For years, society has tried to assure ambitious young women that if they worked hard enough, they could juggle both a high demanding career and a family. Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO, says otherwise. Sandberg admitted that balancing both worlds is extremely difficult but a necessity if we wish to have more women leaders in the workforce.
What about other working women? What about you? Do you do everything for others before you do anything for yourself? InTraditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), those who care for others first are known as ‘Earth’ personalities. That’s right – we are givers! We are nurturers and caregivers, and we always provide support for others – at home and at work! But, we are also capable, creative, and resourceful; that is why we are so adept at multitasking and can outwork many of the men in our lives.
My suggestion is to get unstuck and then be unstoppable. You, as working women, can accomplish balance by focusing on these 7 areas:
What’s Important to You?
Identify three areas of your life that are most important; for me, the three include (1) health and well-being, (2) family, and (3) my non-profit and professional work. If health is a priority for you, take the time to achieve it. Eat well, be well, do well – begin an exercise program, if you have not already done so. My family is important to me, and when I am with family members, I give them my undivided attention. One of my passions is a not-for-profit organization that I founded; we educate nurse leaders in developing countries, and the work is personally and professionally fulfilling.
Know your Purpose.
“Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing it is not fish they are after” –
Henry David Thoreau
Life purpose is what gives meaning to our lives and a reason why we are here on earth. Each individual life has a natural reason for being. Think about what brings you the greatest joy in your life, and pursue it. Some questions you may ask yourself while getting in touch with your life purpose are: What gives your life meaning; what do you notice as the main themes in your life, and what is your contribution meant to be during your lifetime?
Set your Goals.
To be successful in our lives, we must set goals. A goal is a next step after discovering our purpose and what we want to achieve in the course of our lives. In order to be a goal, it must first be specific and measurable. It is not a goal if we cannot define it fully nor determine whether or not we achieved it.
Know your Limitations
We just do not know how to say ‘no.’ In B is for Balance, I talk about ‘no’ being a complete sentence, and it is okay to learn how to use the word to bring balance to our lives. If something does not fall within your priorities, it is okay to say the magic word, ‘no.’ You must avoid taking on more than you can possibly handle. Negotiate for workplace balance by knowing yourself and your limitations. “No” can be the best time management tool that you have!
How to Seek Help
Successful, balanced professionals are not afraid to ask for help. Everyone needs help from time to time, and reaching out is an admirable skill. Be acutely aware of the stressors in your schedule and in your life. Know thyself first! Manage yourself, and take advantage of counseling, coaches, professional peers, mentors and more.
Have the Right People in the Right Seats on the Bus
Having a lot of help is not enough if it isn’t the right help for the right job. Make a concerted effort to surround yourself with good people, and give them the latitude they need to do a good job. Hold them accountable, but give them autonomy to make decisions that will benefit the company, the office, the professional practice.
Table it for ‘Tomorrow.’
It is okay to think about a request or potential responsibility prior to saying ‘yes.’ Why not say,
“I’ll need to get back to you on that.” Then, consider the time, energy, and resources needed to fulfill the request, and if necessary, feel free to say, ‘Thanks so much for thinking of me; I am honored, but I must say no.” I was recently asked to be the President of a membership society to which I belong. As a new member, I was truly honored, and very surprised. Because I knew that I could not commit 100%, I simply said, “I am so honored; thank you for thinking of me. Please know that I will help in any way possible, but I cannot serve as your President at this time.”
Good employers recognize the value of good employees and are often willing to find or create ways to help employees deal with family situations by making short-term or permanent changes in work schedules. Options include flextime, job-sharing, telecommuting, and part-time employment. If you know your skills, abilities, and performance record are strong and valued, you have a solid footing for negotiating flexible work arrangements.
When your work life and personal life blend together under the guise of “multi-tasking,” both suffer. When you are at work, focus on the job to be done. When you are finished with work, don’t bring it home with you. Make time for your personal life and your personal health. Take time for you.
If your work materials are dispersed throughout nearly every room of your house, you have no place for a real retreat. You’re not spending high-quality time with friends or family members if you’re talking on your cell phone or checking your email when you’re with them. Take time to focus exclusively on your friends and family members when you’re with them; then you won’t feel guilty when you have to concentrate on work. Create high-quality work and personal experiences for yourself by keeping them separate. So, can YOU, as a working woman, maintain balance? Of course – you can! Follow these proven methods to attain and maintain the work/life balance that you, as a working woman, need and deserve.