Balance is a Mindset
If you want to achieve the right balance between your life and career, you have to know what “balance” really means to you and you have to believe that it is possible, regardless of the hours you work and the job you do.
In this extract from the book, Baby Proof Your Career: The Secret To Balancing Work and Family So You Can Enjoy It All(adapted for this blog), I talk about the importance of mindset to having it all. You could just as easily substitute the words “having it all” for the words “achieving balance”. For me they are one and the same thing.
Your Secret Weapon
Women who are successfully balancing a career and a family have a secret weapon: they believe. They believe it can be done, and they believe they are the ones who can do it. It doesn’t make them immune to guilt or overwhelm or any of the other Five Pitfalls of Working Parenthood. It simply means that when they meet a pitfall, they believe they can get past it. This belief is the most powerful resource they have.
Don’t tell yourself you can’t have it all
In the quest to achieve balance, your attitude and mindset are crucial. They are responsible for the thoughts in your head that determine how you feel and what you do. Tell yourself you can’t have it all, and guess what? Your chances of doing so are slim to nonexistent. You’ll be so busy proving yourself right you won’t even scrape the surface of the resources at your disposal to overcome challenges and seize the opportunities to get you there.
It’s time to put your doubts to rest
Most people are resistant to the idea that they have the power to direct their lives and influence the course of events. It’s so much easier to agree with those who say it can’t be done, look around at circumstances you can’t control that seem to be preventing you from getting what you want and tell yourself it wasn’t meant to be. If you’ve picked up this book the chances are you’ll be battling with this very issue. You want to believe, but you have doubts. They may seem like reasonable doubts to have, but they are doubts that will hold you back every step of the way. It’s time to put those doubts to rest.
A lost role model
British investment fund manager and mother Nicola Horlick was the original superwoman when I was growing up. My earliest impressions of career mothers juggling and having it all revolved around her. I always considered her a great role model for those, like me, who refused to accept that you couldn’t be a successful career woman and have a family. So imagine my disappointment when I discovered last year that her message to career women was that you can’t have it all.
Not believing is a choice
If you want to make a case for the fact that women can’t have it all there’s plenty of supporting material. Organisations are still predominately governed by rules that leave no room for a woman to advance when she takes time out or requires any flexibility to her schedule as a result of having a baby. There’s the extortionate cost of childcare and the prevalent stereotypes that assume a woman’s place when she has children is in the home. Looking at these odds, you’d have every reason to choose not to believe.
A question of attitude
And yet, apparently, some people do believe. I asked the question of women I knew. Here are the words of some of the women who said yes:
“Can women have it all? Yes, as long as women recognise that having it all is different for everyone. Set your own benchmarks and be realistic about what ‘having it all’ means to you. Having it all may mean a wonderful home life and a happy family or it may mean a high flying career with a massive salary. It may mean a mixture of both, but being content with what you have is to me what having it all is all about.” Caroline Deutsch, expert recruitment consultant, Select, St. Albans.
“I think women can have it all but we have to carefully define what our own priorities are and go after those. It’s easy for others to push us to achieve what they see as success: be a size 6, make your house look like a Pinterest board, make all your food from scratch (and it better be organic!). However, you, as your own woman have to define what ‘it all’ is to you and go after it while shaking off what everyone else tells you you should be doing. Our time is limited, no matter how much we want to believe it isn’t!” Meghan Fay, Owner, Extraordinary Days Events.
“Some jobs allow women to be really flexible with their working day making it much easier to have both a successful career and children. My mother was a financial adviser and so effectively self-employed. This allowed her to work from home when me, my brother and sister were young whilst still managing a successful career. She tells us stories of how she would have client meetings at our house and had it down to a T in feeding us and putting us down for a nap just as the client was arriving, and then us waking up just as the meeting was coming to an end.” Nina Lake, Solicitor, Clyde & Co.
Create your own expectations of the world
These testimonies show that having it all is not an objective standard, but a highly subjective set of expectations about how the world works and your place in it. There’s no such thing as a ‘one size fits all’ interpretation of what it means to have it all. One woman’s ‘all’ might just as easily be another woman’s nightmare. The only things that matter are how you feel about who you are, where your life is and how many blessings you can count at the end of the day.
I can’t tell you what your all is because it’s yours, something you need to work out for yourself. All I can do is share with you my personal vision of having it all in the hope that it will help you find yours.
• Waking up each morning feeling excited and happy about the gift of a new day, even on days when work is hard
• Sharing my life with people I love and who love me
• Feeling in control of my life and knowing that when something’s not working there is always something I can do to change it
• Falling asleep at night filled with gratitude for the blessings in my life.
This is what having it all means to me. It doesn’t have to make sense to you other than to demonstrate that, more than a fixed set of circumstances – a place on the board, two wonderful children and a perfect husband – having it all is really just a mindset and a feeling.