Family Matters: Finding Balance in an Ambitious World

Work Life Balance

Last week I read a post by Dave Kerpen, the CEO of Likeable Local, titled Career Highlights Won’t Be On Your Tombstone.  It brings up a topic that has been on my mind for the past few years – how does family fit into my career?  Since high school, I’ve been very focused on what sort of career I wanted to make for myself.  I’ve always known that I want children, but until the past few years, I never thought in detail about how a family will fit into my ambitions as a professional.

Kerpen tells a story of going on a business trip that extended into the weekend, barely missing his connecting flight home, and feeling like the worst dad in the world when he wasn’t able to be with his family until Sunday evening, missing the entire weekend with them.  Weekends are normally sacred for him but he reluctantly accepted this trip because it was a great opportunity with an important business contact.  After he missed his connecting flight, he had many hours to reflect on what his priorities were in life.

“Somehow, it’s more difficult at times to say “no” to our clients or boss than it is to say “no” to our children … You’ll never regret time with your kids. You’ll never say on your deathbed ‘I wish I had worked more.’”

I do find it interesting that at times we will bend over backwards for people we barely know (though I know that they are usually the ones paying us), but feel like we can easily reschedule time with the people who matter most to us.  I think we all need to remember to take a step back from time to time and gain a bit of perspective.

Though we don’t have children yet, Mark and I have  been talking about how we will want to handle our careers when we feel ready to start our family.  My view on my career has certainly shifted from what I had wanted when I was younger. I used to think I wanted to be one of the top dogs in some sort of communications role in a huge agency or Fortune 500 company. But now there are so many jobs that weren’t even in existence before just a few years ago, that I don’t feel the need to fit in the traditional career track anymore. Mark and I already feel that nothing is more important to us than our little two-person family, I can only imagine how we will feel when we start having kids and what decisions we will make to ensure a happy family life.

Thankfully with today’s digital world, there are so many more options for flexible work arrangements.  I currently work at a digital marketing agency where I *think* it wouldn’t be completely out of the question to work from home some of the time or work part-time, (though I’m not aware of anyone testing the waters with a flexible work schedule yet). I really like working there – my co-workers and my clients are great. I’m very grateful and encouraged that almost all of my managers, including the CEO & founder, are all very family oriented.  I am a little concerned that if I’m the first one to request such an arrangement though, it might be seen as too hard to pull off.

But according to the book, Womenomics: Write Your Own Rules of Success by Claire Shipman and Katty Kay, most people are opting for more flexibility rather than more money. The book provides an overall road map for approaching your boss and getting exactly what you want from your career. I know I’ll have to do my research and try to think of a solution for every possibility that may come up, but after switching jobs a few times in my career already, I’m also not terrified of walking away, if it comes to that.

I find myself thinking of other opportunities (or what my friend calls a side hustle), just to have in my back pocket, in case things don’t work out. When I meet someone with an interesting job that seems adaptable, I find myself immediately assessing if it would be A) something I would be good at, B) something that I would enjoy doing, and C) something that would give me flexibility to raise a growing family.

I guess I will just have to wait and see how everything plays out.  For the time being, Mark and I are very happy with our careers and our little two-person family.  We already take great strides to keep our family time sacred,  and will continue to try to keep things in perspective.

What are your thoughts on work/life balance?  I’d love to hear any tips or ideas on how you try keep things in perspective.


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