Work/life balance is a huge topic.
And some people, rightfully so, are tired of hearing about it. You might be one of them.
Let me go all historical on you for a minute.
When the 40-hour work week was implemented by Henry Ford nearly a century ago, it was revolutionary. In fact, it was probably one of the first work/life balance initiatives of its time. But it also came with one big assumption: that employees had partners who would stay home to do the unpaid work of caring for the home and family.
Today, both the 40 hour work week and the assumption that every household exists on a single income is a joke. In fact, women make now make up around 47% of the workforce.
So let’s zero in on the balance piece of this – can you really get everything at work done between 9 and 5, or do you often turn on your computer or respond to emails on your phone after your kids go to sleep?
Do you feel pressure to respond to emails you get over the weekend?
And here’s the real question: how are the leaders of your company (and you might be one of them) perpetuating this burn-out cycle by their example?
Some of my clients work at global companies that make the 100 Best Places to Work each year, largely because of their policies on parental leave and flexible/reduced schedule work arrangements.
But underneath it all, these flex schedules have the potential to feel more like a poorly constructed contract to get 100% of your work done in 80% of the time, and with lower pay, vs. maintaining a balanced workload for your reduced week.
And extended parental leave isn’t that helpful at all if your boss still contacts you multiple times per week for various requests that “only you have the knowledge to get done.”
So what responsibility do YOU have when it comes to enforcing balance where you work? How can you help change an outdated culture when it exists?
Because it’s possible. I promise you it is.
A couple of years ago, I was presented with an opportunity to be interviewed along with some of my best friends – Reese Witherspoon, Sara Blakely and Molly Sims, to name a few. Ok, well maybe we weren’t exactly best friends YET, but it could happen.
Author Susie Schnall interviewed me for her series titled “The Balance Project: Interviews with Inspiring Women Talking Work/Life Balance.” (You may have seen the series featured in Working Mother magazine.) This series of of relevant and refreshingly candid interviews featured inspiring and accomplished women talking about what we all seek to achieve: balance.
The link to my interview is below, as well as the links to those given by some other more, ahem, famous women whom you will likely recognize. There is so much wisdom to be gleaned from each and every one of these interviews.
That’s the whole idea behind the project, really. Susie knows we can learn so much from other women as we try to navigate our personal and professional pursuits with grace.
The Balance Project is a fabulous reminder that we are all students and we are all teachers.
As you read these interviews I’d ask you to do two things:
- Please keep looking for women you can build into who are learning lessons you’ve already learned.
- Please keep looking for women from whom you can learn…those walking the same path who are just a bit ahead of you.
Read the full interview here.
Other Balance Project interviews:
- Reese Witherspoon, Actor/Producer
- Sara Blakely, Founder of Spanx
- Tracy Pollan, Actor/Writer
- Molly Sims, Actress, Author and Humanitarian
- Sarah Michelle Gellar, Actor, Producer & Co-Founder of Foodstirs
By the way, Susie’s novel she wrote based on these interviews is pretty amazing. Check it out here. That’s right, it’s a NOVEL, not a nonfiction how-to book. This review sums it up perfectly:
“A fast-paced tale of a twentysomething desperately trying to balance her own life while, ironically, working for a woman known as America’s Darling of Balance. If you liked The Devil Wears Prada, you’ll enjoy this charming romp, which delivers with heart, depth, and a perfectly satisfying conclusion.”
– Kristin Harmel, bestselling author of The Sweetness of Forgetting and The Life Intended
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This is based on a blog post originally published December 17, 2015