Work-Life Balance... Myth or Reality?

Many women say the phrase “work-life balance” is more like a sweet elusive fantasy akin to the tooth fairy rather than a real, achievable goal. But Marla Beck, a Northern California life and career coach who mainly works with creative types, doesn’t agree.  

“The very first key is to cultivate a curious mind about this. You have to try different ideas out and observe how they work for you. For most women striking a work-life balance is a process and you have to be gentle on yourself and not judge when your life feels really out of whack.”  Crazy today, crazy this week, or even this crazy quarter—Beck’s favorite way to parse time-- doesn’t mean imbalanced forever.  

“I teach my clients to think in quarters because it offers a lot of flexibility. Set small, attainable quarterly goals with the intention that your priorities and goals will likely change quarter to quarter.” Perhaps you want to push yourself by working more hours, aiming for a lofty sales goal or doing more client outreach this quarter, but next quarter your daughter is graduating and you’ll scale back because you know she’ll need you more. “For many women, goal setting based on quarters keeps them on track with their career, but also builds in the flexibility they need for their home and family.”  

Interestingly, Beck says women shouldn’t be afraid of time limitations or talk themselves out of taking on a project because they’re only able to work a certain number of hours a day. “It’s kind of counterintuitive, but time limitations can actually be your best friend. When someone knows that she only has until 2pm and then after that she’s mom again, it’s amazing what gets accomplished. I see it happen all the time.” 

But if you truly want balance, Beck contends there’s one non-negotiable: you have to treat yourself well. “You’re your most precious resource. You have to invest in yourself like you’re the talent.” Talent wouldn’t habitually skip sleep, not eat properly and not take care of her health. “We’re all more beautiful, more successful and more balanced when we’re rested and happy.” 


Victoria Clayton is a Southern California-based writer who has contributed to, The Los Angeles Times, Redbook, Self and many other publications. She was a health and parenting columnist for  She’s a wife, mom, small business owner, intrepid cook and yoga lover.

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