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Picture Your Work-Life in Balance: It Can Be Done

This is a sponsored post brought to you by City of Hope Orange County.

As a mother of six, grandmother of 13, and a health care executive with a demanding career, I’m always asked about work-life balance. Because pictures tell a better story, I’m sharing both words and images to show you how I found that sweet spot after years of effort to get it right. 

Balancing Work

Find Your Mission – I love this photo because our team is engaged in purposeful work we’re passionate about – building a world-class cancer center for our community. Years ago, I realized that work was necessary to help my family financially, so I decided to make all those hours on the job worth it. I sought positions where I could make the biggest impact, and the satisfaction I receive keeps me going. We spend so much of our lives at work. Time is too precious not to have purpose at work and love the people with you on the job.

Don’t apologize – Get your work done so you can be there for important family events. Never apologize for making good use of your time so you can be there for your family.  When you’re efficient, you’re modeling excellent behaviors. Give yourself credit for being a role model and get to that school play, game, or graduation. You and your family will cherish the memory. No apologies necessary.

Ask for what you want – Here I am at the board table, right where women belong. I always knew I wanted to lead people. That’s why I pursued a master’s degree in health care administration while raising my busy family. Once I had the credentials, I made it known to others exactly what I wanted to do. Speak up about where you want to go and always take your seat at the table. 

Find a sponsor – I believe in sponsors and am passionate about being a sponsor myself. Here I am speaking at the national Women Leaders in Healthcare Conference, hosted by Modern Healthcare, which has honored me several times as one of the nation’s most influential executives. As a sponsor, I’ll support the people I believe in, carrying their papers into the conference rooms where decisions are made. I’ll say, “Hire her. Promote her.” Sponsors are also honest about where you could use some polishing. 

Happiness at Home

Find the right partner – Look at us in our goofy Christmas sweaters, and there’s my husband, Chuck, front and center. I knew when I met him he was the right choice for my life partner. Young adulthood is filled with important decisions that you must take seriously (although I highly recommend finding a partner who makes you laugh!). Choose a spouse who shares your values and, if you want to start a family, do it as equals. Chuck and I are the partners who, together, made Team Walker.

Get help – Prioritize what needs to get done, and, if you can, get help for everything else. Your children don’t care if you clean the house or someone else does it. However, they do care that you are there for them for important conversations and delighting in their achievements. Ask kids to pitch in with chores, too. It won’t break them and teaches competence and responsibility.

Cherish moments – There are few moments more fulfilling than snuggling with your child for a bedtime story. Yet, most working parents can admit to skipping a few pages now and then to abbreviate the nighttime ritual. It’s understandable, especially at the end of a particularly long day but keep in mind that being present for your family is just as important as being present at work. My advice is to slow down, embrace the moment, and embrace your child. A bedtime story, like so much of early childhood, doesn’t last forever. 

Know that it gets easier – It is true that the days are long as you move from toddler mayhem to teenage moods. However, the years whiz by. I’m now at the stage when I can watch my children become parents, which is infinitely fulfilling. Here I am with the grandchildren I love to spoil.

Of course, everyone’s experiences are different. However, if you choose to blend work and family, it is possible to put everything in perspective. I sincerely hope that’s how the picture develops for you.

Annette M. Walker is President, City of Hope Orange County, and has been twice named one of America’s most influential health care executives.