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Achieving a Satisfying Work/Life Balance

Achieving a satisfying work-life balance seems to be a harder feat to accomplish with every year and every obligation that comes our way. Even the term “work-life” seems to imply that work is not real life at all, but an obligation we must fulfill. The phrase implies that real life only happens after 5pm. In reality, we spend more time working than we do at almost any other activity. It is crucial to enjoy work and enjoy time away from work in order to have a satisfying life.

Time Magazine reports that in the ten years from 1986 to 1996, work-life balance was mentioned in the media only 32 times. In 2007, it was mentioned 1674 times. Our culture seems to be struggling as the years pass to find a sense of balance.

Here at Visionary, we thrive in an environment where work-life balance is made a priority. Thanks to great management and a laid back environment, everything is in place to give us a great balance. However, with kids or a busy schedule, it’s not always the easiest thing to do. We have a full spectrum of workers here – one has just had a baby and is transitioning back to working full time, many have houses full of kids or step-kids, some are very involved in the community, and several are planning weddings. How is this all accomplished? What sort of tips for success can we take from those who feel they have a successful work-life balance? 

I’ll let them tell their story.  

Tell us about your situation. Are you often busy with kid’s activities? Are you planning a wedding? Are you very involved with the community?

“Outside of work I have two children around most of the time, and I am in the final stretch leading up to my wedding. I am also involved as a board member of the Ankeny Young Professionals.”
– Bryan Gruhlke

“With a couple of toddlers at home and a husband who works out of state two full weeks each month, it definitely takes a little juggling and compromise in order to find the right work-life balance. Although my family is always top priority each day, fitness is also important to me. I have learned that getting up early to work out while my family is still sleeping allows me to be home with them each evening.” – Kelli Heurter 

“I have been married since 2005 and have a daughter who is four years old now. She is involved in soccer and Preschool. I do a lot of freelance photography, as I have been a photographer since 2000. I stay busy with graphic design and photography work and hanging with my family when I am not at work. We do a lot as a family together. We go to movies, the science center, and zoo a lot. I am also part of the marketing committee at my daughter's private school, which is a lot of graphic design and photography.” – Jacinda Bevilacqua

“Just coming back to work after an 11-week maternity leave. I’m busy keeping a 12-week-old alive.” – Sarah Bailey

“My Life Conspirator, Rob, and I share parenting of our two sons with their mother and their stepfather. Our parental relationship is very collaborative. We split the time 50% in each home, but try to all be involved for special events like sports, music, theatre, etc. Although we are not always busy with specific activities, we are still very busy with the day-to-day activities. Rob and I work full time jobs, he is also an artist, teaches art classes, and sings in a local rock band. I travel for work, am active in the East-South Chamber of Commerce, play piano, and belong to a local wine club. As a family, we try to stay very active in the community by attending art and music events, the farmer’s market, and various festivals.” – Monica Langin

“I am a huge proponent of fostering a healthy work-life balance. With working full-time, being married and having five kids between the ages of 9 and 17, life can sometimes be chaotic. However, I promise…creating a healthy balance is possible! I think the biggest key is in understanding you will never be able to “do it all”. Learning to let go of the need for the perfect house, perfect job, perfect kids…will be a huge step in finding contentment.” – Laine Mendenhall-Buck

Do you feel as though you are a “live to work” personality or a “work to live” type personality?

“I am a “work to live” type of person. I love my job.” – Bryan Gruhlke

“I have been working since I was a little kid as my family has their own business and I always helped with a lot of busy work. So I grew up to live to work I guess as I like to work as I like to have things to do and keep myself busy.” – Jacinda Bevilacqua

“I’m definitely a work to live-type of person. I always have been, even before Mr. Brooks came into my life. I enjoy working, but I can’t say I enjoy it more than a cold beer on a patio in the summertime.” – Sarah Bailey

“I am neither a live to work or a work to live personality…now. There are times where I lean more one direction than the other. In my thirties, I was definitely more of a ‘live to work’ person, which unfortunately had a negative impact on my personal life, and my work life. Experiencing my dad suffer the effects of and losing his life to Alzheimer’s and Dementia, after he had worked forty years and taken only one sick/personal day in that forty years, I realized I had so little time in my life that I should enjoy it more. Now nearing 50, I am constantly making positive changes to enjoy life more.” – Monica Langin

Do you feel as though you’ve achieved a comfortable balance between work and life?

