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13 Ways Successful Women Strike A Balance Between Work And Family

13 Ways Successful Women Strike A Balance Between Work And Family

Today’s modern working woman often has an array of many hats that she has to wear on any given day and in any given moment.

Hats can include but are not limited to… mom, chauffeur, chef, coach, wife, sister, moderator, negotiator, colleague, boss and many, many more.

Over the last 15 years in my work as an executive coach, I have had the joy of working with all sorts of amazing and successful women from around the globe. Their struggles are variations on a theme, as they try to find greater balance between the different facets of their lives while doing their best to express their genius and talents through their career and family.

As women, we’re great caretakers and will put the needs and priorities of others first but over time this only leads to failure.

What I’ve consistently seen is that most women think “I just can’t have it all.” They’re resigned to the thinking that somewhere in their busy days something has to give and most times they’re the one left holding the short stick. Often overlooking their own health and well-being in order to take care of all the competing priorities of their career and family.

So how can you actually “have your cake and eat it too?”

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Instead of trying to slice up your time fifteen ways to Sunday to fit in everything in, you have to first start with your own mindset – that your health and well-being matters. And then put into practice some new habits that will regularly fill you up so you can better serve those around you.

Here are 13 secrets of successful working women from around the world to help you adjust your thinking, and positively shift your priorities to make time for the life you’ve been dreaming of living. A life where there is a balance between a thriving career and a happy home life.

1. Set Your Compass

compass

    In other words, get clear on your core values and purpose. Your values and purpose are your internal compass for how to best utilize the natural gifts, talents and genius that you uniquely have to express in the world through your work. When you can walk your path and remain true to your values and gifts, it naturally reduces the amount of stress you experience as you honor yourself and your spirit in all that you think, say, and do in each day.

    2. Manage Your Own Health First

    If you’re energy is low and you don’t have the umph to take care of the other important people and things in your life, then everybody loses.

    Be sure to eat healthy foods that feed your body with good nutrition, and make time for some kind of regular exercise so you can work out the stresses of everyday life. If you don’t, these stressors can build up in your system and lead to a variety of health issues both mental and physical, so dodge the bullet by being proactive in taking good care of yourself. Your loved ones will thank you!

    3. Communicate Your Wants And Needs Clearly

    As much as we would like to think that our significant others can read our minds, they (mostly) can’t. Instead of having to make them guess and be disappointed when they don’t figure out exactly what you want, ask for what you need. Practice having open, honest and heartfelt conversations with your loved ones so all involved feel seen, heard and respected. They will appreciate it and you’ll avoid the mistake of assumptions gone awry.

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    4. Fill Your Own Cup

    Fill Your Own Cup

      Be sure to take time out for things that rejuvenate your spirit. Things like meditation, prayer, getting a fabulous massage or a mani-pedi, doing yoga, or taking a walk during your lunch break are all great ways to de-stress and fill your cup back up with goodness. Find a few ways that work for you and practice them regularly. It will calm your mind and ease your spirit.

      5. Giving And Receiving 100%

      It’s often said that being in a relationship is a give and take. That you each give 50% to the whole of the relationship to make it “work” at 100% – right? But the real key is to give 100% of yourself, your attention and your time in the moment, to your loved ones while asking them to give 100% of themselves to the relationship as well.

      In other words, when you’re with your significant other (or with a colleague for that matter), be there fully in the moment with them as best you can. When you give your all, they can feel it. And as human beings, when we feel seen and heard fully, our hearts open and it creates a stronger connection with another. This helps to build trust and collaboration which goes a long way towards reducing misunderstandings.

      6. Be Clear On Your Priorities

      What is the most important thing in your life above all else? What is the second most important thing in your life? The third thing that is most important in your life? When you’re clear on what needs to be prioritized first, then it’s less stressful to make choices and decisions based on your priorities as you honor your values, heart and spirit.

      7. Get Your Zzzzz

      Getting enough sleep is super important! It’s the time when your body can process through the stress of the day and rejuvenates your cells. Studies have shown that a lack of sleep can create a multitude of negative affects such as loss of attention span and productivity, forgetfulness, depression, weight gain, premature aging of your skin, and health risks such as high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes, just to name a few.

      If stress has you worrying and keeping you up at night, try various mindfulness meditations before you go to bed to slow down your system and calm your mind for a restful night’s sleep. Your body will thank you and so will everyone else around you.

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      8. Know Your Boundaries

      What are you willing and not willing to do for your work? Where do you draw the line between work time and family time? When does your work-day begin and end? When is your sacred time with family and loved ones? If need be, put it on your calendar and color code it.

      The more you practice honoring these boundaries, the more you’re honoring your core values. You’re also establishing separate neural pathways in your brain for those different areas of your life. As you do this, it becomes easier to “code switch” or change gears in your mindset to leave work at work and be fully present with friends and family.

      9. Be Mindful Of Your Energy Drains

      Are there some ‘Negative Nellies’ or ‘Hateful Harolds’ in your life? You know those folks who are always trying to pull you down into their latest drama, “woe is me” story or other negative mindsets that drains your time, energy and focus?

