-Written by SIYP Team

When you take your career seriously, and you have a family, at times it can be really difficult to strike a comfortable balance between these – often competing – interests.

Balancing work and family or balancing work and life can feel darn near possible. Why?

Is balancing work and family hard just because when you’re at work, you’re missing family time or vice versa? Or is this conflict maybe because you feel like you need to be able to do it all perfectly and you believe one is always slightly suffering due to your attention to and on the other? Or is there more to it?

One of the often overlooked reasons balancing work and family can feel so difficult is because we’ve been told it’s difficult—over and over again.

It’s been drilled into our heads – maybe even from the time we are children – that we can’t have it all. That we can’t be successful at everything. We’ve been told all our lives that having it all is virtually impossible.

So we have come to feel that if we are giving time to work, we are taking it away from family. Or that if we are determined about protecting our family time, we aren’t giving our all to work. But what if that isn’t true?

What if we can be successful at all that we do – even at balancing work and family – without letting another area of our life suffer? What else is possible?

Think about it… do your employees or does your employer really need you 24 hours a day? 18? 16? 12? What about your family – do they? And the truth is… if they do, is it possible you’re not helping either by giving it to them? And possibly even harming yourself if you try? Let’s consider those questions for a moment…

When do people learn independence, self-reliance, and discipline? It’s most often when they are left to their own devices to problem solve, find solutions, and direct their own work and free time too.

Not to say that work and family don’t need your guidance, assistance, and attendance some of the time. It just may not even be good for their own development, if they have those things all of the time. It’s quite possible that it’s when you are not there, that your employees or co-workers may experience their greatest growth.

Meaning, you definitely should not feel guilty when you’re not there holding their hand all of the time.

If you could realize there was no reason for you to feel guilt or stress when you are not giving your attention to one or the other, would it change your belief about whether having it all was possible after all? Would it take work life balance from being this ultimate challenge to something that was a more natural state that we all really can obtain if we let ourselves—and each other?

Have you ever noticed in some offices – or among other Moms or Dads – people often “compete” as to who is the biggest martyr in terms of giving up either work or family time?

Meaning, at work, some seem to think it is honorable or admirable to work horribly long hours toward the company cause. Yet, they aren’t really contributing this time or energy freely – their words and actions often give the impression they are “sacrificing” family and/or personal time for the sake of their career.

With that mindset, do you think they are really accomplishing all they can—giving it their true and absolute best? Most likely, they are operating from a place of resentment so that they cannot possibly be doing their best work.

Likewise, among some groups of parents, spouses, and partners, there is a similar paradox at play. There are those who claim to be shortchanging or sacrificing their careers because their “family comes first”.

But is that true? Do you think families like to hear or feel as if they are hindering their loved one’s life in some way? How do you think that impression lingering overhead affects that family time? Is the time pleasurable? Or does it have a cloud hanging over it… with everyone wondering if you are really thinking and feeling as if you should be somewhere else?

Maybe the real answer to genuine work life balance is realizing it isn’t a myth or a sacrificial state where we are slightly shortchanging each (or one or the other) so that we can try to have just a taste of having it all.

Maybe it’s a genuine state of balanced living that is a natural state of give and take that – when our priorities are in balance – organically occurs? Perhaps, what we all really need to do is give each other – and ourselves – a break.

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