Is the work life balance possible?

Guilt and frustration are emotions that the majority of us feel throughout our lives but for us ladies out there, it seems to be that we have more than our fair share on our shoulders.  Is it any wonder when we read statistics like this: –

In 2012, the World Bank published a report on women, business and the law which said, UN Women (the United Nations office focused on women’s issues) informs us that “women perform 66 percent of the world’s work, produce 50% of the food, but earn 10% of the income and own 1% of the property.” [Quote from www.politifact.com]

We appear to be very busy and yet it still sounds like the Middle Ages doesn’t it?  This is not a feminist rant by any stretch of the imagination but it is a true reflection of the society we live in, even though we have reached the 21st century.  So many of us are trading time for money doing work that doesn’t give us the lifestyle and recognition that we deserve in return.  More guilt and frustration …

Added to that, the majority of us ladies still look after a home, care for the children and take on the responsibility of extended family.  If that wasn’t enough, there is now more awareness of women having to shoulder the responsibility of ageing parents as people are now living far longer.  By the year 2034, it’s estimated that nearly a quarter of the UK population will be aged over 65 and experts have already coined the phrase ‘Elderly Parent Stress Responsibility Syndrome’.  That’s quite a lot for us to deal with isn’t it?  When the majority of ‘informal care’ is being performed by women, it’s no wonder we’re being pulled in so many different directions.

Do you want a work life balance?

Do you feel torn by your work and family commitments?  Do you want more time and freedom to commit to the things that matter to you?  I know I’ve felt like that and it’s exactly what drove me to make a change in my own mindset.  I realized I had to take control and stop allowing guilt and frustration from eating me up day after day.  That’s because we end up venting our frustrations on those we love and so the guilt cycle begins all over again.  

I’m not ‘Dolly the Sheep’ and currently you can’t clone yourself although the speed at which technology is developing who knows how soon that’s going be possible!.  But, all jokes aside, we all know we can’t be in two or more places at once.  If our child or elderly parent is ill then most of us have to make the much dreaded telephone call into work to say that they can’t make it in.  You might get away with ‘pulling a sickie’ but if not, you lose a day’s pay.  In other words, if you don’t work, you don’t earn and for most of us it’s as simple as that.  Whichever way we look at it, we’re back to feeling guilt because of what we’ve told the employer or because we resent our child/parent for the loss of a day’s pay.

Get the work life balance for yourself

An employer has to consider an employee’s request for flexible working hours whether they have children or not.  Unfortunately, many people don’t make the request because they fear that it will be seen as a lack of commitment to their employer.  But have you ever asked yourself about the commitment that you owe to yourself?  If you don’t take care of yourself then how can you be expected to care for others?  It’s a question I’ve asked myself a thousand times and I’ve realised that happiness and contentment isn’t about having money (although it helps of course); it’s about being free to make the choices that make a difference to me.  I know that my answer is being able to work on my own terms and fitting my lifestyle around work that I enjoy.  I expect the same will be true of you too and it’s the message I want to spread: you can achieve a work life balance.  It is out there for the taking.

When I’m looking back on my life as an old lady and sat in my rocking chair reflecting on memories of times gone by, I want to be able to look back on my life with happiness and not guilt or regret.  I call this ‘The Rocking Chair Test’ and I don’t think anyone will ever say that they wished they’d spent more time in the office, or it was worth the high blood pressure to get the promotion or commuting for an extra two hours for a small pay rise.  Time is precious and it will surely slip away whether or not we choose to take action in our lives.  We only get one life and it’s up to us to live it as well as we can.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by guilt and frustration right now, you can take some immediate action to take control again.  Close your eyes and take yourself to a place where you you have felt safe and happy.  For example, the holiday cottage by the sea when you were a child or your grandparent’s house where you spent the school holidays – you get the picture.  Focus on how you felt, what you could smell and what you saw.  I sometimes imagine I’m listening to rain or stroking my favorite dog’s fur and just these simple thoughts help me to switch off any feelings that are making me feel bad.  Trust me, it really works if you focus hard enough.

If you have any questions or comments, I’d be very happy to hear from you.

I wish you every success for your digital future!

Rachel A Hill LLB [Hons]

Digital Entrepreneur, Lawyer, Private Tutor and Author

 

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