The Scroll: What's the Formula to Work-Life Balance?

The short answer: There isn’t one, exactly. While that may not be the answer you are looking for, the truth is you need find one that works for you. At each stage of your life there will be a certain busyness – whether you’re loaded with schoolwork, hitting the ground running with your first job out of college or starting a new relationship. Or perhaps you’re already married and starting a family … then comes managing your kids (and their schedules, too).

Jessica Meilleur

Jessica Meilleur

In each of those stages there will be certain things that are more important to you than others, and when you fulfill your desire to do those things, you’ll often be happier and feel more balanced, too. So how exactly do you achieve “balance” and what can you do to get there?

While attending a UST Young Alumni Education Roundtable, I gathered some tips from two experts – Becky Durham, a St. Thomas career specialist, and Aimee Petra, St. Thomas Alumni Association president and CEO of a family business – and added my own twist. While none of these may be groundbreaking ideas, they definitely give you some food for thought.

Focus on yourself first

First and foremost, make time for yourself. While this one seems easy, we often forget in the chaos of life to make time for ourselves, and it’s hard to do with so much going on. But if you can, this will add to your happiness and a feeling of “balance” in which you can share that happiness with others.

Prioritize what’s most important to you

Spending the majority of your time on what matters most to you will not only put you at ease, but it also will make you feel good and be happier, too! There’s a reason this is No. 2; it should be at your core and you should use it as a guide – choosing activities, outings and events that support the priorities in your life.

Learn how to juggle (figuratively)

There always will be moving parts to your life. The key is to find a rhythm and remain flexible – like juggling. Forbes recently published a story, “Work-Life Balance Is Over – Create a Work-Life Flow,” and it couldn’t be more true. The story spoke about making your work and life sync into a “flow” that makes it easier to find “balance.” Rather than being enemies, your work and life are allies and should work together in tandem. While this may sound like gobbledygook or “business speak,” the idea is to stop separating your work and your life (which is how some people think when they hear the term "work-life balance") and think of them as joint parts working together to make your life holistic.

Give yourself permission to let go

At the end of the day, you’re not going to make everyone happy and you’re certainly not going to make others happy if you’re not happy yourself. Give yourself permission to say “no,” let go of expectations you think others have of you (I know, easier said than done), and remove any activities from your life that are draining. You certainly will enjoy yourself and your company more.

Share with others

One of the most important tips I gathered was being able to share my situation with others and hear their stories as well. There were so many other people in similar situations – balancing work-life and making the adjustment from student to full-time job (and starting a career!) – and I found that making time to discuss with others will put you at ease and spark ideas on how you can achieve “balance” or a “flow” in your own life.

At the end of the day, you are responsible for you – your own life and your own happiness – and you need to find a rhythm that works for YOU. As Kathy Kacher said in a recent Minnesota Business Magazine story: “Nobody can be successful, engaged, and productive if they are feeling out of control about how they manage their personal life.”