you? Well, it used to be me as well. Here’s how I’ve learned to manage the often elusive work life balance. Early in my career, I was the go-getter, take-no-prisoners, climb that ladder fast kind of professional. I believed that success was only equal to the amount of sweat, hours and tears I was willing to sacrifice. I also believed that my sacrifice would be reciprocated in a time of need. And so began a valuable lesson. Six years into my career, my two-year-old son became very ill, and the year ended with surgery in November. Due to his illness, I had used my sick days by the time November rolled around and his surgery was scheduled. Certain that all of the long hours, evenings and weekends I had logged previously would offset a rocky year, I scheduled a meeting. I began by asking how I should manage the time I would miss when my son had surgery. Should I take the time off unpaid? Should I come in on Saturday to make up the hours? Could I borrow a vacation day from the following year? The answer surprised me, and taught me a valuable lesson. It turns out that 60 hour weeks did not equal one extra sick day during a tough year. As you can imagine, that was a game changer for me. Now, you may think the lesson I learned is to look out for number one. Good advice, I suppose, but not the greatest lesson I gleaned from that situation. The following year, I applied for a different position within the same company. And the first time I spoke to the hiring manager, I decided to try something new. I set boundaries. Very specific boundaries. It went something like this, “You should know that I have two children, and they are my first priority. You will get 110 percent from me in this job, but if my children are sick or need me, I won’t choose my job over them”. Bold? Yes. Daring? No doubt. Stupid? I held my breath and waited to find out. And then the hiring manager said something that shocked me. As he leaned closer, he asked me, “When can you start?” So the greatest lesson of my career is that it’s okay to set boundaries between your work and personal life. Everyone’s boundaries will differ, but you need to be honest, be specific, and resist the urge to cross those boundaries once they’re set. Being honest about what you require to be a balanced, productive and happy employee will lead to shared expectations and, ultimately, a healthier life.  ]]>