Do you have a conflict between work and family life? You are not alone. It is one of the most common sources of stress for working adults. In this productivity-driven society that we live in more and more people are finding it hard to adequately fulfil their roles both at home and at the workplace. I see this first hand during discussions with clients and candidates each week.

More often than not people are unable to find a point of balance between their careers and their families — there is always one that is given more priority than the other. This behaviour has been associated with a number of dysfunctional outcomes — strained familial relationships, inefficiency at work, and poor physical and mental health.

Hence it is very important that we are able to achieve a balance between our work and our family life. I would love to say I have championed this state from birth (failed!). My views/commitment on this have changed dramatically over the past decade. This weekend just gone amplified this topic (and article) and ongoing importance of focussing and encouraging the quest of such balance. We took the team, partners and kids away to the mountains (think of Christmas in July without mince pies or presents!) seeing the people that really matter to our staff and enjoying quality time in stunning surrounds made me reflect once more on the importance of balance.

Achieving balance may seem to be a very daunting task, but a lot of people have already done it, so there shouldn’t be any reason that you can’t do the same? I myself (in a former role) struggled to balance my work and personal life for some time, but eventually, I have been able to find success.

Here are some tips on how you can get your priorities in order so you can “smell the roses”.

Make the decision to find balance.

Achieving work-family life balance is a long and often daunting process. If you do not make the conscious decision to achieve balance, it is likely that you will fail along the way. I have learned through my experience that it is very important to make an effort to provide you with the opportunity for balance. For instance, you may want to structure your career opportunities that are challenging but not overwhelming. In my early 30’s I worked some crazy hours, coupled with working across 2-3 cities across the east coast every week. I would never put myself, or my family through that again! Think carefully about how family commitments develop over time (kids ages, activities, partners career, etc.) By making wise decisions on the most important matters in your life, attaining balance won’t be a difficult thing.

Involve the people that know you well in the process.

I used to think that I was the only one who could solve my work versus family life conundrum.  But over time, I realized that there is no way for me to get things right if I only rely on what I know–or at least think I know. I made it a point to regularly discuss with my wife, my coach, my (ex) boss and even explored the kids with their perceptions, opinions, and even objections to my work. This opened my eyes to a lot of things and made me better aware of the issues that I needed to deal with and improve. For those taking on a fresh career challenge / new position, I would suggest you make sure that the entire family understands your obligations and responsibilities at work. Then there is more understanding on their part.

Establish boundaries between family and work.

It is important that we create boundaries or imaginary lines of protection between your work and family. This means determining which actions are acceptable and unacceptable. Boundaries hold the line to protect your work from the distraction of family, as well as protect your family involvement from the obligations at work. With clear boundaries, it would be easier for you to tell when your action is not in favour of one aspect of your life. A small simple commitment I made to myself some years ago was “never work on a Saturday”. Now I may on some occasion need to punch out 2-3 hours work on a Sunday – and even conduct an interview with someone if time is critical during a search process but this is rare. This simple commitment works well for me, and others.

“The real world” – accept that imbalance is sometimes unavoidable.

Many people do struggle to attain the perfect balance between work and family. When I first established The Acquire Group I was able to realize that there will always be times that I will have to let work or family take priority. It would be impossible to perfectly balance everything in my life at all times. For example, when a family member is sick, I may need to skip a work event; or when an important deadline must be met, I might need to miss dinner at home and stay working in the office late.

The dilemma of balancing family and work has no easy solution. There is no one-size-fits-all approach. Every person and family must find specific solutions to their issues depending on their own preferences and needs. But basically, a balance between work and family occurs when a person is able to sufficiently meet family commitments and adequately perform responsibilities at work. There is nothing wrong with working hard to gain some of the finer things in life, but you should also not forget the worth of the things and people that really matter most so make sure you “smell those roses” as often as possible.