Are you tired of hearing about “Work/Life Balance”? If so, you are not alone.
A few weeks ago, a request came in to me for this very session to be delivered at an upcoming Women’s Leadership conference. My colleague Erin McKown and I cringed as we discussed the topic. We felt it has become so old, so jaded…and frankly a mere gloss over the complexity of what women truly seek and often find elusive.
How is balance even defined these days? Is it when we find ourselves in a state of flow? When we feel content in all aspects of our lives? Or when we actually manage to pull off juggling sleep, work, family and personal time seamlessly?
As Erin and I explored the question “What conversation do WE want to have with women leaders at a women’s conference?” we came up with three categories.
First, as working mothers with young children, our thoughts naturally gravitated to:
- the realities of parenting, while working, while also growing our careers
- how crushingly hard parenting can be, and the internal and external pressures women face to work like they are not parents and parent like they don’t work
- the multitude of roles women play as caregivers and the impact on their lives
Next, we dived into the environmental and external factors critical to success:
- the tightrope women walk in the workplace to climb the ladder
- What work environments women should seek out, or fight to create, in order to have their best opportunities for life and career success
- how critical it is to have a support team to build you up, cheer you on and carry you as needed in work and home
- How to resource up so you can do work or home successfully
Ultimately however, we determined the most important conversation we want to have with women leaders for work and life success is:
- The importance of knowing your worth in all arenas and not letting anyone compromise it
- How having clear boundaries and sticking to them is key
- How necessary transforming your self-dialogue is so you can break free from old negative thought patterns
- How asking for help when needed is brave and strong
- How forgiving yourself for your mistakes is necessary to start anew
- Acknowledging that life’s challenges offer opportunities for growth
- Granting yourself and others grace daily to enjoy more personal freedom and mental clarity
- That it is ok to go for the goal, even when we are not certain we will make it. Take the shot. We’ve only got one life and not to waste it in indecision
- That all women are fully deserving of a wonderful life of your own design. It begins with imagination, oftentimes grit and always action
- How incredibly powerful being a disruptor in your life is because “if you always do what you’ve always done, you will always get what you’ve always gotten”. (unknown)
- To recognize when you run into other people’s limiting beliefs and not take them on as your own
Too often the “work/life balance” discussion burdens us with more pressure and self-blame of all the shoulds and woulds we need to do to become…(fill in the blank).
It is time to foster deeper dialogues that allow women to invest wholly in themselves, free from guilt or shame. To grasp the factors that can hinder our progress and realize the vast possibilities when we lean into our aspirations.
Sometimes in life when something won’t balance it’s pointing to a much deeper issue. And that issue may not be you, but rather the system in which you are trying to operate in.
Let’s start with the question “Do you like how you are living your life today?” and go from there.