I believe that most of us have been (and most of us still are) there, continuously trying to balance our work and family life. The challenge is that no-matter what we do, it seems to be a losing battle. Companies like to declare that they support a balanced life, but somehow it seems that every single day we have more meetings, more reports, and more trips to complete during the week; before we can get home to enjoy the weekend. The reality is that in many cases we are simply running the famous rat-race; but nobody (including ourselves) seems to like it, or to be able to understand why we do it.
Then why do we do it?
The first answer that many people offer (even if they phrase in with more politically correct terms) is “for the money of course”, but the reality may be different. We all have heard the joke that nobody puts on their tombstone “I should have spent more time at the office” and that’s just a reflection of the challenge we face. Even the more workaholics of us recognizes that having to choose between work and family life is one of the biggest causes of stress and relationship problems that there are. But if that is the case, why do we continue to do it?
And what are the consequences?
Today, divorce rates are growing on an almost yearly basis, and relationship related stress are four (4) out of the top five (5) most stressful events in anyone’s life1. Spending sometimes 80 hours or more a week (if you are traveling 4 days every week you already spend more than that at work) leaves very little time to develop a relationship, or to keep it alive. The reality is that while companies may say that they support a balanced work-life style, you are the only person responsible for figuring out how does that applies to your own family.
Work-Life Balance: What can you do do about it?
Before we can answer any problem, the first step is to simply understand what is causing it, and the work/life balance issue is no different from any other challenge that we face. The reality is that while it is true that some people simply do not make enough (those at or below minimum wage); most people think that is for the money because it is the most visible result of their effort (and one that can be easily quantified and put on a pedestal). What happens in many cases is that we do it because we believe that we have to; without really understanding if this is what all of the people in the relationship want.
The biggest challenge is that most of us may not even understand the real cause of the problem; and without it we are not able to fix it (or may make it actually worst). While it is easier to figure out that more work generally equals more money, the challenge is to understand why do you do it; and every relationship may have a different reason for it. For some it’s about security and having a steady income for their families, for others is about the money and what you can do with it, for others is about the recognition that having more money or a title commands, while for others it may be simply because they truly enjoy the extended workweek.
In order to fix it, you need not only to figure out why you do it, but also what do your family thinks about it and what are their preferences about it. Do you really know what do your family (or your significan other) thinks about your almost “obsessive” working schedule?. Do you know if they want more money, or if they want more time with you, if they want the added security?, (or simply if they really want you out of the house – and .. you may want to figure that one early also 😃 ).