It took time to adjust to work life after returning from my first maternity leave. My supportive manager said, “You just need to figure out how to balance everything and you’ll be fine.” Right. Balance. Check. So what did I do? I dove into my career, exceeded expectations and got pregnant with my second child.
Apparently I didn’t understand the meaning of the word “balance”.
How can one equally choose between their career and their home life? I spent 40 hours a week away from my child and about 30 hours with my child. But the caveat was those 30 hours weren’t one-on-one time with my child. No, that time was spent cleaning, cooking, relaxing, traveling, you know, living life. How is that balance?
After my 2nd maternity leave my manager kept singing the same tune, “You just need to find a new way to balance things, and you’ll do fine.” I know he was trying to help, but that word balance was REALLY starting to get on my nerves.
How was anyone supposed to find balance?
Then I read a Wall Street Journal article about Jack Welch, former CEO of GE, titled “Welch: No Such Thing as Work-Life Balance.”. The title made me smile. Finally someone was speaking my language. Welch said, "There are work-life choices, and you make them, and they have consequences." I could live with this! This was something I could go on.
So how do you make the right choices when so much in your life demands your time and energy?
I found the answer was returning to my roots. I rediscovered what my values are. Values are ideals that are personally important and meaningful for you and draw you forward. My values are creativity, bliss, competency, and mindfulness.
Next step was rediscovering what my priorities were. A priority is something that takes precedence over something else or someone who is given special attention. Motherhood turns priorities upside down! You are now responsible for another human beings life. It’s hard not to make your child your #1 priority. Your 2nd priority may be your career, then significant other and last but not least your home.
I began focusing on making brave work/life choices. What I mean by this is making the right choices based on my vales and priorities. I stopped making choices based on what others believed was best for me (or for themselves). Sometimes it’s easier to just go with the flow, not ruffle feathers and cause confrontation, but who is benefiting from that kind of choice? Certainly not you.