The NBA Woman of Today; Striking a Balance between Career Growth and Family Life
KEYNOTE ADDRESS BY THE HONOURABLE, THE CHIEF JUDGE OF BAYELSA STATE, HON. JUSTICE KATE ABIRI, CON AT A 2-DAY WORKSHOP TITLED “THE NBA WOMAN OF TODAY, STRIKING A BALANCE BETWEEN CAREER GROWTH AND FAMILY LIFE AS WELL AS MAINTAINING A HEALTHY LIFESTYLE.” ORGANISED BY THE NBAWF ON THURSDAY, THE 1ST AND FRIDAY THE 2ND OF DECEMBER, 2022 AT THE CONFERENCE HALL OF THE MULTI-DOOR COURT HOUSE, YENAGOA
I am pleased to welcome you all on this auspicious occasion of the two-day workshop on the topic “The NBA Woman of today, striking a balance between career growth and family life as well as maintaining a healthy lifestyle.” organized by the NBAWF.
This workshop could not have come at a better time than now as it has become a matter of great concern to all of us in active legal practice. Work all day with no avenue to pay attention to other aspects of one’s life brings with it neglect and imbalance. This is because life is multifaceted and no sphere of the female Lawyer’s life should be underrated at any point in time. While commitment to work serves as a paddle for career growth through key performance indicators, work-life balance should be a determination of success because good health, marriage, family, self-development, skill acquisition, rest, and recreation but to mention a few are constituents of work-life balance.
WHAT IS WORK-LIFE BALANCE, AND WHY IS IT IMPORTANT? || The NBA Woman of Today; Striking a Balance between Career Growth and Family Life
Work-life balance is the state of equilibrium where a person equally prioritizes the demands of one’s career and the demands of one’s personal life. A good work-life balance has numerous positive effects, including less stress, a lower risk of burnout and a greater sense of well-being. Often times, the phrase “work-life balance” is used to describe the standard procedure that we should adhere to, implying that there is a world called work and another called life that you should strive to balance. There is no doubt that the demands which make for progression and career success seem to be at loggerheads with other aspects of our lives, be it marriage, raising of children, bonding with family, hobbies and leveraging personal ambitions; however, I think the origination of the issue lies first with how we think about career success vis-à-vis the other aspects of our lives.
SOME OF THE COMMON REASONS THAT LEAD TO A POOR WORK-LIFE BALANCE INCLUDE:
- Increased responsibilities at work
- Working longer hours
- Increased responsibilities at home
In the world called work, Mondays often mark the beginning of a work-filled week after the weekend rest. The hustling usually starts as early as 7:00am and living this type of life repeatedly inevitably takes its toll on other aspects of the female Lawyer’s life which comes with stress and fatigue if not properly managed. The narrative is however different depending on the marital status of the individual and the nature of work the individual engages in because returning home from work does not necessarily mean that work is over as work activities may still encroach into the personal life of the female Lawyer who could still receive urgent mails to treat.
In the world called life, family is an integral angle of work-life balance for both single and married female Lawyers and hence should be afforded ample attention. Family tends to feel neglected after endless nights of staying late at the office to complete an all-important project. Or, on the other end of the spectrum, female Lawyers still find themselves in the same dead-end position years later, because they have to leave work on time to pick up their kids from their after-school activities. Unfortunately, this can sometimes be self-inflicted; to get out of the mess, female Lawyers need to organize their time better and get their priorities in order. The concept of work-life balance stems from the old adage which goes by ‘all work and no play, makes Jack a dull boy’. A deeper understanding of this adage is that the lack of balance between work and relaxation would render a person dull and stunted from a holistic standpoint. Therefore, there is need to jump out of the long hours of work and rejuvenate in order to have an equilibrium in our family life as well as maintaining a healthy lifestyle. If life revolved solely around work, there will be no structures for leave, pension, and retirement.
HOW TO ENSURE WORK-LIFE BALANCE || The NBA Woman of Today; Striking a Balance between Career Growth and Family Life
The desire to strike a balance therefore between working and family life is a big challenge. Sadly, child rearing and housekeeping are just part of the many challenges confronting women in practice. In this productivity-driven society that we are living in, more and more female Lawyers are finding it hard to adequately fulfill their roles both at home and at the workplace. More often than not, female Lawyers cannot find a point of balance between their careers and their families, and one is given more priority than the other. This behavior has been associated with several dysfunctional outcomes—strained family relationships, inefficiency at work, and poor physical and mental health. Hence, female Lawyers need to learn and work on balancing work and family life.
STEPS TO BALANCING WORK AND FAMILY || The NBA Woman of Today; Striking a Balance between Career Growth and Family Life
- Get Rid of Stress
Clarity and peace of mind are essential in balancing. Our minds get clogged with stress hormones with the constant hustle and bustle of the day. Coming home and indulging yourself in activities to lower stress will help you clear your mind and relax your body. When you are relaxed and happy, you will be refreshed to work and willing to give time to your loved ones at home.
- Make Balance a Priority
Achieving work life balance is a long and often difficult process. If you do not make the conscious decision to achieve balance, you will likely fail along the way.
I have learned through my experience that it is very important to provide yourself with the opportunity for balance.
- Strengthen Your Bond with Family
Building strong communication with your family members is imperative in bringing a work-life balance. Sharing your work life with your family and letting them know your work struggles can help them understand your perspective. If they know your work problems, they will be less demanding and more supportive of you, when you delegate duties to them or other paid assistants.
- Add Flexibility to Your Workspace.
Having workplace flexibility can make your life a lot easier. You can work from home or any other remote location without compromising your family time. Studies have also shown that having a comfortable workspace improves your productivity and increases job satisfaction levels.
5. Develop A Routine
Balancing family and work life is all about consistency. Having a routine does not mean streamlining your daily chores and tasks. The female Lawyer must build a routine for herself where she can unwind at the end of the day and de-stress her body. Developing a routine for herself will help her stay more consistent and focused on her work, and she will also be able to spare time for her family. The female Lawyer could spend some hours in the office after Court or any official assignment that takes her out and then take some work home. I used to do such work after my children have gone to bed.
- Prioritize Your Health
Health comes above all. It is important to prioritize yourself and add activities to your routine to help you stay healthy and fit. Staying healthy and fit includes following a healthy diet, exercising daily, and getting adequate sleep.
- Establish Boundaries Between Work and Family
It is important that female Lawyer create boundaries between work and family. This means determining which actions are acceptable and unacceptable. Boundaries hold the line to protect her work from the distraction of family, as well as to protect her family from the obligations at work. With clear boundaries, it is easier for her to tell when her action is not in favour of one aspect of her life.
RECOMMENDATIONS || The NBA Woman of Today; Striking a Balance between Career Growth and Family Life
- The adage all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy simply means lack of balance between work and relaxation. Therefore, the female Lawyer should take out time to indulge in activities that will reduce stress.
- The female Lawyer should learn to prioritize her work in order to avoid heavy work load to enable her fulfil her roles both at home and at the workplace.
- The female Lawyer should learn how to delegate duties both at home and the workplace.
- The female Lawyer should pay attention on her health by exercising daily, maintaining a healthy diet and going for regular medical check-up.
Learning how to balance work and family life is not easy. 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.
Essentially, 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 get ahead, but don’t forget the worth of the things and people that really matter most.
Thank you for listening.
HON. JUSTICE KATE ABIRI, CON, CHIEF JUDGE
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