Looking Ahead: Striking a Balance Between Work and Family From the Beginning

011473253-sign-pointing-futureWhen we’re first starting our careers, we often feel the need to accept everything thrown at us in order to get ahead. Our budding careers often begin in our twenties when all we can see are our hopes for financial and job success. We jump at the chance for promotion, accepting the endless travel, the constant access and round-the-clock demands that our employers want. As with many things in our youth, our vision can be short-sighted. Sure, we may think we want a family down the line, but we don’t necessarily plan for one. We see our future career skyrocketing with acclaim and financial perks, and sometimes we don’t see how this hectic frenzy will affect our life down the road. We don’t see, or we choose to ignore, how this career expectation will stress our lives in the present and in the future. Luckily for us, more traditional jobs are evolving into positions with flexibility which means that you won’t have to abandon your career when the demands of the job keep you from the joys of your family.

Some companies are beginning to change their policies to be more family-friendly while top executives are speaking out about needing a better balance between work and family like former banking executive Sallie Krawcheck. In a recent article for career network LinkedIn, she offered her big idea for 2013: “flexibility without shame.”

“Smart companies will allow movement among different workstyles during the course of a career without implicitly penalizing individuals for their choices, as so often happens today. They will recognize that technology enables flexibility, productivity and team formation in ways not previously possible… They will recognize that having employees fully engaged in part-time work can be better than their being distractedly engaged in full-time work (or, of course, opting out completely).”

Krawcheck knows what she’s talking about. One look at job markets today, and you can see that flexible is where it’s at. You may not need work-from-home or part-time hours now, but further down the road if you enter into a partnership or get married, with or without children, chances are that you’ll need more flexibility to find a balance between your career life and your family life. The earlier you can find a company that offers these options, the better off you’ll be in the long run. And don’t let your extensive education and training keep you mired in an executive position that’s bad for your stress levels and personal relationships. Some companies, especially non-profits, are hiring part-time executives. These positions appeal not only to working mothers but also working fathers, military spouses who get uprooted frequently, and older professionals who have retired from traditional jobs yet still wish to work.

The bottom line is that the stress of your career may not bother you now, but chances are that it will weigh on you further down your job path. This doesn’t mean that you have to abandon your career entirely to save your sanity, and with some research, chances are that you can find a company that offers you more flexible options to help you balance work and your personal life. Keep in mind no matter how many years you work, “balance is best.”



Big Idea 2013: Flexibility Without Shame. LinkedIn, 11 Dec. 2012. Web. 31 Jan. 2014.

The 10 Best Jobs for Work and Family Balance. Forbes, 12 Dec. 2012. Web. 31 Jan. 2014.