When asked recently my views on achieving Work/Life Balance, my response was that it is a little like trying to hit a moving target. You can see it somewhere off in the distance and you might even get close to it, but just as you’re about to hit a bulls-eye, the target jumps two feet to the left. Women can have it all, just not at the same time. Do you ever hear men pondering whether they can have it all or if they messed up their kid’s lives by returning to work so soon? If you want to focus on your career, it may have to be after the kids are in school full time. If you opt to spend more time with family, as was my choice, there is a high chance your career momentum might slow down. You may have to make some sacrifices, but that doesn’t mean your career is over.
Don’t make the mistakes I made like comparing myself to other women or being too rigid with my own standards. The key to achieving this balance is finding what works for you and being flexible when the road gets bumpy.
1. Communicate your vision. This might involve you and your spouse talking once a month about how things are going. Write down your goals and set checkpoints to see if you are meeting them. They might be too high and you may need to purge some things from your list. Or they may be too low and you realize that now’s the time to up your game. The key is to not lapse into complacency and lose control of the direction your life is heading in.
2. Stay true to your goals. If your career is derailed for any reason, this doesn’t have to be fatal and final. Even if you’re not working, there are things you can do to stay marketable.
- Take an online course or get a designation
- Join an association
3. Rely on your network. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when things get hard. There will be days when you have to take off your superhero cape and admit to yourself that you need a break. Your family is always the first and best choice but if, like me, you don’t have family close by, there are other networks you can join based on like interests and experiences. Connect to someone who knows what you’re going through. A little empathy goes a long way.
- Take the kids to a playgroup or set up play-dates.
- Take a class (Cooking and Krav Maga are on my list)
- Join a support group
- Join a church
4. Find a mentor. I’ve been blessed to have amazing women come to me when they saw weaknesses in my life. I have two women who have helped me in my marriage, and another who has helped me in my career. Sometimes they hit straight-from-the-hip when I was being a jerk, other times they were a shoulder to cry on. Most times, they were just funny, amazing women that became some of my closest friends.
5. Be a mentor. Pay it forward and help another woman through her struggles. You’d be surprised how much this will help you and cause you to forget your own problems, even temporarily.
I’m still far from achieving this balance and still don’t have this elusive “all” we are trying to get, but as I chase this moving target, I will enjoy all that my life offers right now, and that is actually quite wonderful.