Work-Life Balance... Myth or Reality?

Many women say the phrase “work-life balance” is more like a sweet elusive fantasy akin to the tooth fairy rather than a real, achievable goal. But Marla Beck, a Northern California life and career coach who mainly works with creative types, doesn’t agree.  

“The very first key is to cultivate a curious mind about this. You have to try different ideas out and observe how they work for you. For most women striking a work-life balance is a process and you have to be gentle on yourself and not judge when your life feels really out of whack.”  Crazy today, crazy this week, or even this crazy quarter—Beck’s favorite way to parse time-- doesn’t mean imbalanced forever.  

“I teach my clients to think in quarters because it offers a lot of flexibility. Set small, attainable quarterly goals with the intention that your priorities and goals will likely change quarter to quarter.” Perhaps you want to push yourself by working more hours, aiming for a lofty sales goal or doing more client outreach this quarter, but next quarter your daughter is graduating and you’ll scale back because you know she’ll need you more. “For many women, goal setting based on quarters keeps them on track with their career, but also builds in the flexibility they need for their home and family.”  

Interestingly, Beck says women shouldn’t be afraid of time limitations or talk themselves out of taking on a project because they’re only able to work a certain number of hours a day. “It’s kind of counterintuitive, but time limitations can actually be your best friend. When someone knows that she only has until 2pm and then after that she’s mom again, it’s amazing what gets accomplished. I see it happen all the time.” 

But if you truly want balance, Beck contends there’s one non-negotiable: you have to treat yourself well. “You’re your most precious resource. You have to invest in yourself like you’re the talent.” Talent wouldn’t habitually skip sleep, not eat properly and not take care of her health. “We’re all more beautiful, more successful and more balanced when we’re rested and happy.” 

 

Brave New You

How to make things happen for yourself

From New Year’s resolutions to going after that long-awaited promotion, we all set goals for ourselves. It’s easy to want more for yourself, but it can be far more difficult to make your dream a reality. Here’s some of our best advice for reaching your goals, no matter what they are.

Prep for Success
Goals and dreams don’t just happen, we create them, so write out exactly what it is that you want to achieve. Then, make a list of exactly what you’re asking yourself to do to make it a reality. Breakdown your goal into realistic, doable steps and create a reasonable timeline in which to get them done.
 
If you’re having trouble getting started, research how others have achieved the same goal. Be honest with yourself about any fears you might have about failure and success and take into consideration that there will be missteps and setbacks along the way. They are a part of the process of getting what you want. You can even sign a contract with yourself to make your commitment to your goal official. Put it somewhere you will see it as a reminder.
 
Ask for Help
When you let people in on your goal, it generally gives your project legs. Others may, “know someone, who knows someone” who may be able to offer advice or opportunities. Plus, trusted friends and relatives can be cheerleaders and good listeners to help keep you on track when you need a boost. And it should go without saying, but there will always be naysayers. By all means avoid them and keep things moving in a positive direction. Leave the haters behind.  

Stay Focused
Stay focused to your goal by patting yourself on the back as you complete the smaller steps you created for yourself. Celebrate your follow through of the mini-goals that are a part of your overall success. If you hit an unexpected snag, don’t panic. Solving small problems along the way can become points of encouragement and a reminder to never give up on your goal.

Last, but certainly not least, stay positive! Journaling can be a powerful tool for focus and commitment. It’s easy to forget how far we’ve come and looking back on your progress in your own words can serve as a great motivator. When it comes to getting what you want in life, only you can make it happen!
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