Why is the work-life balance problem seen mainly as female related?
No level of feminism and equality shows satisfactory results at this point simply because work-life balance is mostly not defined by those women but by contradictory society standards. We are still living in a society where personal choice is seen as a a threat to their success.
They are three enemies to finding balance between career and personal life. To find happiness and success, it is your responsibility to face them and to explore them with your heart. Whether you decide to combine career and family or you choose to not have children, this is your call. No one else but you can decide what balance means.
1. The enemy at home:
For some women, family is very important and they might feel like they are betraying their expectations. The role of a stay-at-home mother is accepted as a rule. However, a successful executive can't see the full value of leaving the daily activities that bring her joy.
What you can do — Talk with your spouse about your plans of managing a family before getting pregnant and even before your engagement. If you are not on the same page, chances are you never will be. Let's say your partner believes your place is at home, while you are planning to go back to the office as soon as possible. Talk about it! If you choose to do both, discuss what it looks like for you based on your values and your desires. Everyone around you will have an opinion on the topic. Just remember that the people you love (friends, partner, family, ect.) will not be living your life, you will.
2. The enemy at work:
You might face problems at work, sometimes stretching yourself to acccomplish as much as work as at home. Often, this stretch is not required from you. You assume that it's what it takes to be successful in your organization because in your previous company, it was that way. You bring with you this limiting belief that you have to work long hours to be recognized and valued.
What you can do — Ask yourself if you actually have to work more or harder before jumping to conclusions. Ask for more responsibilities if you want to grow but don't overfill your agenda or overload your desk. Know your limits and show them to your leaders and co-workers. If they see that you are confident and nothing is changing, they will trust you more. As I said earlier, this is your life and your career is only a part of it. This is your choice to set what you want.
3. The enemy within you:
You think that society is your biggest enemy but it might actually you. You can't win this fight without creating awareness. My advice is to question your thoughts and your beliefs system. Why do you really care what people say about you? Are they an important part of your life? If you decide to pause your career and be a housewife and mother, would they say you threw away so many great chances? If you go back to work soon after, would they say you are a bad mother? If you say you don't want to have kids, would they try to prove you are just a lonely, uncaring woman?
What you can do — Believe in yourself and trust the decision you made based on your core values. A reality check of your values and beliefs will help you understand why what other people think about you affects you so much. Overcome the challenge. Awareness about your self imposed limitations is your way to design your life on your own terms. This last enemy is the biggest of those three. If you are not willing to make a choice, or if you are not 100 percent confident about it, you might never feel like you have it all.
Remember: Happiness is a state of mind that depends on you. A study conducted last year by networking giant LinkedIn and Cross-Tab, shows that 63 percent of women find success in the possibility to achieve and maintain a good work-life balance. You know you have found balance not when you have reach a 50/50 but when you feel at ease in your life. When things go so smoothly, you can smile from dawn to dusk.
This article was originally published at Equanimity Executive - Executive Coaching and Training. Reprinted with permission from the author.