Work Family Balance: How Do You Measure Up?


“Give ’em an inch and they’ll take a mile.” This quote–often used in a negative context– is said when someone has fully used and gotten the most out of the little that they have in a situation. However, for the sake of this blog, let’s choose to look at this quote in a positive light as it relates to measuring goals for work-family balance.



An inch is a small unit of measure.


Examined in isolation, an inch may not seem like much. But when added to another small inch–one after the other–then it morphs into something greater.


When it comes to goals, our American can-do ethos can make us prone to “go big or go home”  in our approach to goals. Unfortunately, for the majority of people, home is where most go when they’ve given up on accomplishing their dreams of work-family balance. They rarely experience the big.


Would you like to experience “the big?”


Well, after you’ve identified a specific goal (that you’ve made SICK), you will then need to make sure you have something by which to measure yourself.



One of the two universal languages is math.

As a former high school math teacher, you could say I’m being a tad biased in that statement. However, the truth is that math is a universal language and numbers are its “alphabet.”


No matter where you go in the world, numbers  and  the processes of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division remain the same.


Numbers by themselves though don’t mean anything unless they have a unit of measure attached to them. So, when you think of measuring your work-family balance goals, make sure that you attach some “unit of measure” to that numerical goal.


For example, having the goal to “have me time” is like saying “1.”  However, having the goal of “having me time reading a book 30 minutes before bedtime” is like saying “1 inch.” Not only have you gotten specific about your goal but also you’ve given it (“30 minutes” of) meaning .


The purpose of measurement is to track the status of and/or your progress towards something.


Having written down your specific goal, your decision to measure your progress is a way of keeping yourself accountable.




Making yourself accountable to an objective entity (i.e. a measurement) is key. But that measure needs to be BIG.


Broken into smaller pieces.

building blocksIn order to do this, you have to plan with the end in mind. Identify your end goal. Your end goal is what you really want things to look like when all is said and done. With your end goal in mind, break down the goal into smaller chunks that need to be done to accomplish that goal.


If you have to do a “mind-dump,” then do that. Then group those chunks together into a sequence that leads to your end goal.


As a youth, I had the goal of becoming a doctor. So, I identified what kind of colleges and  educational training doctors needed to have and worked it backwards  to the kinds of classes I need to take as an undergrad, high schooler, and middle schooler.


Interjected into the mundane.

After you break your goal into smaller junks, you might think “there is so much” to be done and start to feel discouraged or overwhelmed. Be encouraged. This is where you can get creative.


Have you ever seen the I Love Lucy “Lucy Goes To Work” episode? It’s the one with Lucy making candy for the speedy conveyor belt.


In that episode, Ricky takes over the housework. He knows he has to do the vacuuming but he wants to read the sports page. So, what does he do? He straps the sports page onto the handle of the vacuum cleaner and does both.


Sounds silly? Yes.


But sometimes you have to squeeze what you want to do into or in between the mundane of what you have to do in order to get closer to your end goal.


Grounded in reality.


No goal is too lofty. Setting goals and taking action towards achieving them is a noble cause because those goals are important to you. And you matter!


Goals that are grounded in reality means that you have honestly  taken stock of your current state, assessed the landscape of where you want to be, design and implement steps to help you make progress towards your goal.


Tiger Woods_2005 pictureIn a recent Golf Digest interview, Tiger Woods, described how he practices his shots. He (1) takes a good look at the lie — assesses his current status, (2) shifts his focus to the green complex — examines the particular situation, (3) adjusts his set up and approach with his physical limitations in mind.


Tiger’s goals are grounded in reality. He doesn’t lie to himself. He just acknowledges where  things are and determines what he’ll have to do to get towards his goal.


Remember, the measurement you use for your goals needs to account for the reality of the situation surrounding your state of life that you’re in.


So if you have a goal of running  a 5K race but you have a long car ride to and from work everyday, then you may have to decide if a short 15-minute practice run during lunchtime fits better into your  “3-kid-pick-up-get-food/homework/bedtime, etc.” reality than  a 5:00 a.m. run before work.



Let me know what small measure you’ll be using to reach one of your big goals.




©Dr. Michelle Deering & Curative Connections LLC



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