Is Work-Life Balance A Myth?

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At Make Meaning, we strive to find purpose in work and help others do the same. We learn through Lynne Golodner’s interviews with inspiring people on the Make Meaning Podcast, and helping our clients at Your People LLC market with mission and purpose. 

Ironically, the more meaning we find in our work, the more it grows, sometimes at the expense of personal goals and dreams. 

Responsibilities increase. 

Deadlines mount. 

Distractions multiply. 

Scope bleeds. 

Personal goals are pushed off and postponed. 

Which makes us wonder: Is Balance a Myth?

This is what Kerry Ann Rockquemore, PhD asked in a recent Monday Motivator email, which is sent to members of the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity.  


Kerry Ann is founder of the NCFDD, an organization that helps develop, train and mentor faculty members, postdocs, and graduate students, toward advancing their careers. 

She often sees academics struggle to find work-life balance, and she believes work often wins because of its built-in accountability mechanisms. 

Creating your own accountability

Teaching in a classroom, grading papers, and hosting office hours hold automatic accountability. If you don’t show up, there are immediate consequences. 

Not so with activities in our personal lives. We cancel writing, put off exercising and say we’ll spend time with loved ones later. 

Kerry Ann questions why we prioritize seemingly urgent “tasks du jour” at the expense of activities that lead to long-term health, personal success and strong relationships.

She encourages us to give up the false belief that if we just work harder, eventually we will get everything done. That’s the real myth.

Letting go of that notion allows us to “shift energy towards identifying our personal and professional priorities, aligning our time, and working as efficiently as possible within a 40-hour workweek,” Kerry Ann writes. 

In the days of remote working and learning, as tasks bleed even more into our personal lives, we appreciate Kerry Ann’s message, and we’re eager to share her tips on how to manage a heavy workload.

Five Steps to Real Balance
  1. Sharpen your focus. Devote time each day to things that contribute to your long-term success, professionally and personally. 
  2. Stop thinking you are selfish. What do you put off personally in favor of work you feel you owe others?
  3. Identify one problem area to resolve in order to be more productive. What prevents your productivity? Pick ONE and work to eliminate it.
  4. Take one small step toward change. Whatever problem you identified in step 3, decide on ONE concrete thing you can do to resolve it THIS WEEK.
  5. Be patient with yourself. Learning to manage your workload and maximize productivity takes time. But the good new is, balance is not a myth. It is attainable.

At Your People, we work with a lot of academics, schools and universities, including Cleary University, Walsh College and Waldorf Schools, as well as educational leaders on their personal and professional branding. Plus, Lynne Golodner is herself an academic, teaching at University of Detroit Mercy for the past decade.

We know how challenging it can be to find work-life harmony not only in the educational sphere, but for everyone. Kerry Ann’s advice applies to all of us. 

How can we shut out distractions, create accountability for personal goals, and find balance in life? 

Words of Wisdom

Lynne Golodner interviews insightful leaders on her Make Meaning Podcast about how they find meaning and purpose in life. Since this blog was inspired by a resource for academic faculty, we wanted to share some of our best episodes featuring educational leaders:

  • Episode 84: Andrew Meloche — How to Make Every High School Student Feel Special and Noticed
  • Episode 85: Michele Cuomo — Recognizing the Value in State and Community Colleges
  • Episode 88: David Hornak — How to Change the School Year so Kids Retain What They Learn
  • Episode 92: Andrew Flagel Aims to Make Universities Stronger, More Connected and More Relevant