PICK up a copy of almost any women's magazine today and
you're likely to find an article detailing clever tricks to help you achieve an
elusive balance between your career and your family.
The two are positioned as mutually exclusive concepts that
need to be fastidiously balanced, rather than two crucial components of a
The not-so-subtle message is that a perfect balance exists
for those who are prepared to work really hard at the "juggling act"
and thus deserve it.
The intention of such articles is no doubt to encourage
women who may be struggling to adjust to the realities of having children while
continuing their careers.
But I think they often backfire to foster a sense of guilt
for those moms who feel they are still not getting it right, no matter how
closely they follow the recommended tips.
For a long time, I was one of them. During times when I was
achieving great results at work, I felt I must be letting down my responsibilities
I saw success in one area to imply neglect in the other,
which I now know is completely misguided. Success in one area of my life gives
me strength and self-confidence that can applied in all others.
These four realisations have helped me attain a sense of
success in my life that goes beyond simply balancing work and family.
Stop trying so hard to separate work and family
Learn to think of "work life" and "family
life" as a unified sphere – it's OK to let work blur into family time
sometimes and vice versa.
Constantly trying to separate the two when they are both
important to you creates a constant sense of having to juggle between roles,
which is exhausting.
Having supportive environments where you are appreciated and understood allows you the
ability to unify these seemingly separate worlds.
Face your fiercest critic
As a working mom, you will experience external pressure from
Some will think you're letting working women down by
focusing too much attention at home; others may call you selfish for having
career aspirations when you also have a family to attend to.
But your fiercest critic will be you.
You'll need to seriously question your priorities and learn
to accept them, whatever they may be, regardless of how they fit in with the
norms in your social circles.
Self-acceptance is probably the most challenging aspect of
all, but it is the only way to silence internal battles.
Find a coach or mentor
There will be times when your responsibilities seem
overwhelming and you will need a safe space to talk.
Colleagues, friends and family members will struggle to
remain objective as they'll each have their own ideas about where your energies
should best be spent.
A coach or mentor will assist in bringing objectivity into
your world, helping you to separate the issues and see things more clearly.
Allow the people you work with the space and opportunities
to grow and develop in their own careers.
This will enable them to take on a greater share of the load
when you need it. It can feel a little threatening at first, but empowering
others does not mean you are handing over your own power – rather think of it
as elevating the whole team to new heights.
Ultimately, this is what leadership is all about.
* Glynnis Jeffries is head: business development at Futuregrowth. She is the second guest columnist taking part in Fin24’s Women’s Month campaign celebrating women in business. Fin24 welcomes your participation in the campaign. Send your views to email@example.com
and you could get published.Previous columns:Women a force for change
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