by Jessica Colombo

What is the definition of work-life balance?  What does it look like?  What does it feel like?  Is it wearing jeans to the office on Friday or making it home to tuck your kids in at night?  Everyone talks about it and says they need it, but what is work-life balance? No really, what is it?

I’m no expert, but Nigel Marsh is. An author and CEO of a prestigious communications firm in Australia, Nigel has written a book and given a TED talk on the subject, that I highly suggest watching.  Oh, hey its right here!

Nigel Marsh at TEDx Sydney

The ugly truth is that some jobs and career paths have written work-life balance out of their job descriptions.  Those jobs are for robots. Your life is your own.  Nigel advised to never put the quality of your life in the hands of a corporation.  They will eat your soul, spit you back out and send you home to your family as a tired, worn out, irritable form of yourself.  Not a pretty picture.

So why do so many of us work so hard without taking some time out to enjoy life?  It could be because we are an individualistic, achievement-oriented society.  But what is achievement? Is it bringing home a huge salary or is it raising a child of whom you can be proud?

Some workaholics say that ‘they’ll have a life when they retire.’  LIFE IS NOW.  I was recently speaking with a family friend about going to Europe this summer.  Questioning my hesitation, he said something that I’ll keep close, “when I was young, I had time and no money.  Now, I have a lot of money and no time.” Just starting out on this journey of life after college, my goal is to never regret not doing something.  Just as I will want to look at my future grown kids and feel good about my involvement in their childhood.

You don’t have to go to Europe or Disneyworld or lose 50 pounds, you just have to do the little things you enjoy like picking up a novel, playing with your kids or having the time to make dinner twice a week.  Live your life on your own terms, and enjoy every second of it.

I think Nigel would agree with my challenge for you to sit down and write down a play by play of a perfect balanced day in the life of YOU.  What would you do?  How far off is that visionary day from your current day-to-day grind?  If its miles away, maybe its time to reevaluate what really makes you happy in life.  But if its only a few yards away, work with your employer to make some minor improvements that will make all their employees’ lives better.  So go!  Get out there and get a life.

Jessica Colombo is senior Spartan Marketer graduating in May from MSU. In addition to working for MSUAA Career Services where she gets to do fun stuff like write for this blog, she also enjoys the little things like rocking out to old school Michael Jackson in her cube whenever possible and eating coffee flavored  Haagen dazs ice cream.

P.S. For a girl who’s currently in the market for a job in a company’s world domination department (and all other readers of this blog,) what is your advice for achieving work-life zen?  What are the little things you do that help you relax?  Do tell!

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