“It has taken me quite a while to get to a good spot, but I am pretty comfortable. In past I spent too much time working and not enough time doing other activities.” – Bryan Gruhlke

“Yes, when I leave work, I leave work and I do not talk about work much at home unless something is bothering me or I need help with something. Frank (My husband) has experience in my profession and he is tech savvy, so I look for him for help/advice.” – Jacinda Bevilacqua 

“I think I’m still figuring this part out. It’s really hard to keep your head in the game at work when you’re thinking about your baby being on the verge of rolling over for the first time, or is he going to be too hot in his outfit today, or did you remember to bring caps for your pump bottles, etc… (all things I’m honestly thinking about today). I’m sure these are all just new mom struggles that will eventually even out over time, but for now I have to really work to keep focused while I’m at my desk and the minute I feel comfortable leaving for the day, I’m out. I’m confident this is just where I am in life and once Brooks becomes a bit more independent, I’ll be able to focus more on setting some goals in my work life and working to achieve them.” – Sarah Bailey

“No, but I will keep trying…and I am fairly balanced. My ‘work’ is extremely enjoyable. I am surrounded by individuals who inspire me daily, and who I enjoy and greatly appreciate as friends and coworkers. My friends are really my extended family, and my family is healthy, happy, and loving.” – Monica Langin

Do you feel as though you have to make some sacrifices in order to keep this balance?

“No, I don’t feel I make sacrifices. As a parent I am sometimes doing things that I don’t always think of as “fun,” but it is all worth it. I have enough time to do the things I enjoy.” – Bryan Gruhlke 

“Nope. I enjoy the work and sometimes the stress. If I take a moment and think through the situation it can be figured out. May not be able to accomplish all of it at that moment but I will try with what I have. I do put my faith/family first and then my work family is second.” – Jacinda Bevilacqua 

“Yes. Work has been what’s suffered lately. Just this morning, Brooks fell back asleep on my pillow and I refuse to get up when I could lay there and cuddle with him. I didn’t get out of bed until 7 – which is extremely unusual for me pre-baby. I used to get to work at 7 or 7:30. All I can think about is the fact that I’ll never get this time back with him. (sorry that this has become a weird story about how much I love my baby).” – Sarah Bailey

“Yes, but the sacrifice is worth it. I wake up between 4-5 each morning so that I can exercise, which helps get my body and brain energized, and allows me to be ready to greet the family when they come down for breakfast, and then I can be free after work to meet with friends, get groceries, or do other activities, and get dinner prepped/planned before Rob and the boys get home or finish up their activities. That early wake up time allows me to spend full evenings with them.” – Monica Langin

“I would be lying if I said that didn’t require me to sacrifice a little sleep in order to make that happen. For example, just today, my alarm went off at 3:15 AM so I could quickly pack my clothes and lunch, unlock the gym, teach a 4 AM fitness class before meeting up with my bike friends for a 5:15 AM one-hour bicycle ride around town with just enough time to shower and be ready for work by 7 AM. Crazy to start my day that early? Yeah, maybe. But it allows me to still work a full day and have the entire evening free to hang out with my family. It’s also helpful to work for a company like Visionary that understands and allows the importance for work-life balance. They encourage us to leave our work at work and get concerned when anyone is working much over a normal 40-hour week. A healthy balance between work life and personal life definitely create less stress in the work environment.” – Kelli Heurter

Do you have any tips or “Secrets for Success” regarding how to balance work and life? 

“Find a career that you love. If you are often dreading going to work, or when you get home all you do is complain about your day, find something else. You spend a huge amount of time at work, so make sure you are happy when you’re there.” – Bryan Gruhlke

“No matter how much you get done at work it today, it will be there tomorrow. If you keep a positive attitude, in any situation, over time this will bring you success.” – Jacinda Bevilacqua

“Proper preparation prevents piss poor performance. That is my life motto. I learned this from my husband who learned it during his time in the army. I apply it to all things. As soon as I get home from work, Brooks goes down for a nap and I clean and label bottles, pick up the house, and get dinner ready. Doing these little things shortens my morning routine and keeps me sane. Having a well-prepared dinner with the family is also something I’d like to make a tradition for Brooks. I love cooking too, so that’s kind of my “me” time. I also try to get to bed no later than 9:30 so I know that even though I’ll have to be up with Brooks during the night, I’ll at least be mostly well-rested for the next day.” – Sarah Bailey

“My tips:
1. Routine. Create some type of schedule/routine for your daily activities. Although you can’t schedule everything, if you do schedule the regularly occurring things you will find that you have more time available to do other things. And…you will get the ‘have-tos’ done every day.
2.  Don’t work in a job that you don’t enjoy. Life is too short.
3. Slow down. Life is too short, but it will become shorter if you push too hard. Do something that allows you to relax and slow down. Listen to music, play music, read a book, drink wine.”
– Monica Langin

“Here are a few things I do to help:

1. If you feel pressure at work, talk to your boss about how you create priorities and learn to say “no” when needed.

2. Find time for YOU…whether it’s getting up 30 minutes early to work out or staying up 30 minutes at night to watch your favorite show...take time each day just for you.

3. Organize the daily routines to help your mornings go more smoothly. This may mean packing a lunch the night before or having your outfit set out…the little things add up.

Above all, YOU choose what level of work/life balance is important for you. Write down the things that bring your joy and the things that are stressful, then, see if you have the ability to change your circumstances…or just your attitude about the stresses in life.” – Laine Mendenhall-Buck

Overall, we’ve seen some great advice from workers at Visionary. It truly shows that a work-life balance is possible, with the right attitude and preparation. 

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