Post by Jane K. Stimmler, contributing Women On Business writer
Each day, most of us try to achieve the elusive ideal of work/life “balance.” Sometimes we wonder if it’s even possible. With all the 24/7 demands of business and family, if you don’t make balance a priority, it is unlikely you will get there. In Breaking Into the Boys’ Club 2009, we identify some traps women too often fall into when struggling to manage work, family and the rest of their lives. Whatever the particulars of your hectic life, here are some mistakes to avoid.
Feeling (Constantly) Guilty
When you’re at work, you find yourself feeling guilty about not being at home – and when you’re home, you’re obsessed with that meeting you’re missing. You cannot be in two (or three, or four) places at one time, and you need to give all your energy to your present undertaking. Let the guilt go – at least some of it!
Playing the Good Girl
So many of us have been taught to be considerate of others to a fault – even if it means saying yes when we should be saying no or waiting instead of speaking out. If you don’t express your needs and get your voice heard, after a while your frustration level will reach the “bubbling-over” point. It’s going to come out in the wrong place at the wrong time. Be confident enough to express yourself when you feel the need.
Second Guessing Your Life
Just because you’re having a bad day doesn’t mean that you’ve made poor choices, or should question your whole life. Sometimes when you’re in the midst of a crisis, you’re tempted to make decisions too quickly. At these times, it’s easy to start believing your neighbor’s propaganda about working mothers, or your sister’s criticism of your lifestyle. Don’t allow yourself to fall into that trap. Rely on your instincts to know what’s right for you.
Whether it’s appearance, performance on the job, running a household or running a marathon, many of us are always trying to be “perfect” at whatever we’re doing. The problem is – there’s no such thing! Nobody can be a “10”; it just doesn’t exist. Aiming for more realistic goals will keep you a lot happier and more productive.
When time or energy runs out, the first thing to “slip” is usually – you. Although it’s easier to cancel some of your activities (that hair appointment, time at the gym or your book club) than to disappoint the boss, family or friends, this won’t work on a long-term basis. If you don’t take enough time for you, you’ll begin to wear down and wear out. Make yourself the priority, and do what is necessary to look and feel
Saying “Yes” (When You Should Say “No”)
Your child’s teacher has asked you to chaperone a class trip. Or perhaps your boss requested that you fill in at a last minute client meeting. Maybe your friend has invited you to a mid-week birthday celebration. How can you say “no?” Or, rather, can you say “yes” and maintain your equilibrium? Developing realistic priorities and being honest about them with others is the key to staying on course.
Going It Alone
As a highly capable person, it’s natural to think “I can handle it myself.” After all, independence is a highly valued trait – and one which has gotten you far. But there are times when asking for help is both necessary and appropriate. In both your personal and business life, knowing when to ask for help can truly be a lifesaver when the “to do” list starts to become unmanageable.
Allowing Your Foundation to Crack
Though you have many facets to your life, at the core of it all is your family. Being clear about what’s essential, setting aside time for your most important relationships and developing boundaries to protect your family time are key elements to being happy. Without these, cracks will begin to surface in the foundation of your life and affect everything around you.
How many of these traps can you identify with? More importantly, can you change them?
Beth Ward says
Patty: These are spot-on… I can identify with every one of them. Thanks for sharing this quick refresher on the basics. Beth