In her bestseller Lean In, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg proposes the title “career-loving parent” as a modern alternative to “working mom.” Sandberg might be on to something, according to a new study by professional social network LinkedIn. The study, which surveyed more than 5,300 working women across the globe, identified work-life balance as women's number one career goal. Ten years ago, most women answered the same query with “earning a high salary.” It's high time we recognize that we don’t have to choose between having a life and a career—instead, both facets can be mutually beneficial.
LinkedIn's study found that 65 percent of women wanted a more flexible work environment to manage their careers and families, while 74 percent of women believe you can “have it all”: a fulfilling career, relationship, and children.
The study also identified the top five perceived challenges for women in the workplace: Lack of clear career path, lack of investment in professional development, pay inequality, juggling family life, and lack of mentor or role model. 80 percent identified a flexible work environment as the most important factor for the career success of the next generations of women, and 70 percent identified women at senior levels as another key component.
For the OECD Better Life Index, work-life balance is a central measurement of quality of life. The OECD also includes unpaid labour (think chores and childcare), of which we'll spend one-fifth to one-tenth of our lives doing. The leading countries in terms of flextime also report the greatest life satisfaction, indicating a clear correlation between working just the right amount—and the right way—and thriving.
The term 'work-life balance' often brings to mind a woman juggling a briefcase and a baby. But finding the right balance applies to everyone. Jezebel commented that "when the work-life balance issue is only the domain of moms, it's easier for the corporate world to marginalize it." When we encounter successful professional women, we ask ourselves (and them) how they balance their work and personal life. Much more rarely do we consider asking this question of men. This is because the roles of working man and father are almost always seen as mutually compatible. But the professional world is changing, and employers are providing increasing opportunities for women to have it all. In the meantime, here's a quick reminder of some things you can do to become that well-rounded, career-loving friend/girlfriend/parent/whatever:
Find out about your employer's policies: Many workplaces offer (but don't advertise) different options, including working from home and a more flexible work schedule.
Know when to turn it off: As much as you may love your job, sometimes you need to unplug. You can set your own limits on this—no emails after 9 P.M., no cellphones in the bedroom, etc.
Don't bite off more than you can chew: You need to learn to say no when you've already got so much on your plate—something many women tend to forget.
Love what you do: For some reason, this doesn't get mentioned as much, when it's oh-so-crucial. If you're passionate about your job, you have a far greater chance of creating what I'd like to call a life-life balance.