Work-life balance. That ever-elusive goal we are all working towards achieving. We hear all the time at our women’s initiatives workshops how this obsessive pursuit can be exhausting, frustrating, and alienating. What we at Gild have come to realize is this: we are not alone. Successful women in workplaces everywhere struggle to find the right balance. We have to ask ourselves, does it even exist?
After all, there are only so many hours in the day. How do we give our career the dedication it deserves and still spend quality time with our loved ones? How do we juggle both work and home?
Why do women struggle to achieve work/life balance?
Studies have shown that working mothers are trapped in a cycle of guilt where they feel they are being bad mothers for going to work and bad workers when they put their children first. Somehow the message that “girls can do anything” got twisted into the edict: “girls must do everything,” and that can make anyone feel like they are being pulled in too many directions.
What if we changed our approach to work and life? What if, instead of balancing our work life and our home life, we brought our whole self to each day: at home, at the office, and everywhere else? People approach us and talk a lot about work-life integration at our women’s initiative workshops. There is a lot of terminology out there about this subject, but what it all boils down to is this: bring yourself, your whole self to each day and all that you do.
Traditionally, when we arrive at work, we leave something at the office door — and the same applies to getting home. We almost separate into two different personas — career and home. Being authentic to your whole self allows you to be a successful leader at home and in the workplace.
Ok, but what is wholeness?
Wholeness means understanding each of the elements that make you who you are and bringing that to your work — your passions and strengths, your hobbies and relationships, your partners and kids. You can be your true self without the pressure of hiding part of your persona during office hours.
Start with self-care.
Managing a career and a family takes energy. Manage your own energy like you would manage an important employee. Sleep is a necessary component and crucial for focus and delegation of tasks. Exercise also helps, and you can be creative about fitting it in. Who says you can’t exercise at 10 p.m? At least you know you will have the best parking spot at the gym!
Focus on connections.
Success is all about investing time in others. That may seem counterintuitive to a busy lifestyle, but we think it’s pretty important. Connecting with a support system and showing accountability opens plenty of doors of opportunity. You can simultaneously reduce your workload while giving other people the opportunity to be successful. Building relationships gives you the chance to ask for and receive support when you need it.
Commit to positive habits.
Be mindful of situations that can cause a negative reaction or thought. Negativity is a downward spiral that reduces any chance of productivity, contribution, or collaboration with your team. Ask yourself, “What is it that is driving these thoughts?” When you catch yourself harboring negative thoughts about yourself or others, replace them by repeating a positive word such as "acceptance." That's right —repeat it purposefully about yourself, others, and any situation. Forming a simple mindfulness practice each day allows you to be fully aware of yourself and slowly, over-time build a work-life environment that is authentically you.
You are deserving of success at home and at work. You are also capable of doing so in a happy and stress-free manner. Remove the guilt and be authentically you: A successful women who integrates work and life beyond maintaining a basic balance. You will discover that once you are able to remove negative stressors and bring all of you to the office you are likely to create greater success and be more fulfilled. You might just also impact the people around you and, in return, do your best work together.
For tips on how to kickstart your day and make the most of your mornings read, “Morning Habits of a Successful Women.”