Is work-life balance a myth? How to be ambitious without burning out

Dec 1, 2022

You’ve worked hard to get where you are and have already achieved a lot of career success. You want to continue to invest time and energy into growing your career — but balance this with priorities outside work.

So how can you have big career ambitions without sacrificing your work-life balance? Is it even possible?

And what IS work-life balance anyway — is it a myth?

These are a few of the questions which came up in a recent interview about finding work-life balance. It’s a topic which shows up all the time in my work helping high-achievers create a career and life on their terms. So, I thought I’d share more on this subject.

Here’s my take on this elusive work-life balance we all seem to be chasing…

I believe there’s no such thing as finding a ‘perfect’ work-life balance. Because perfection doesn’t exist!

There’s always going to be an ‘imperfect equilibrium’ where your ideal balance isn’t possible 100% of the time. But there are steps you can take to design a career (and life) which works for you.

Here are 4 simple strategies to help you achieve better balance and your big career ambitions.


In my coaching work, I help high-achievers redefine what success looks like to them. Then, show them how to create their careers around this.

Ask yourself: What does success look like to me? What do I want my career and life to feel like?

As part of this, get clear on what work-life balance means to you. Be specific. Is it having the flexibility to work from home on certain days each week?

Do you want to start earlier — or later? Is doing school pick-ups important? Or logging off at 6pm?

When you define what success looks like to you, you will start to cultivate a better balance.


It’s also essential to understand your career ambitions, including what you’re working towards and why. Knowing this helps you prioritise your time, tasks and commitments.

What are your career goals? It could be a pay rise, promotion, developing a new skill, moving into leadership or changing careers.

Why do you want this? This is more emotional and linked to your purpose, values and the impact you want to make through your work. When you’re connected to your ‘why’, it’s easier to stay motivated to reach your goals — even when life gets busy.

When determining your career goals, don’t forget to consider your current life stage. This will impact what career ambitions are realistic and the lifestyle balance you need in this season.

Because when you are clear on your priorities, you will reach your goals and grow your career in a more sustainable way.


Once upon a time before email existed, you could leave your work behind at 5pm each evening — or until Monday. These days, it’s easy to look at your device as soon as you wake up or right before you fall asleep. I’m certainly guilty of this!

Implementing boundaries is the key to unlocking better balance between your work and life. You may immediately think about the boundaries you need to establish with others: your boss, clients or family. But first, you must create boundaries with yourself.

Self-management is critical. This means honouring your own priorities. If you want to finish work at 6pm each day, make this commitment to yourself!

When you establish strong boundaries, you will create better balance between your work and life.


It’s easy to get caught up in the busyness of your daily tasks or to-do list — at the expense of your long-term career goals. In fact, the constant pressure to balance the two can create stress, overwhelm or burnout for many high-performers.

I’m a fan of breaking down your big, intangible goals into specific tasks, or micro steps. Then, carving out small chunks of time on a daily, weekly or monthly basis to take action towards your long-term ambitions.

A simple tip is to complete your number one priority task each morning before moving on to anything else. Make this your next, best step related to your most important projects or long-term goals.

Here’s the bottom line. When you carve out small chunks of time, consistently, to work on your long-term ambitions… you will achieve your big career goals, with less stress!

These tips have helped my clients and I create a career (and life) on our terms. All so we can accomplish our big career ambitions and grow our careers in a sustainable way. I hope they support you too!

Want to create better balance and build your career in a more sustainable way?

Listen to this FREE audio training and in 15 minutes, I’ll give you all the tools and strategies you need to get started! Get instant access.

Stacey Back is a Career Strategist, Leadership Coach + Founder of Profile Careers. She helps high-achievers at a career crossroads find the work that lights them up, increase their income, impact and create a career + life on their terms. Stacey works virtually with individuals and organisations based across the globe.