I recently returned from an annual academic conference where management researchers from across the country share the results of their business-related research. I attended many sessions, but as always, was drawn to sessions discussing research examining work/life issues.
I didn't learn anything surprising. The usual depressing news that women still tend to take on a heavier domestic workload and those who take advantage of flexible work options sometimes don't get the same opportunities for advancement. But some good news such as the fact that companies who respect work/life issues tend to have more committed employees that work harder, and other news that should encourage companies to offer more flexible work options.
I also attended several sessions that examined factors that influence work satisfaction, or success in business. The research presented reminded me about the role that passion plays in creating happy, productive workers. It's not suprising that people who enjoy what they do work harder. But, they also tend to be more successful in finding balance in their lives. While there are certainly some people who may find their passion leads them to work too much, it is not always the case.
Passion for your work can positively impact you and your family in many ways. First, you feel good about working which helps eliminate the feelings of guilt that many parents face. Your kids also can see your enthusiasm and as a result, are less likely to resent your time away from them. If you are passionate about what you do, you are often able to work harder at it, giving you the ability to potentially work less or different work hours. At the very least, if you are passionate, you are more driven to figure out a way to make it work.
So when I am asked about finding family friendly work, I strongly recommend to first figure out your passion. Maybe you already know what it is, and just need to pursue it. If you don't, then the start for your search for family friendly work should start with some self-reflection to help identify what kind of work truly excites you. Whether you start your own business, or pursue the career of your dreams, passion for your work will help you find success. And most likely, find some work-life harmony too.