Work life balance? How about work life sway?

Work life balance? How about work life sway?

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This is a guest post from RBC Centre for Women in Business
(Member since 2012)



Since the mid 1980s, work life balance has been bandied about in board rooms and happy hours alike. Now, as we prepare to celebrate the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women for International Women’s Day, is the perfect time to revisit this important concept and often benchmark of success.

Work life balance challenges the workaholic, the new graduate, and the entrepreneur to balance their time between work and personal life. While common, its definition and what it means to achieve this balance is elusive and vague.

In 2019, we released a study that found that work life balance is the number one challenge reported by women business owners in Atlantic Canada. This was even before COVID-19 began to emphasize and further exasperate these business challenges and added new ones.

Balance can be described as an even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady. With this definition, it’s easy to see how shifting needs of the business, clients, family, friends, and personal time can be a veritable juggling act.

Around the office, we’re embracing a new perspective - work life sway. Sway sets a different expectation and leaves space for change as priorities shift. We’re embracing it for ourselves and encouraging our members to as well.

To dive more into the topic, we asked Eleanor Beaton what she thought. Eleanor is a local and globally recognized women’s leadership expert, working 1:1 with thousands of women business owners over the years. “I don’t think it exists,” she said. “The term balance suggests that there is a perfect balance between work life and home life.” She adds that work life balance is another thing that women think they need to achieve to be perfect. Another thing that could easily make you feel like you are failing. Another pressure.

Eleanor sees women making very conscious trade-offs when it comes to growth. When evaluating business success, most turn immediately to revenues. Women often take a more holistic view – do I have time to run my business and take time for myself, spend time with my kids, volunteer, take vacation. “It’s not money and growth at all costs,” she says.

But she has a suggestion. “Every woman,” she suggests “should have a reckoning with herself about what her priorities are and then honour those priorities in a way that feels good for them.” She adds that on weeks when women feel “out of balance”, it’s ok if they are in tune with their priorities and where they are at that time.

So wouldn’t it be nice to leave work life balance behind us? Wouldn’t it be nice to sway between priorities based on what you (yes, you!) need at that time? To go with the ebbs and flows of everyday life?

As an organization who supports women business owners and sees balance struggles daily, we say good riddance to work life balance and let’s let our priorities guide and sway us where we need and want to be.

The Centre for Women in Business is Nova Scotia’s leading resource for women entrepreneurs. They support women business owners through complimentary one-on-one advisory sessions, business skills training, trade missions, networking opportunities, and more.

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