Work-Life Cohesion: It’s a Mindset – Part I

Here’s a story about how one “bad day” at the office turned into an epiphany that would alter my approach to “doing it all.”

Nothing in particular had occurred to deem this a “bad day”; in fact, it was a normal day in terms of my meetings and overall responsibilities. But for some reason I felt frantic, anxious… just, off. I had returned to work only a few months ago from a four-month-long maternity leave. In this newfound role of “working mom life,” I had been full steam ahead, firing on all cylinders when it came to work, parenting, and my most recent passion of fitness.

But in this moment, I was overwhelmed by an inner disappointment that I was falling short in all areas of my life. I literally couldn’t catch up from a growing to-do list, both at the office and at home, and I felt guilty I chose the gym over extra time with my son that morning. This growing disappointment was also fueled by a paranoia I appeared to be slacking off at work when I locked myself in a conference room to make personal phone calls.

And let me tell you, this scene had become a norm in my life as of late.

So, what did I do? Turned to good ol’ Google. There I sat at my desk, typing in “work life balance.” It was a moment of desperation. Surely someone in the cyber universe had some speck of advice that would provide the answer for finding an equilibrium in which the demands of my professional life would be completely equal with family life.

Sure enough, Google didn’t disappoint, leading me to a plethora of mommy blogs and articles dedicated to providing assurance that balance is possible and an abundance of tips for succeeding at this so-called “balance.” I scrolled through, digested a few pieces of advice (be an early bird! Schedule your workouts!), decided I would try some of these suggestions out, and moved on with my day.

This moment—this frantic, strange, desperate moment of me looking to the internet to solve all of my problems—was eye-opening. It made me realize that this desperation to have the formula for successfully “doing it all” was never going to happen. Because I wasn’t looking at it—my situation—the right way.

I realized the problem in and of itself is this constant search for a so-called work-life balance where we sit on a metaphorical seesaw of work and personal life, and it’s always completely horizontal. But to the contrary, when you sit on a seesaw by yourself, you will always be weighing down one side, while the other end sticks up straight into the air. And, once you push off the ground to lift yourself off, you’ll reach that equilibrium only for a split second, but sure enough you will end up rising toward the sky, the opposite view of where you started.

My friends.. this notion that work and personal life will always be steady and your satisfaction with one will always equal the other, is not achievable.

Instead, I challenge you to change your mindset like I have. I have since replaced this objective of work-life balance with what I like to dub “work-life cohesion.” It’s an attitude and intention of strategically unifying the demands of all areas of your life and consciously utilizing the hours of your day to achieve your goals (be it professional or personal). It’s this idea that not one day is the same, not one situation is the same, and your needs will not always be the same on any given day. Even when pulled in multiple directions, the struggle of managing the two facets of life becomes easier when we blend them together in a manner that suits us.

And just like those many career advice articles I found on my frantic day, I would like to offer some actionable tips that I necessarily didn’t discover on Google, but in my own self-discovery. I think (or more hope) that these can apply to anyone’s life—whether you work, travel often, or stay at home to care for your family.

Next week, I’ll outline some tactics I’ve applied to my life to help you be more conscious in your actions to help you succeed at your endeavors and fuel your soul (and not make you feel guilty about doing one over the other some days, but rather cultivate cohesiveness in your life).

Tammy Martinez is a production manager for a print management company in Stamford, CT. She spends her free time sharing safer beauty and inspiring other women with self-care and self-love tips through her passion project with Beautycounter. When she’s not working, you can find her spending time with family and friends and working out. She lives in Southport, CT with her husband Danny, son Sebastian and fur child Chip.