I am a “Type A” mom of two feisty girls under five, working professional, ultimate Frisbee player, active non-profit board member of Girls on the Run Austin AND social coordinator for both colleagues and friends. Like many of you, I am overscheduled and seeking to find that mythical concept called Work-Life Balance.
I was seriously out of balance a few months ago; spread too thin, running from meeting to meeting, event to event and working in the evenings until midnight. It seemed like I was always double or triple booked. And because I was constantly thinking about the next item on my to-do list and/or what I should be accomplishing instead, I wasn’t focused or present. Then, two things happened that made me realize I needed to make a change.
1. Halloween night, I was tearing apart my house searching for the blue and white checkered hair bows for my daughter’s costume that I had planned for and purchased months ago. My 4-year-old daughter had to tell me that it wasn’t a big deal that I couldn’t find the accessories because everything was already perfect anyway and I should just take a deep breath and calm down because it just “wasn’t a big deal.” I had a realization at that moment: my preschool daughter has more perspective than I do.
2. I was diagnosed with hypertension that is more than likely due to a combination of stress and not making diet and health a priority for myself.
Then came the Texas Conference for Women. Smack dab between busy meetings and a day out for jury duty. I almost bailed on something for myself (again). The Texas Conference for Women is an annual conference that focuses on empowering women. What you get out of it, is equal to the energy you put into it. I realized that the only thing stopping me from attending was my own guilt. Why was I going to throw away an opportunity to focus on my professional and personal development for one day? It ended up being a truly rewarding and inspiring day that put me back on track. One of my favorite parts of the day was a workshop I participated in by Samantha Ettus, keynote speaker, radio talk show host and author of The Pie Life. Samantha is a Harvard Business School graduate who focuses on working with women to help them perform at the highest levels in their professional and personal lives. Here are some things that resonated with me from her workshop:
I probably won’t go changing my email signature. But the message here is to set healthy boundaries for work. I realized I already, sort of, do this. For the most part, from the moment I get home until the kids go to bed, I don’t engage or even think about work activity.
3. Minor changes can yield dramatic gains. American Airlines saved $40,000 by removing one olive from each salad tray in first class. Minor changes can yield dramatic gains. A few tips that Samantha suggested after years of research:
4. The best pies are gooey, sloppy, delicious imperfections. Though piece slices are interconnected, it is critical to see them individually. When you think about your pie, avoid the temptation to consider only the slices that aren’t going well. The beauty of the pie method is that you must contemplate each of your six or seven slices every time you start wallowing in one or two of your crummy ones.
I started off this blog by talking about how out of balance I was, but after the conference my perspective has changed a bit. I have so much to be grateful for! My work is challenging and rewarding and I enjoy my job, even on the toughest days. I’ve started back with yoga and also picked up golf. My husband and I regularly go on date nights and we play Frisbee together. I’ve reconnected with several old friends and made some new ones. I haven’t worked in the evenings (this blog, doesn’t count right?) in ages because I’ve been more focused and efficient with my time at work. The girls make me laugh every day. We restarted family weekend hikes (family time and exercise makes it a win-win!). I volunteered to mentor someone. I am reading again. I worry less about being perfect and more about being present. Perhaps, I wasn’t as imbalanced as I thought? I still have some things to work on, but now recognize that I am also doing a lot of things “right”. As Samantha Ettus might say, I was simply measuring it wrong and not taking the time to enjoy my delicious pie.
Nice blog Nina! Thanks for a great blog on thinking holistically about a well-balanced, successful, fulfilling life. You are certainly blessed. It is nice when we make the time to take a step back and gain that perspective.
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