week I found a great article on work/life balance that actually aligns very
well with my philosophy in this area (The
10 secrets of one Unflappable mother).
Most people will tell you that to have balance, you must set clear
limits between your work and your personal life, yet I believe in quite the
opposite. If you love your work, it
becomes part of your life and it all blends in together. Let me give you a few examples.
has been one of those weeks where everything piled up and every day there was a
different deliverable. I had gotten great news about a new project approval
that I wanted to work on, the Phillies started the playoffs with a no-hitter
(hey! Baseball is a critical part of my work-life balance), and I’ve been
trying to train for a half-marathon coming up in about 7 weeks (not to mention
the regular stuff: 3 kids, a house, time reporting, etc).
to say, my days start very early by trying to fit in a run with my running
buddy, co-worker, and role model with whom I can discuss the latest homework
battle at home or the biomarker strategy for my compound (blending in work and
life). During the day, I’m usually quite
busy at work with meetings followed by the busy “daycare
this point I’m exhausted, but, alas, I have been staying up late working on the
stuff that I can’t get done in the office.
Many would assume this is a lack of balance, but I actually like it a
lot. There is something very comforting
about sitting in my kitchen (as I’m doing right now), enjoying some peace and
quiet, and really focusing on a particular presentation I have to put
together. The trade-off is that I’m
offered a significant amount of flexibility during the day.
I took full advantage of that flexibility when in the middle of the afternoon
my husband called to tell me that my youngest child had broken a bone and they
were headed to the emergency room.
Needless to say I left early, but for once I didn’t have any feelings of
guilt nor will I have any guilt when I leave early tomorrow, a Friday, to go to
the baseball game (as I said before, critical part of my work/life
balance). I also take advantage of such
arrangements to take field trips with my kids’ schools, attend parent-teacher
meetings or simply enjoy a long lunch with colleagues.
there is so much more to work/life balance than simply the flexibility to
arrange your schedule. In my mind,
balance is about finding efficiencies and synergies. Running, in this case, is a great
example. I am a runner and for a long
time had been a lone runner until I found my running buddy. We had been colleagues for a while and knew
we had a lot in common. Then we started
bumping into each other at the gym at work.
Soon, we started to use adjacent exercise equipment to gossip about the
events in our department. After a few
months of that, we started running together.
Now, we are best friends and, as I write this blog, we are exchanging
e-mails regarding my son’s broken arm and the presentation I’m putting
running, I have also built some great work relationships that give me insight
into other departments and provide me access to senior management. Running is also a great team-building
activity and a lot cheaper than many of those (team-building) consultants, yet
it is an integral part of my personal life balance.
the other hand, my work skills have also provided valuable input into my
personal life. As a working parent, I
rely on childcare as a critical component of my balance and have developed a
strong interest in early childhood education, although I have no
experience. Yet, that has not stopped me
from joining the board of directors of the organization that runs my children’s
daycare and a number of other facilities and programs.
first, I thought I was highly unqualified to take this responsibility (what do
scientists know about non-profit early education organizations?), but with time
I’ve learned that some of the lessons from working in corporate America are
quite valuable to the non-profit world.
In this case, my professional training allowed me to make a contribution
to a cause that is near and dear to my heart.
Again, there is a blending between my professional and personal sides.
In the end, I believe that if you love what you
do, whether it is being a mom, a scientist, an advocate, a runner, or all of
the above, what you do to accomplish the different tasks associated with those
roles should not feel like work but just a part of your life. The balance will come when you allow the
different aspects of your life to blend and synergize.