We want to have it all – a balanced life, with a successful career, a warm family, great friends and hobbies and some time for ourselves. But is it truly possible, or is it just an urban myth? Can we actually achieve work-life balance?
A short and witty video from The School of Life tends to argue we cannot:
They argue in the video that, while we can juggle many balls in the air in the same time, we cannot devote the same resources to multiple areas, at the same intensity. So we can have perfectly fine careers and private activities, but having it all is an utopia.
Let’s look at some successful people and their family lives:
- Albert Einstein – the developer of the theory of relativity. He was married twice, once for 16 years and the second time for 17, until his wife Elsa died. He had 2 sons with his first wife. In terms of hobbies, he had time to enjoy sailing and play the violin.
- Roger Federer – one of the best tennis players in history, is married since 2009 with Mirka Vavrinec. They have together two sets of twins, two girls and two boys.
- Barack Obama – president of the US. He is for sure a very busy person. He has been married with Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama since 1992, and they have two girls together. He is very fond of exercising and a Harry Potter fan.
- Bill Gates, the man behind Microsoft, is as well happily married to Melinda Gates since 1994. They have three kids together. He is an avid bridge player, and loves tennis in his spare time.
- Oprah Winfrey – America’s first lady of talk shows. She has been dating Stedman Graham since 1986, but stated she will never marry him.
To read more about interesting hobbies of CEOs, check this article.
We can, of course, not know what is happening behind closed doors. Public figures show themselves in the best light. However, many successful persons appear to be supported by loved ones, more or less publicly. People get married, people build families. Is it a requirement of our society or is it just because we simply operate better with a strong support system behind us? We do need love around to feel accomplished.
There is also this myth of people who want to focus 100% on their careers and state they don’t have enough time for fruitful relationships. Yes, fitting everything in your life can be tricky, but with the right person by your side and great time management skills, it can be done. Communication is the key – setting expectations and investing in your loved one as much as possible in the spare time. This way, they would feel wanted and respected, and they will support you in your actions.
Some say that if you want a successful career, you should make sacrifices in your workplace. That building a strong, happy family requires you to put less hours at the office. Is this the real issue, or the fact that our competitive market has made it so difficult to keep our work during working hours? 8 hours per day – isn’t that enough? Do we work so long hours because there is so much work to do, or because our productivity levels are very low, and we spend long breaks scrolling social media?
It depends from case to case, and there are many careers that do require extensive work. However, all normal jobs offer free time and holidays, and finding a balance should be possible. Especially for successful, well-positioned people, that have the resources to hire help. Can it be that you work so long hours because you haven’t been introduced to the wonders of delegating? Invest some time into finding a skillful right hand, that can make your life easier. Learn to trust this person and leave earlier on a Friday to spend more time with your loved ones.
I am a firm believer that you can have it all. Looking around, I see it happening – my grandma is my greatest example. She had a wonderful, long marriage, two healthy kids, a great accounting carreer and wonderful friends. She retired in her 60s, and was then asked back to work for 10 extra years. She raised my mother and my uncle to be successful professionals. She loved my grandfather until the end and raised me, her granddaughter, untul school years. She would regularly meet her friends for rummy on Sundays, and she’s the most amazing cook ever. How did she do it all? Great organization skills, supportive family, and resillience. And last, but not least – by not wondering whether it can be done, but just doing it instead.
This is for her, Eleonora – my rolemodel.