Work-life Balance is What You Allow

At the end of the interview, candidates almost always say, “tell me about the work-life balance”.

To which I would reply… “tell me what’s important to you”.

Before we get into that, what exactly is work-life balance?

Google will tell you; “Work-life balance is the state where a person chooses to equally prioritize the demands of work and career and the demands of their personal life.”

Said another way; “The amount of time you spend doing your job compared with the amount of time you spend with your family and doing things you enjoy.”

Why has work-life balance become an important topic during interviews?

A few reasons:

  1. Doing more with Less.
    • Many companies, especially at the corporate level, do not replace those who move on thus leaving the extra responsibility on the rest of the team. The increased responsibilities leave you stressed and feeling like the jack of all trades, master of none.
  2. Working longer hours.
    • Many members of leadership expect those on their team to mirror their dedication to the job. They forget that some people value their time at home and with friends just as much or more than their career.
    • The expectation to stay later weighs on you out of fear of how it will look and then you pile on the stress of arriving home late and worried about all the work you left behind. It’s a never ending cycle.
  3. Having children.
    • The miraculous gift of children is one that cannot be ignored. You want to be both an example of goals and commitment but you also want to be a present parent.

When interviewing for a job, always remember- you are interviewing them just as much as they are interviewing you.

When I would speak with candidates, it was interesting because never would a man ask me about work-life balance, but for women, this was often the first question they had.

But again, they would simply say, “tell me about the work-life balance”.

To which I would reply… “tell me what’s important to you”.

Why? Because work life balance is nothing but a reflection of what truly matters to you.

Think about it, if being able to have flexibility to attend every soccer game means most, thats the answer you’ll want to hear.

Perhaps it’s the ability to promptly leave at a given time to catch the train or beat traffic. You’ll want to know how the company can accommodate.

By asking a vague question, you may not receive the answer you need to determine whether or not this is the right spot for you.

Alternate work-life balance question:

  • Can you give me examples of how this company creates an environment that supports work-life balance?

The way this question is structured is a bit more specific, asking for examples that may help you continue gathering information.

The last thing you want is to leave without a clear answer on what’s important to you.

baby laying on bed in a neutral onsie, teddy bear and knit blanket.

I have always held the belief that my balance is in my commitment.

If I can go to work and be with my kids, all while doing my best within the boundaries I set, then I mastered work life balance.

There have been jobs were I negotiated leaving at 4 when I had to work till 6, just so I could pick my kids up.

Were co-workers upset that they didn’t get the same accommodation?

Maybe, but it’s not my fault they didn’t work that into their negotiation. This is simply what worked best for me.

The chaos in the work life balance is only the result of the boundaries you set and did not follow through on.

Give yourself permission to be flexible.

Don’t have a toddler size meltdown (been there myself and it’s highly overrated) over getting dinner on the table 30 minutes later than what you anticipated.

It’s ok.

They’ll still eat and most likely complain it’s not exactly what they wanted despite how much effort you put into it.

They can be so charming right?

You will find the time and if that extra laundry pile needs to wait-it’s ok because you have learned to be flexible with your boundaries.

The “having it all”… “the balance”… everyone so highly covets, is all an Illusion inside your mind.

Work-life balance is often what you allow.

Don’t allow work life balance to make you feel guilty. Balance is part of life. Without it, we would be burnt out.

Thats a topic for another day.

To be honest, it’s only attainable to the boundaries you set for yourself.

If you allow people to call you after hours, they will.

If you often stay late, people may assume you can always stay late.

My balance may be different than your and THATS OK. What is important to me may not look the same for you.

But remember, you won’t likely get the accommodation you need unless you ask for it.

Before asking, think about what you may need and what you would offer them in return.

Meaning, if you want to leave early to attend a soccer game, perhaps offer coming in earlier as a trade off.

“No one is going to be a bigger advocate for you, than you.” -Perfected Chaos

Ps. What are some examples of realistic boundaries you have put into place, share in the comments below!

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Multi-passionate creative, creator of 2, cocktails-well any time and fashion I cant afford. 

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