Work life balance died with the pager.
Some people will spend their entire careers fighting for it but they’re doing themselves a disfavor. True balance is impossible. Struggling to find it will never yield satisfying results and you will feel put upon and used.
Relationships Are Never Balanced
Who gives more you or your association’s members? You put in hours of work for them. They pay you dues. Who gives more?
Who gives more in your relationship with your partner, your best friend, or your child?
When you start thinking in that way you often realize how much you give versus what you receive and an otherwise happy relationship loses its luster when you analyze the time each of you spends in your given role.
The same can be said of work versus life. When you draw the line between them, you’ll feel pulled and dissatisfied.
Embrace Members' Increased Expectations
Social media and technology have changed our members’ expectations. Some of us may be in associations where our members’ expectations haven’t increased yet but it’s coming. Smart phones and instant notifications have caused members to expect prompt replies, even off business hours.
While no one expects you to monitor your online community like someone would a server, failure to be responsive has caused many PR nightmares for organizations. When someone draws the line between work and life, and a work incident occurs during their scheduled life time, they feel put upon if they respond to it, and (potentially) unemployed if they don’t.
Association professionals are some of the most passionate out there. They serve tirelessly. The key to finding a work-life balance is giving up on the notion. It’s a unicorn. It doesn’t exist.
“Find something you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.”
That popular saying doesn’t mean you literally win the lottery when you identify something you love, and you can retire at a young age. It means when you find something you love, it doesn’t feel like work. When you love your profession that line between work and life blurs. You love your work so you don’t see it as such.
Instead of seeing technology and social media as stealing from your life, recognize how they allow you to work in nontraditional ways, from non-traditional places. Don’t bemoan an email from a member coming in after hours. You can attend to it, look like a superstar for your quick attentive response, and have one less thing waiting in your in-box in the morning.
Technology takes us away from the office drudgery. The key to work happiness is in embracing what this affords us, an ability to bring some of our home life into our work and our work into our home. We can have lunch with our child or get in a workout during the day because our office is now mobile.
This is the attitude people will need to embrace to be successful in the future. Counting minutes of service to your members won’t work. They’ll expect you to be available just as they must be available to their stakeholders.
If you fight it, you’ll be miserable constantly counting the minutes and coming up short. If you find reward in your work and a flexible attitude, you’ll never feel shortchanged.