See what you missed: MINN Roundtable on Work-Life Balance on March 1


By Julie Warner

Twelve participants came together on March 1, 2013, to discuss how to effectively balance work and life in the context of doing international work.  The lunchtime seminar was led by Ms. Bistra Zheleva, Vice President of International Programs, Children’s Heartlink, and held at the Hennepin County Library in St. Louis Park.  Bistra initiated a lively hour-long discussion by asking why we do international work.  Responses generally included an opportunity to apply skills and knowledge to global challenges in hopes of making a difference; and a desire to gain global perspective that comes from knowing people from other countries and learning about their culture, politics, language, history, and food.

While some of us are employed in jobs that include international travel, others seek global exposure outside of work through a wide variety of volunteer and consulting opportunities.  However, the common factor is that we are clearly passionate about our world.

But how does this impact our personal lives?  We have spouses, partners, children, extended family and friends who are important to us.  How can we best pursue our passion for the work and still maintain a healthy balance? 

So, while the passion was evident, Bistra asked what are some of the external factors and personal perspectives necessary to achieve balance?  External factors include enlightened employers who offer flextime allowing us the creative autonomy to complete our work in ways that accommodate personal commitments.  Spouses and partners willing to step up to help make the upcoming international trip easier on everyone.  Social media that, while we are away, offers “the next best thing to being there.”  Additionally, our own personal perspectives guide each of us.  Ask for help when needed and resist feeling guilty about it.  Pay attention to your own wellbeing, as this will also have a positive impact on those around you.  Try to maintain regular exercise as it helps physically, psychologically, and spiritually, and increases productivity.