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Build Your Career Work-Life Balance

Is Work-Life Balance a Myth?

Is Work-Life Balance a Myth?
Credit: Agorohov/Shutterstock

While many employees are searching for the perfect balance of work and home life, there is a clear divide on whether it is actually attainable.

Slightly more than half of Americans believe you can succeed at work, make a good living and contribute to your family and community, if you manage your time well and set the right priorities, according to a new study from the National Journal and the Allstate Corp. However, 40 percent think in today's economy it's an unattainable goal.

While most remain resilient in their efforts to find that perfect work-life balance, it's "clear that amid living standards that have remained essentially stagnant since 2000, many Americans are finding it an impossible puzzle to both provide for their family and participate in family life the way they'd like to," said Ronald Brownstein, editorial director for Atlantic Media.

Younger Americans and men are the most likely groups to think they can "have it all" when it comes to a positive work-life balance. The study shows that nearly 60 percent of 18- to 33-year-olds think they can succeed in balancing a successful career with family and civic commitments, with 61 percent of men feeling the same. Just 48 percent of women believe properly balancing all three facets is achievable.

Stacy Sharpe, senior vice president of corporate relations for Allstate, said the research shows what's at the heart of what it means to live the "good life" for most Americans.

"Family, health, giving back to the community, and earning enough to pay for education and retirement, are all incredibly important to Americans' ability to live the good life," Sharpe said in a statement.

Many believe their employer should be taking steps to make it easier to achieve a successful work-life balance. Nearly 70 percent of those surveyed think that even in today's competitive economy, employers could make it a priority to give workers much more flexibility in their schedules. They think this would make many workers happier, which in turn would make them more productive.

Not all the responsibility for an improved work-life balance is being placed on employers, with the majority of those surveyed believing they should be shouldering some of the work. The study revealed that 60 percent of Americans think they can make their life better if they work hard, improve their skills and education, and provide for their families.

More charitable efforts could also help. Nearly 70 percent said that volunteering and donating to nonprofits from other citizens would also make life better.

The study was based on surveys of 1,000 Americans over age 18.

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based writer who has nearly 15 years' experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.