Redefining your success in the workplace AND at home
Success. We’ve seen the statistics. We’ve read up on the extensive studies. We know the facts. Happy, well-balanced employees that are encouraged to make time for life outside of the workplace by way of creative, flexible schedules, generous vacation plans and grounded, collaborative team environments produce more, stay in their jobs longer and ultimately, impact a Company’s bottomline… for the positive.
And yet, as a society, we still reach for unrealistic expectations on our time and energy when it comes to our professional success. The early bird gets the worm, the top dog works around the clock and survival of the fittest is the name of the game. We force ourselves to choose. Either we focus on our careers at the expense of our families, personal wellbeing and any semblance of a social life outside of our work, or we focus on family and carry the constant criticism and guilt that we are not fully committed to our work and may even believe that we are somehow slacking off by choosing to make the important people in our lives a priority.
When did we allow ourselves to create a life of “either/or?”
Why do we continue to let this misalignment in our priorities and human experience dictate our decisions, our perception and ultimately, our happiness? What will it take for society as a whole to walk the walk AND talk the talk? What will it take for us to implement that which we know to be true? When will we embrace living a life of “and?”
This challenge exists for career professionals and entrepreneurs. Whether your work brings you to an office environment with a full staff, supervisors and traditional employment, or you are in charge of your own schedule and a working party of one, we all experience the pressure to make choices that continually place us in an “either/or” mentality. No matter what we choose, there is always a sense of loss, inadequacy, disappointment or guilt. Whether a busy mum misses the Tuesday night soccer game to stay late at the annual board meeting or the loving dad skips out on Wednesday’s sales call to pick up a sick child from school, we continually feel that someone is getting the short end of the stick. We’re not enough. We’re failing.
How do we embrace a life of “and” where we ditch the limiting beliefs that are holding us back from living the lives we are truly meant to live? First, we must begin to communicate our expectations and our needs. Whether that means setting healthy boundaries on our time in the home office or honestly sharing our family situation as we interview for a new job, we must choose to make ourselves a priority by speaking up and opening a dialogue where everyone wins.
“I’m very excited to come on board with the Company. I’m confident that I can contribute creative ideas that will drive both growth and profitability. I did want to let you know that my son has a standing soccer game on Tuesday evenings that is a priority for my family. While I will not be available to stay late that evening, I can be available on Wednesday and Thursday evenings for later meetings.”
“Hi, new client! I’m excited to work with you and look forward to supporting your needs. I did want to let you know that my daily office hours are 8:30am – 3:30pm. During that time, I am in my office and immediately available for calls and you’ll always see quick email response times. After that time, feel free to send over any information or requests, and I’ll be sure to get back to you the very next day.”
This dialogue is not a one-way street. Change is a collaborative process where everyone contributes to the solution. This means we must receive the expectations and needs that are spoken, actively listening and affirming life as the top priority. The second step to communicating our needs and expectations is supporting others in their decisions and acknowledging what is best for them.
“I appreciate you telling me about your family commitment. I want you to know that we prioritise family here. We want to make sure that you don’t miss out on those important moments with your children. We’re confident that you can responsibly manage your time and workload while keeping your family your top priority. We wouldn’t have it any other way. We’ll make sure to schedule any later meetings for Wednesdays and Thursdays.”
“Thank you for letting me know! I’m excited to work with you and appreciate the head’s up on your office hours. It sounds like you have made a great decision for you and your family. I may send over late night thoughts from time to time, but I’ll do so knowing to not expect a response until the next business day at earliest. We all need to step away and enjoy life! Good for you!”
Yes, this change will take time.
The “either/or” mentality has been deeply ingrained in us, generation after generation. Society will not change overnight. It starts with us… what are the first baby steps that you can make in your own life to embrace “and?” What tiny adjustments to your sails can be made to chart your course towards a life that celebrates your professional ambitions AND your commitment to your family?
Even before you start communicating with others, you must communicate with yourself. You must believe that you deserve the very best across all facets of life. You must give yourself permission to live the life you want, not the life you feel pressured to perform. You must allow yourself the opportunity to have it all. And most importantly, you must believe that what you choose and what you need are valid, worthy and reflections of your personal definition of success. Ditch the inner critic, find your voice and step into your greatness, in the workplace AND at home.
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