      Notice the people and situations that are sucking you dry of your positive life force. Limit your interactions with those kinds of people or eliminate them all together if you can. The less you collude with their story, or buy into it, the less they have something to attach to and will eventually take their story elsewhere.

      10. Schedule Regular Play Dates

      Schedule Play Dates

        Just as much as your kids need play dates with their friends, so do you with your significant other and girl friends. Taking time out to let your hair down and be your “adult” self instead of Mom, or boss, or colleague creates downtime for your hard working brain to just have fun, be silly and do what floats your boat with friends and loved ones.

        11. Dance With Your Inner Muse

        We all have some kind of creativity that comes through us. It can look a thousand different ways such as painting, writing, gardening, cooking, knitting, and dancing just to name a few. When you take time to express your inner muse, it allows your right brain to light up and activates various pleasure centers in your brain. This releases a cascade of happy chemicals such as dopamine and serotonin which leaves you feeling good and creates a positive ripple effect into other areas of your life.

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        12. Ask For Help

        As a recovering “I can do it all by myself” kinda woman, it’s taken me a long time to learn how to ask for help from others. Truth is, when you’re plate is full, there is no way that you can do it all by yourself! When you’re willing to ask for help from those around you for various things you give them the opportunity to be of contribution to you in some way.

        All of us want to be of service in good ways – it’s hard wired into our DNA. When you allow someone to share their expertise or assistance with you, it’s the same as receiving a gift from them. They feel good about giving it and you get to practice graciously receiving their gift of kindness.

        13. Let Go Of The Small Stuff

        dandelion close up

          In each day there are bound to be issues and challenges that come up which can easily drag you down the rabbit hole of stress, worry, fear or frustration. When you’re clear on what your core values and purpose are, then it’s easier to choose your battles based on what’s truly important, what’s going to move you forward in a good way and serve the greater good.

          When you are able to let go of the small stuff you build up your energy reserves for more important things that need your time and attention.

          As you try on these different keys to having more balance, let me know what works best for you and the positive shifts you’re noticing in your work and home life. I’d love to hear!

          Featured photo credit: Morgan Sessions via download.unsplash.com

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          Last Updated on December 3, 2019

          7 Powerful Steps to Achieve Career Success

          7 Powerful Steps to Achieve Career Success

          I often hear people say, “I want to be successful but don’t know where to start” or “I’ve achieved career success yet I’m not happy.” And then I ask, “what does career success mean to you?” And many have a hard time articulating their response with much conviction.

          It’s common that people lack clarity, focus, and direction. And when you layer on thoughts and actions that are misaligned with your values, this only adds to your misdirected quest to achieve your career success.

          A word of caution. It’s going to take some time for you to think about and work on your own path for career success. You need to set aside time and be intentional about the steps you take to achieve career success. In my opinion, this step-by-step guide is apart of your life philosophy.

          1. Define Career Success for Yourself

          Pause. Give yourself time and space for self-reflection.

          What does career success mean to you?

          This is about defining your career success:

          • Not what you think you ‘should’ do
          • Not what people may think of you
          • Not adjusting to friends and family’s judgements
          • Not taking actions based on societal or community norms

          “A flower does not think of competing to the flower next to it. It just blooms” – Zen Shin

          When you strip away all your external influences and manage your inner critic, what are you left with? You need to define career success that best suits your life situation.

          There’s no fixed answer. Everyone is different. Your answer will evolve and be impacted by life events. Here are a few examples of career success:

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          • Work-life balance
          • Opportunities for growth and advancement
          • Feeling valued that my contributions had an impact

          Now even as you reflect on the examples above, the descriptions are not specific enough. You’ve got to take it deeper:

          • What do you mean by work-life balance?
          • What do you consider to be opportunities for growth and advancement?
          • How do you like to be recognized for your work? How do you know if your contributions have had an impact?

          Let’s take a look at some potential responses to the questions above:

          • I want more time with my family, and less stress at work
          • I want increased responsibilities, to manage a team, a higher income, and the prestige of working at a certain level in the company
          • I’d like my immediate leader to send me a thank-you note or take me out for coffee to genuinely express her or his gratitude. I’ll know I’ve made an impact if I get feedback from my coworkers, leaders and other stakeholders.

          Further questions to reflect on to help narrow the focus for the above responses:

          • What are some opportunities that can help you get traction on getting more time with your family? And decrease your stress at work?
          • What’s most important for you in the next 12 months?
          • What’s the significance of receiving others’ feedback?

          Now, I’m only scratching the surface with these examples. It takes time to do the inner work and build a solid foundation.

          Start this exercise by first asking what career success means to you and then ask yourself meaningful questions to help you dig deeper.

          What types of themes emerge from your responses? What keywords or phrases keep coming up for you?

          2. Know Your Values

          Values are the principles and beliefs that guide your decisions, behaviors and actions. When you’re not aligned with your values and act in a way that conflicts with your beliefs, it’ll feel like life is a struggle.

