Work-life balance stripped bare

What does work-life balance mean to you?

Is it balancing your time and energies between work and home fronts? Is it carving up your week to allocate time to work, be with kids, do the chores, and relax, exercise or have fun? Any way you look at it, for us mums, this requires a boat-load of scheduling, organising and firefighting, and requires oodles of energy and stamina.

But let us put it to you that work-life balance is not so much the ability to juggle our time, but rather, intentionally pursuing our goals in accordance with our values. In other words, organising our lives to make sure we’re giving our energies to the things that are most important to us. Because, when we live our lives in balance with what’s most important, our life makes sense to us, feels “right”. We feel satisfied, energised and motivated. And when we don’t, we feel sluggish, irritable or unhappy.

So, what might this look like in real life? Here are some examples of how values (highlighted below in bold font) can drive work-life decisions in a mindful way:

  • Choosing to work full time because right now her future financial security is her primary focus
  • Waiting for the right job - with an employer supporting flexible hours - because it’s vital for her to be able to escape the office or work from home when her kids fall sick
  • Choosing a job with a big corporate because she’s happiest when connecting with people face-to-face and gets a buzz out of working in a team environment
  • Leaving the big corporate as she just doesn’t flourish in their competitive environment and longs for the autonomy her own business would provide
  • Both partners choosing to work part time because they value the chance to co-parent their kids equally
work life balance

That’s why there’s no “formula” for healthy work-life balance; because everyone has different values, goals, strengths and backstories. There’s no right or wrong, just what feels authentic and serves you best at this juncture in your life.

In our coaching practice, we love to help clients work out exactly what is important to them so they can make plans and make decisions confidently, with a sense of direction and control. Often this is the part people don’t take the time to do. Most people spend more time planning their annual holiday than planning their life! No wonder so many people feel stuck with what they’re doing, hating their job or not knowing what their next steps might be.

Balance isn’t something you find, it’s something you create - by crafting your life with purpose.

With love, from Flourishing Mothers

To work or not to work?............What are you really looking for?

Is it ever just a simple question for Mums?

Across the community, very few decisions are ever made in a complete vacuum, but the decisions that Mums make about how to structure their lives may be the most complex of all!  We tend to ponder at length how to meet the practical, financial, emotional and social needs of our families and ourselves and what role work will play. 

The risk is that your wellbeing suffers in trying to find the perfect solution.

Imagine this.....

You receive a phone call from an old workmate telling you about a great new position that’s been created at her company.  She’s even already told the Directors about you and they’re really interested to meet!

You’re probably pretty flattered and interested, but then the mental cogs start turning.......

  • Ok, I’ll have to work out the netball car pool again........
  • I wonder if leaving early on a Thursday would work......
  • I wasn’t really planning on changing anything till next year.....
  • But it sounds like a fantastic opportunity.........

Whether you’re currently working or not, the decision making process is inevitably going to have a lot of variables in addition to standard job search thoughts about the company, the location, the duties and the salary.

What are you really looking for?

Decisions are easier to make if you have a good grasp on what’s most important to you.  One area to consider when thinking about work, is the nature of your personal work orientation.  Research in this area of positive psychology has identified the three distinct work orientations of Job, Career or Calling. 

Are you looking for a Job? – You want to work mostly to fulfil practical needs.  These needs might be financial but could also be social.  You’re not overly passionate about work activities, and for the most part, your life outside of work is more important to you than your work.

Are you craving a Career? – You enjoy your work but are definitely thinking about the next step up the ladder or opportunity to take on more responsibilities. 

Are you hearing a Calling? – Your work gives you a lot of meaning and fits well with your values.  You feel a strong sense of pride in what you do and believe it makes the world a better place.  You want to spend as much time as possible on your work.

What description fits you best? 

The right thing at the right time!

Now here’s the thing – as a mum there’s no right or wrong work orientation!   But being able to identify what you want at a specific stage in your life can definitely help you make good decisions about opportunities that come up.  Feeling a sense of meaning boosts wellbeing but that meaning can come from various aspects of our lives at different times.

What do you think?  What are you looking for in work right now? Please leave a comment!

Best wishes,

Flourishing Mothers

Inspired and adapted from the work of Amy Wrzesniewski