Balancing Career And Family

by Elaine Cercado

Balancing is not that difficult once you have taken the arduous process of setting your mission and priorities in life.

The first and foremost step is to define your mission in life. There are many processes available. But the one process I effectively adapted for myself and our family was The Path method by Laurie Beth Jones.  I also read the book “The Purpose Driven Life” by Rick Warren and it gave me fresh, broad and deep life perspectives.

Once you know your mission (the process of what we need to do) and you have a vision (the end result of what we will have done), then your values and priorities become crystal clear. When your priorities are clear, you know which role weighs more, which goal to pursue first, which issue to address first, which activity to execute first.

But don’t expect that things will become perfectly balanced once you’ve defined your mission in life. Sometimes the day to day activities don’t seem to add up to your top priorities. How do you handle such instances?

Give your best to each role. I put heavy importance on personal integrity.  There shouldn’t be shortchanging at work nor at home. Example, when going for vacation I ensure all work deliverables are done & turned over to my boss and all relevant persons to ensure my family vacation time is not interrupted by office calls or emails.

There will always be imperfect situations & exceptional cases like when a critical situation happens at the same time at work and home. When this happens, my rule is to weigh which of the two is at more risk. If there is time, I discuss with the persons concerned, which could be my work boss, or my spouse. If time is of the essence, then I use my best judgement on the risk involved. For example, if a loved one is sick, and at the same time, I have a very important customer or business meeting e.g. closing a major deal, I weigh in my options. Could delaying the customer meeting put the company at risk it cannot afford? Is there a co-worker who could take my place and achieve the same results?

Personally, as I’ve put my mission as a mother and wife above my mission as a corporate manager or entrepreneur, my role as a mother and wife takes first priority. This is a personal decision driven by my strong sense of purpose. A father, usually the head and main provider of a family could look at this situation differently, as there is a personal (job and family) security risk aside from business risk, to weigh. A younger or single person could also look at this differently, as he or she would be focused on climbing the corporate ladder, and corporate crunch times or crisis situations could serve as opportunities to demonstrate abilities that could be left unnoticed under normal circumstances like analyzing risks or making quick decisions.

There are other important factors that make balancing easier but these could be beyond your control. For instance, a company culture that values work-life balance can make a difference. A boss who understands and cares, versus one who demands and does not empathize at all, can make a difference. And most of all, a family who does not complain, rather, applauds and encourages your efforts to balance, can make a big difference.

I do not encourage you to depend on these “uncontrollable” factors, instead focus on defining your mission and priorities. When your priorities are clear, you know which role weighs more, which goal to pursue first, which issue to address first, which activity to execute first.

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