          There are simple value exercises that can help you quickly determine your core values. This one designed by Carnegie Mellon University can help you discover your top 5 values.[1]

          Once you have your top 5 values keep them visible. Your brain needs reminders that these are your top values. Here are some ways to make them stick:

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          • Write them on cue cards or notes and post it in your office
          • Take a picture of your values and use it as a screensaver on your phone
          • Put the words on your fridge
          • Add the words on your vision board

          Where will your value words be placed in your physical environment so that you have a constant reminder of them?

          3. Define Your Short-Term and Long-Term Goals

          When writing your short-term and long term life goals, use the SMART framework – Specific Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Treat this as a brainstorming exercise. Your potential and possibilities are limitless.

          How you define short-term and long-term is entirely up to you. Short-term can be 30 days, 90 days, or 6 months. Maybe long-term goals are 4 months, 1 year, or 10 years.

          Here are a few self-reflection questions to help you write your goals:[2]

          • What would you want to do today if you had the power to make it the way you want?
          • If no hurdles are in the way, what would you like to achieve?
          • If you have the freedom to do whatever you want, what would it be?
          • What type of impact do you want to have on people?
          • Who are the people you most admire? What is it about them or what they have that you’d want for your life or career?
          • What activities energize you? What’s one activity you most love?

          Remember to revisit your core values as you refine yours goals:

          • Are your goals in or out of alignment with your core values?
          • What adjustments do you need to make to your goals? Maybe some of your goals can be deleted because they no longer align with your values.
          • How attainable are your goals? Breakdown your goals into digestible pieces.
          • Do your short-term goals move you towards attaining your long-term goals?

          Get very clear and specific about your goals. Think about an archer – a person who shoots with a bow and arrows at a target. This person is laser focused on the target – the center of the bullseye. The target is your goal.

          By focusing on one goal at a time and having that goal visible, you can behave and act in ways that will move you closer to your goal.

          4. Determine Your Top Talents

          What did you love doing as a kid? What made these moments fun? What did you have a knack for? What did you most cherish about these times? What are the common themes?

          What work feels effortless? What work do you do that doesn’t seem like work? Think about work you can lose track of time doing and you don’t even feel tired of it.[3]

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          What are your desires? Try it out. Experiment. Take action and start. How can you incorporate more of this type of work into your daily life?

          What themes emerge from your responses? How do your responses compare to your responses from the values exercise and your goals?

          What do you notice?

          5. Identify ‘Feeling’ Words You Want to Experience

          Do you have tendencies to use your head or heart to make decisions?

          I have a very strong tendency to make rational, practical, and fact-based decisions using my head. It’s very rare for me to make decisions using my emotions. I was forced to learn how to make more intuitive decisions by listening to my gut when I was struggling with pivotal life decisions. I was forced to feel and listen to my inner voice to make decisions that feel most natural to me. This was very unfamiliar to me, however, it expanded my identity.

          Review this list of Feeling Words. Use the same technique you use for the values exercise to narrow down how you want to feel.

          Keep these words visible too!

          Review your responses. What do you observe? What insights do you gain from these responses and those in the above steps?

          6. Be Willing to Sit with Discomfort

          Make career decisions aligned with your values, goals, talents and feelings. This is not for the faint hearted. It takes real work, courage and willingness to cut out the noise around you. You’ll need to sit with discomfort for a bit until you build up your muscle to hit the targets you want.

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          Surround yourself with a supportive network to help you through these times.

          “These pains you feel are messengers. Listen to them” – Rumi

          7. Manage Your Own Career

          Not to be cynical, but no one can make you happy but yourself. If you don’t take control of your career and manage it like your own business – no one will.

          Discern between things that you can control and what you can’t control. For example, you may not be able to control who gets a promotion. However, you can control how you react to it and what you’ve learned about yourself in that situation.

          Summing Up

          For many who have gone through a career change or been impacted by life events, these steps may seem very basic. However, it’s sometimes the basics that we forget to do. The simple things and moments can edge us closer to our larger vision for ourselves.

          Staying present and appreciating what you have today can sometimes help you achieve your long-term goals. For example, if you’re always talking about not having enough time and wanting work-life balance, think about what was good in your work day? Maybe you took a walk outside with your co-workers. This could be a small step to help you reframe how you can attain work-life balance.

          Remember to take time for yourself. Hit pause, notice, observe and reflect to achieve career success by getting deliberate and intentional:

          1. Define Career Success for Yourself
          2. Know Your Values
          3. Define Your Short-Term and Long-Term Life and Goals
          4. Determine Your Top Talents
          5. Identify ‘Feeling’ Words You Want to Experience
          6. Be Willing to sit with Discomfort
          7. Manage Your Own Career

          “When you stop chasing the wrong things you give the right things a chance to catch you.” – Lolly Daskal

          Good luck and best wishes always!

          More Tips on Advancing Your Career

          Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

          Reference

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