Some Trade-Offs Required

I am often asked about work life balance. It is a topic on the minds of many career women at all levels, whether they are just starting out or wondering if the next promotion is to going to disrupt that balance.

It is great to see how far we have come from the days when women (and men) didn’t talk about their family lives for fear that they would be seen as less committed—or when you could not leave work before your boss did! The culture at American Airlines, and I would hope most corporations, is one of understanding that everybody has a life outside their job and those duties need to be fulfilled as well. Technology has enabled people to work from home, whether it is a regular arrangement or on an “as-needed” basis, which allows us a lot more flexibility to achieve that balance.

Having said that, I do think there are sacrifices or trade-offs, to use a gentler word, that need to be made to achieve excellence in any field. I am reminded of the famous musician who was told by an admirer that they would give their life to play like he did. He smiled and said, “I did.” Hopefully, it doesn’t have to be that drastic for most of us!

Each one of has to decide which trade-offs we are comfortable with. What that looks like is different for each individual. Trying to do it all and expecting that it will all be done well is a recipe for discontent. Resentment about some of the things you have to give up is a clue that things are not balanced for you, and that some introspection and change is needed. Whether that change involves adjusting expectations from the people around you—at work out outside, or your own expectations, or looking for another role that is better suited to your needs is something we have to work out for ourselves.