In my last blog post, I explored Executive Motherhood and shared specific examples of how to create time for yourself.
It’s no news that we all juggle the daily demands of our personal and work lives, but women, in particular, describe feeling pressured and stressed all the time. In all my years of coaching, I can count how many times I heard a woman say she’s “relaxed” or “refreshed”.
In the wake of South Africa’s celebration of Women’s month in August, I really pondered on this issue of women not bringing their best selves to their work.
How can a human genuinely play ten, twelve and even fifteen multiple roles without dropping any balls? What is the true cost of balancing it all?
The answer lies in creating time to refresh and make time for yourself. As critical as this is, it doesn’t always feel possible but there are things you can do. Here are 4 tips:
1. Play to your Strengths
Many women often feel they need to do everything themselves but you really don’t. Mrs Ibukun Awosika, a well-respected entrepreneur, C-Suite executive and one of the founders of WIMBIZ, said in a meeting some years ago, “play to your strengths and outsource your weaknesses”.
As a coach, I find myself saying this to a lot of my coachees who are working women. Instead of spending all your time trying to turn your weaknesses into strengths, focus on building and developing your strengths instead and get somebody who is better at addressing that area of weakness better than you can.
I’m not a person who particularly loves the details and nitty gritty of things. My work requires some level of detail and I will therefore apply myself as needed, but it is not my core strength; I am more of a strategic thinker. In the course of my work, I have however surrounded myself with those who are great at reading and digesting the ‘operating manual’ of things.
When you focus on what you’re good at, you save up on time that you can invest elsewhere, whether it’s building quality time with your loved ones or delivering quality work.
2. Stop feeling guilty
This one deserves a public service announcement. Women, professional women, working women, please stop feeling guilty!
You will always find reasons to feel guilty because you cannot do it all. You will always drop one or two balls but you can come to terms with that. You can accept your limitations and prioritize.
We are all limited by time and resources. No matter how many expectations people have of you, you only have 24 hours to do the best that you can. So, stop feeling guilty!
Decide what is important for both your professional and your personal life, be grateful for the little that you have and the little that you are able to do instead of feeling guilty and inadequate.
3. Prioritize Work-Life IntegrationWork-life balance is hard to achieve because experience has taught me that the scales hardly ever achieve a perfect balance. I’m therefore a firm believer in ‘work-life integration’, which is more about incorporating the different areas of one’s life to create a whole picture. It’s the blending together of all parts of our lives whilst working towards building a more meaningful and greater quality of life.
Work will never end, but you can prioritize. You can eliminate time wasters and build quality time around the important things including family and friends.
How do you integrate work and family? By creating support systems
Due to the nature of my work, I’ve always been a frequent traveller and I remember when my kids were younger, it was important to have my mum or my mother-in-law come over and stay with them whenever I travelled. My mothers were always really glad to do this but there were few times of travel when they couldn’t be around and my husband and I had to adjust our schedules to ensure we were not away at the same time.
On my part, I invested in those relationships, went the extra mile to show how much I cared and carried them along our journey and progress in life, so they felt invested in our family. They understand our values, our vision and were happy to support my family. The importance of support systems cannot be over-emphasized.
4. RefocusTake a long-term view when you look at your business or career. Take stock of your work, the direction you’re going and re-align it with a long-term strategy. To do this, you need to honestly look at your current situation and decide if it’s leading you where you want to go. How does your current job prepare you for the dreams in your heart? How would it serve you in the long term? The chores you choose to take up, what will they do for you? The skills you’re learning now, are they of any benefit to your professional goals, or are they just “cool” to have?
Counterintuitive as it sounds, refocusing on the future aligns your present reality and allows you to be centred and fully present, living a happy and productive life.
There is no limit to what you can have as a woman. You can have it all but maybe not today, at least not until you put a few of these things in place, and start to practice them.
As for today, know that you deserve to give yourself a break, you deserve to know that you are already a superpower, you are already a super woman. So be that woman, be you, make yourself proud, stay authentic, keep your focus and take active steps towards activating and becoming the best version of you.