Controversy and conversation continues to swirl around the announcement of Marissa Mayers being named the new CEO of Yahoo. The good news is nobody appears to be questioning her qualifications and/or competency for the position – reflecting how far we have come as a society in accepting women in the C-suite. Rather the fact that she is pregnant and her plans for working through her shortened maternity leave is what has people, men and women alike, weighing in on all sides of this situation. Why? Because people mistakenly believe work-life balance is a woman’s issue, when in fact, it is everyone’s issue because it is a family issue.
It raises everyone’s antennae around the evergreen issue of work-life balance. It is fascinating to watch this controversy unfold as it reminds me of the days when we thought women couldn’t play sports for many silly reasons but the one most often cited is related to menstruation. Then women entered the work force in masses because they “had” to – the men were away at war, but the moment they found out they were pregnant they stopped working outside the home for fear of losing their pregnancy. And today the question is rarely asked of pregnant women: “Are you going back to work?” but rather: “When are you going back to work?” Which leads us to the present question of working through maternity leave and its implication for work-life balance.
In today’s fast-paced global economy and the ability to communicate on a 24/7 basis, the ability to create boundaries around our work and personal lives becomes ever more challenging. In my best selling book: “Not Tonight Dear, I’ve Got a Business to Run!” I make the point that women know we can’t keep our work and personal lives totally separate and the ability to reconcile these two responsibilities is what creates work-life balance. What is lost in the conversation surrounding Marissa Mayers is the fact that work-life balance is not a one size fits all formula. What is considered work-life balance for me might not be considered work-life balance for you because your business and family goals are most likely different than my business and family goals – and isn’t that exactly the point? Having the ability to create a life we love defined in a manner that represents a winning formula for our own unique needs – that fits our own unique marriage and family goals. We all love our children – but we raise them very differently based upon our values and goals for them, therefore, doesn’t it make sense that what one considers to be work-life balance doesn’t work for someone else.
My strongest recommendation for obtaining a gold medal in your quest for work-life balance is to create a family plan, (as recommended in my book) that compliments rather than competes against your business/career goals. And just as importantly – live in the moment and be totally present. When you are at work – work. Focus on your work by creating the self-discipline to tune out any personal issues that might distract you from your task at hand. When you are at home – be totally present. Discipline yourself to not check your smart phone incessantly and be truly and thoroughly engaged by living “in the moment”. There is a time and place for everything. The fact that we, as women, can multi-task efficiently doesn’t mean we need to use this skill all the time.
Creating your unique family plan than compliments your business/career plan will ensure work-life balance and your success in business and life! It’s your life to live – go for the Gold!!
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