Curious about the statue, I have since learned that Telesphoros, the hooded dwarf figure is the son of Asclepios (or Asklepios). He symbolises recovery from illness. According to Wikipedia, Asclepius represents the healing aspect of the medical arts.
My reason for visiting the Royal College of Physicians on a wet Monday (it was tipping it down!) was to deliver my workshop How to confidently balance work and life even if you are a parent as part of RCP’s wellbeing week. An appropriate topic given that The Confident Mother 2017 online conference was all about how to confidently balancing work and life.
7 simple concepts for work-life balance
The parents who attended loved my 7 simple concepts designed to help your work-life balance. I thought you would love these too.
Knowing your zebra is understanding what is unique about you and what you contribute to the world. If you think “I’m a marketing manager like any other marketing manager” or “There are 100s of HR specialists, just like me“, you are not valuing the unique combination of skills, talents, strengths and experience that only you can contribute to your organisation.
When we think of zebras we know they have black and white stripes. But look closer, much closer, and in fact every zebra’s stripes are unique. Just like you.
Why do you go to work? Is it about intellectual stimulation so that you retain your sense of self? Is it to earn enough to pay for holidays abroad? Is it to maintain your position on the career ladder for future prospects? Is it essential for the roof over your head?
When your work-life balance feels overwhelming, remind yourself why you work and who benefits from you working.
The second piece is to get clear on what is most important to you about being a mum? Is it the home-baked birthday cake? Is it being at the school gates at the end of the day? Is it about being a role model for your children? Is it something else?
Your why is also about understanding your values (a topic I discuss in the interview with Sue Revell). When you are clear on your why, you can acknowledge when you feel ‘out of balance’. Then do something about it or simply accept it, perhaps it’s a compromise you are willing to make.
As mums, as women, we are often forget to look after our own wellness and self-care. For me, your wellness is about taking care of your physical, mental and emotional health. It’s about being active, taking a proper break, getting good quality sleep (yes I recognise the irony if you have a baby or young children), regular exercise, eating well, taking ‘me’ time (an essential, not a luxury), relaxing and having fun. Your wellness is an essential component for the ultimate work-life balance.
If this is an area you want to focus on, check out the boxset interviews with Vicky Warr (fitting in exercise when you are very busy) and Rebecca Hirst (who shares how to eat healthily but in a practical down-to-earth way i.e. no faddy diets and superfoods). (Find out more here).
You hear a lot about mindset today, but what do people mean by it. Mindset is a person’s way of thinking and their opinions. It’s a set of assumptions. Mindset starts with our thoughts and beliefs. Our thoughts lead us to feelings which in turn result in our behaviours. Our behaviours give us results.
The first step to developing a more confident mindset so that you can more confidently balance work and life, is to become more aware of your thoughts and beliefs. Our beliefs are held at an unconscious level so you might not be aware of all your beliefs. You might have some unhelpful or limiting beliefs. That limiting belief may be getting in the way of you going for promotion or requesting flexible working.
You can choose to have a different belief. A belief that is more useful. A belief which leads you to more useful actions (and therefore different results).
One of the biggest challenges for parents who work – being fully present and not feeling guilty when you are at work and when you are at home with your children.
Guilt is what you feel when you have done something wrong; at least that is your perception. You can use your guilt (whether at work or at home) to positive advantage. Guilt is a sign that something needs to change. You might remember my guilt story two years ago. You can be sure that now everybody in the house has an alarm clock! Guilt is such a big topic that there’s a whole chapter dedicated to it in my book.
What your children really want is your presence. Your full undivided attention. Children would much prefer 10 minutes of your absolute attention rather than an hour with you skimming through emails at the same time. The same at work too. Don’t waste your time feeling guilty. Just be fully present in whatever you do.
This is about you and where you get support. How often do you ask for help? And how do you feel if a friend asks for help?
If you’re like many of the women I work with, especially in my Confident Leadership programme, you might find it hard to ask for help and always willing to give help. Perhaps you worry that asking for help means you are not good enough. Not hard-working enough. Not clever enough to do it all on your own. Nobody can do it on their own. Ask for help and accept help when it’s offered.
That could be unpaid or paid help e.g. online shopping, hiring a cleaner, using a childminder.
The ultimate work-life balance comes when you ask for the support you need.
At the end of the day, your work-life balance is your responsibility. If you don’t like the balance you have right now, it is your responsibility to take action and change it. Yes you can ask for support; yes you can request flexible working; yes you can look after your wellness; yes you can focus on changing your mindset.
But it’s you, yes YOU that must take responsibility for how you balance your work and life.
7 simple concepts for you to get the ultimate work-life balance: your zebra, your why, your wellness, your mindset, your presence, your support and your responsibility.
Leave a comment below and let me know what you think you might need to focus on right now.