt James, Learning and Development Manager of Corelle Brands, offer his thoughts on the subject. If you are a Corporate Member and were not able to be with us for the live broadcast, do go to the Corporate Member Portal of our website and take a listen.  I can already see some of you rolling your eyes, wondering, “What could a man possibly offer about balance?”

While work-life balance is typically associated with women, I thought it interesting that we expand the conversation, and hear from a man on this topic. I don’t believe that balance is a female issue. I believe it’s a human issue. Please know that I understand that, in most households, women still hold primary responsibility for household chores and kids (chart below). Often, women are considered to have two full time jobs. Their first professional job runs from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. They then begin their “second shift” where kids, home, and family take over. I know a little bit about this, having four children of my own and being a full - time entrepreneur.

However, when we focus only on women, we tend to align the conversation to married women with children.  By doing that, we exclude from the conversation people who are single, male, and female. Do we believe that those folks don’t have similar questions about balance in their lives?

In my family, I have my own internal research study on this subject. I have four children, three boys, one girl. All millennials. I have heard each of them question their work/life balance, yet none are married. One of my sons does have two children, but his questioning is no louder than others. I find this fascinating. I don’t remember being a twenty something and even considering balance. I kept my head down and worked. Whatever it took to get the job done. Today, it’s different, and we must expand the conversation.

Matt talked about his own feelings of owning the primary financial responsibility in his household. While data shows that this too is shifting, I appreciated Matt’s transparency and honesty in addressing the heaviness of that imbalance in his own life.

This month we also focused on corporate systemic imbalance. We discussed the imbalance of inclusion of women and people of color in top levels of leadership in corporations, why it matters, and what each of us must do to change this imbalance. We must, individually and collectively, utilize our voices to call out this imbalance. This imbalance does not shift unless each of us takes a stand to make it different.

Balance. Both systemic and in a life. What does it mean to you? I will tell you this. I think balance, specific to work life, DOES EXIST. It’s a section in Barnes and Noble Bookstore. That’s it. That’s the only place it lives. There will be times when your lean to is more towards professional and less towards personal and there will be times when your lean to is more towards personal and less towards professional.  It will NEVER be in complete balance. At least that’s my experience. So best I can offer is that you forgive yourself for the imbalance in your own life. If you’re doing the best that you can, that’s balanced enough.

Keep lookin’ up!