May 21, 2018

How abandoning the idea of ‘work-life balance’ will lead to long-term success

With Mother’s Day just behind us, I’d like to take the opportunity to celebrate all the mothers out there. In my opinion, all mothers are working mothers. Whether you work in the home, part time or full time, it’s important to recognize just how hard all mothers work. Each type of working mother faces her own set of challenges, but for the purposes of this blog post, I will be discussing mothers who are working on their career in addition to raising children.

As a working mother myself, I learned a lot over many years of juggling my career and being a mother. One point, sadly, I see is that the issue of “work-life balance” continues to persist. Part of the problem is that we want this pure and true balance, which I know doesn’t exist. We set ourselves up for failure establishing our goal to achieve that “magic” balance. Instead, I suggest the following two key tenets to set yourself up for success both in your career and at home:

Integration. Identify your priorities and integrate each of these into your life. You are a mother, but you also have responsibilities to your career and the company for which you work. To identify your priorities, have the honest conversations with the important people in your life, including your partner, children, boss and coworkers or team members. You should not see yourself as being all alone in this process. By having these discussions, you can better identify your priorities and integrate them into your life. Once they’ve been identified, don’t lose sight of them; you’ll find integration is very doable.

Inclusion. Oftentimes, we want to define and classify people, but this can ultimately end up being very divisive. We can work on solving the challenges facing working mothers by being inclusive -- not just of working mothers, but working fathers and anyone who is trying to integrate their personal priorities into their career and vice versa. This will move us away from the subtle biases of “that’s a working mother’s problem.” By recognizing that every person is different and creating inclusive workplaces (that goes for employers and employees), I believe we can continue to solve the challenges facing everyone trying to “balance” work and our lives.

We all have an obligation to be change agents for enhancing the workplace by working on eliminating subtle biases. We can all benefit from owning our unique challenges and embracing them as opportunities, integrating our priorities, and striving for workplace inclusion. To quote the always-applicable adage, “It’s supposed to be hard. If it were easy, everyone could do it.” Not to mention, I’d have nothing to blog about!


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