Photo Credit: Dawid Sobolewski,
Photo Credit: Dawid Sobolewski,

Work-Life Balance in the New Year


Does any of this sound familiar?

Abigail was proud that she could balance the administrative and human aspects at her shelter for homeless families. She enjoyed both, even on a rough day.  She finished the last phone call she could make that evening, about a very competitive bid for her favorite food service vendor. The family that’d just been admitted was settled in their room. Abby had already told the parents about the available services. She was justifiably proud that her shelter was going to receive an award for being a model shelter for homeless families next month.

She checked her phone calendar, kissed her fingers and then touched the pictures of her husband, Barney, and Carla, their baby, which were propped next to the inbox.

Barney had risen to become head of the community relations department and worked flexible hours. He also worked with a group to manage rental apartments, which sometimes could be leased to the shelter residents if they completed the programs. Barney and Abigail’s incomes were balanced equally– although their hours weren’t.

She’d turned off her phone so she could finish her work, but immediately after she turned it back on, the phone rang.

Barney and the baby were on their way home from the emergency room. Carla was okay, but after Barney had found a barrette from one of her braids in the poop of her diaper, he’d raced to get X-rays to see if there was any damage to her intestines.


Racing toward the lobby door, Abigail tripped and dropped her keys. She was on her hands and knees looking for them when she remembered Barney, chasing Carla on his hands and knees. Abigail was usually tired. She was also a little overweight. Barney had arranged his hours so he could drop the baby off at daycare and pick her up earlier than five in the evening. Abigail usually didn’t get home until six or seven, and they took turns preparing dinner. Abigail usually brought healthy carry-out.

She carried responsibility for people’s lives at work and their own lives had seemed balanced. In fact, Barney rarely complained. However, he didn’t always say what he was feeling. She scooped the keys from under one of the chairs and noticed bits of dried crackers, cookies, and a tiny toy truck next to them. A child living here, waiting for his parents to finish paperwork could easily choke or eat second-hand food. She’d have to make sure the night-cleaning crew handled this. Again, Abigail felt she was busy taking care of families in distress while she might have distressed her own family. Where was her work-life balance?


Anybody who has work and a separate life has to find ways to balance the two since each can grow out of proportion to the other. How do you define balance at this time in your life?
Who do you have to balance with at home and what does a balanced life with you look like to them?

How do you communicate with the people in your life? Balance calls for a regular, relaxed but clear discussion, and action plans! Coaching is the best non-judgemental way to develop clear communication and plans that to create the life you want. As an illustration, an easy way to collaborate on ideas about happily-balanced lives is the AIM smart system, developed by iPEC.


A Goal Setting Technique to Keep You On Target | Absolute Transitions

What’s the most balanced situation you can imagine? And the worst? What’s the middle?

Barney and Abigal are general examples, but be specific about your life.


A What’s the acceptable minimum you can deal with? Be specific. Name three “must haves” for home life and three more for work.
I What does your ideal situation look like in both areas? What are six to seven things over the minimum that would make both your work and home life a “10?”
MWhat situations are realistically in the middle– between the other two? Choose all of the acceptable minimums and decide on one to two goals from the ideal that could keep you or both of you humming and happy most of the time.


S – Be specific. To get to a reasonable middle, what’s the first step you need to take for each goal?
MHow will you measure progress toward your goals? Abigail could be home by six twice a week, every week, and she and Barney could schedule those days every Sunday night. The couple could clearly say what they wanted from each other when they made their plans each week. As a result, they could make adjustments  that effectively improved their sense of balance.
A is the initial step achievable? How? Can Abigail and Barney reward themselves with a babysitter and time to spend together or separately each month they meet the goals they are measuring? The reward should be something they both want very much.
RIs it reasonable to expect that Barney and Abigail will be able to do what they planned at this stage in their lives and careers? If Barney had long, regular work hours instead of flexible ones, the measurable goals might need to be different.
T What amount of time will pass before you complete the first step of the goal? Barney and Abigail can talk and plan in the beginning of January and try out their weekly schedules  that month. By February, they should be refining a plan and practicing a new pattern of normal in terms of work-life balance.

I work with couples to build strong relationships at Contact me! [email protected].