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The Secret to Work-Life Balance

The Secret to Work-Life Balance

Recently, I was a mentor at a POWER speed-mentoring event, in which emerging leaders were paired with seasoned leaders for discussions of topics ranging from leadership to networking to work-life balance. I was chosen along with my co-mentor Kym Johnson to lead a discussion on work-life balance.

Here's the secret to work-life balance.

The secret to work-life balance is self-awareness. Oftentimes, we find ourselves running on autopilot. We jump from meeting to meeting, e-mail to e-mail, event to event, family obligation to doctor's appointment to you-name-it. We are busy bees running around doing who-knows-what and burning ourselves out.

  • Are we even aware that we might be out-of-balance with ourselves?
  • Are we aware that we are not present in the moment because our minds are running a mile a minute?
  • Are we tuned into our own life enough to know when we might need to take a break?
  • And, if we are aware, do we actually take care of ourselves?

Another secret about work-life balance is that it can be found in any moment. Work-life balance doesn't have to be this huge thing where you work “X” amount of time and do personal/family stuff “X” amount of time. Face it: Things come up in life that are completely out of our control and take us in totally different directions, causing us to lose our balance (if we ever had it to begin with). We will constantly find ourselves out of balance.

The key is being aware that we are out of balance and taking steps to take care of ourselves when we are. Work-life balance means being self-aware enough to know when you need to stop, take a break, and take care of yourself. That can happen at any moment, including right now.

[Related: Olympic Gymnast Carly Patterson on Patience, Perseverance, and Overcoming Disappointment]

A few examples of what this can look like.

If you get an email from your boss and it causes you to get upset or frustrated, instead of immediately reacting or responding, consider regaining your balance. Take a few deep breaths or go for a walk. Wait a while before responding. Balance your emotions with self-care. This will help to bring you back to your "center," a neutral or less-emotional state.

As I was writing this blog post, I found myself getting really tired. I could have taken a nap in that moment. I didn't end up taking a nap, but instead of just plowing through, I stood up, went outside, took a walk, grabbed a snack, and then returned to my writing. I felt a lot better.

Adam Grant says that some days you will have to work fifteen hours a day, and the next you will spend the whole day with your family. Some weeks you will have to work like crazy and other weeks might be super light. That’s okay.

[Related: Three Proven Ways to Create Your Own Serendipity]

Here's the point.

Work-life balance is different for everyone, and it will thus look different for everyone. The main thing is being self-aware enough to know what you need and how to take care of yourself. I would encourage you to be more present in your everyday life, as that can help you to become more self-aware. This will also help you make better choices as to what is best for you in the moment.

What does work-life balance look like for you? What are your thoughts on this? Let’s keep this roundtable going.

[Related: The Path to Mindfulness Part 3: Thought and Emotion Awareness]


Chantelle Fitzgerald has worked in education, healthcare, nonprofits, international education, and higher education. She has a passion for helping people in the workplace by providing them tools to help deal with "sticky" and "tricky" situations. She is thrilled to be on this journey of re-tooling herself in order to help others to be what they've always wanted to become.

Have more questions? Follow up with the expert herself.