As an Audit Senior Manager with PKF Texas, working in a fast-paced, client- and market-facing environment, as well as being a wife and mother to seven-year-old triplets, life-work balance means something different to me than it does to others.

Recently I was listening to author and marketer, Nigel Marsh, speaking at TEDxSydney from May 2010. He introduced the challenges of maintaining a healthy life-work balance and broke it down into four subsets:

  • Inherently the issue is some professions are simply not compatible with a quality home life.
  • Do not put the fate of our work-life balance in the hands of our employing company or the government, whose motives are different than our own. Marsh goes on to say theirs is to get the most out of us.
  • Elongate the timeframe we seek to achieve this balance. Every day won’t be the ideal balance, so we should be realistic and not wait until retirement – days are too short now and too long later.
  • Tend to all areas of achieving this balance, including mental, physical, faith and more. Most importantly, remember the small things matter most.

I found this short talk pointed and meaningful regardless of the line of work we’re in or what our life outside of work looks like. Every day is a balancing act, but I tell myself regularly that the balance will not be achieved each day but rather spread out over a few months, let’s say.

When I look back, I want to take comfort in the fact that I have done everything in my power to be the person I want to be in my career and at home. A few ways I achieve this is:

  • I take advantage of the flexibility my career and company offer me by front-loading my work earlier in the day – yes, that means I wake up at 4 a.m. on a regular basis – and I work from home when I can, which affords me the ability to take care of things at home or focus on client work requiring critical thinking or is task-intensive.
  • I also focus on enriching all aspects of my life. If I’m not taking care of myself, I can’t take care of others, which means I need to make time for things that are important to me, such as time with my family, downtime, eating healthy, exercising, to name a few.
  • The small things absolutely matter most. These are the things that ultimately define our character, give us a deep sense of pride and are the most impactful to those around us.

At the end of the day, achieving balance doesn’t mean we have to make big upheavals to our lives. It comes down to taking control and deciding what kind of life we want to live, otherwise it might be designed elsewhere for us.

For the video of Marsh’s TED Talk on life-work balance, visit www.ted.com/talks/nigel_marsh_how_to_make_work_life_balance_work