What comes first, work-life balance or confidence? When you ask a working mum that question, it’s no easier than the chicken or egg debate.
For many ambitious women, getting that balance right between work and life is much easier said than done.
The separation-integration continuum
According to Anna Meller, one of the UK’s leading experts on work-life balance (and a speaker at The Confident Mother online conference later this month), how you tackle your work-life balance comes down to individual preference and where you sit on the separation-integration continuum.
When I interviewed Anna just after Christmas, it was a fascinating opportunity to explore together how working practices and expectations have changed over the past 30 years.
How can you balance career and motherhood?
Often the women that I work with love their careers AND they love their family. They come to me because they are feeling off-kilter. They’re wondering how to balance career with motherhood.
Nobody wants to burn out trying to do everything but equally, you don’t to be overlooked or pushed to one side ‘just because’ you no longer want to work 70+ hour weeks. They might be forcing themselves to be an integrator when their true preference is separation. (More on this in the interview with Anna).
Work-life balance is the no 1 challenge
In my workplace challenge survey at the end of 2016, 75% of women said that work-life balance is their No 1 workplace challenge. The results themselves didn’t surprise me, but the strength of feeling did.
I help women approach this challenge by looking at it from a different perspective. The way I see it, there are five elements to take into account.
How you balance those elements is unique to each woman and will change at different stages in your life. It might even change on different days in the week! That’s the thing with work-life balance confidence – there is no ‘one size fits all’.
5 elements for work-life balance confidence
The 5 elements I’m talking about are:
- Contribution – the contribution that you make to the world. Some call this your purpose or calling. It’s about valuing and being valued for what’s unique and special about you.
- Wellness – it’s about taking care of your mental, physical and emotional wellness. Very often women take care of everybody else and don’t take care of themselves. However that elusive balance is impossible if you don’t take care of you too.
- Work – it’s about valuing and being valued for the work that you do. Whether that’s in your career, your business or indeed the work you do in the home.
- Family – obviously one is about family, your relationship with your children and with your partner, if you have one, or maybe the relationship with your parents.
- The Feminine – it’s about being a woman, and not just a mother. It’s about accepting, embracing and actually enjoying being a woman, and the challenges and opportunities that brings.
Get the foundations right first
Most women approach me because they want to focus on Work (whether that’s career or their own business). However you have to get the foundations right first. In other words, valuing yourself (Contribution) and taking care of yourself (Wellness).
When you have those solid foundations in place, you are ready to explore further (for example, how much energy you give to your career and your other roles such as mother, partner or daughter).
When you have the foundations in place, this gives you the confidence to create the work-life balance that works best for you.
Leave a comment below
I’d love your thoughts – which of these 5 elements (contribution, wellness, work, family and the feminine) is the one you need to focus on first to balance your work and life with confidence?