Events · News

Finding Ways for Women to Have it All

Announcing High Flying Women’s plans for 2018

After spending 2017 focusing on ‘work-life balance’ and debating what it means and what it looks like for different people, I have come to the easy conclusion that the term is failing us as women.

The reason I believe work-life balance does not work for us is because it separates work into a whole different category to the rest of our lives, which assumes that our professional endeavours should be held accountable for consuming our “life” (which includes family and personal goals and interests). This belief then leads us to blame our work and careers whenever we feel like we haven’t got something quite right in our life outside of work which is a crucial blocker for women who tend to strive for perfection, so in the end we reach a point where we feel something has got to give.

Instead of feeling totally out of control and overwhelmed by the many plates we feel like we must spin, I think we should keep it simple and focus on what we can control now, our day to day choices.

If there is a balance to consider, then I like to look at John Coleman’s framework (contributor to the Forbes leadership forum).

Where, ‘work’ reflects responsibilities in all areas of our lives such as doing the food shop, dusting and tidying, the school run, tough conversations with employees, sitting through budget meetings etc. They’re not necessarily fun, but they are the responsibilities we must all assume as adults, parents and workers. However, they provide fulfilment because they have purpose. They keep our loved ones alive, they keep our businesses alive, they are the responsibilities and obligations that get us out of bed everyday.

On the other hand if we said that ‘life’ then reflects the things we really want to do that give us joy for example, going to the pub with friends, taking the kids to Alton Towers, going on holiday with husbands and wives, and also the elements of work we love such as coming up with innovative solutions to client problems, leading workshops or mentoring. These clearly provide fulfilment because they energise us and give us joy.

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Therefore, if you spend too much time doing work elements i.e. your life feels like you’re mostly doing things you must do rather than want to do, perhaps your team at work is underperforming so you are spending a lot of time having tough conversations and working under pressure and then you go home and have to deal with a pile of washing, hoovering, tidying – then you are experiencing ‘Drudgery.’

On the other side of the coin, turning your back on responsibilities and purpose whilst indulging in only what you want to do, being completely selfish without making any sacrifices whatsoever – you will be leaning closer to ‘superficiality.’

No purpose and no joy quite simply leads to misery.

Therefore, ideally we put ourselves in the best position possible to flourish and feel the fulfilment that results from both purpose and joy. A balance of purposeful and joyful commitments which we control. So let’s really keep it simple. Really, the key is just a case of understanding that when you say yes to things on a day to day basis you are saying no to something else and vice versa. For example, by saying yes to staying late to help your colleague finish a project, you may be saying no to having dinner with your partner, which is absolutely your choice and it is as simple as that.

Only we know what matters to us, what gives us purpose and what gives us joy, therefore it is up to us to define that and allocate our time accordingly. Commit to yourself and those around you through taking the time to develop your skills, your character and enrich your life with friends, family, relationships, hobbies and career goals.

Shifting the question from “do I have a work-life balance?” i.e. do I spend enough time at home in comparison to work? Ask yourself “What does fulfilment look like to me? What drives me and gives me that purpose to push on? and what really makes me happy both at work and at home? But also what means more to me? So that I can make certain choices with clarity and not feel torn.

Therefore, I encourage everyone to forget “work-life balance” and instead we should all strive for fulfilment because when we feel that, we will feel like women who HAVE IT ALL. And we’ll never have to ponder over whether we have a work-life balance ever again.

And our ‘ALL’ is defined by us. So this will be our theme for 2018 – TO HAVE IT ALL. Whether this be: career, family, health, relationships, financial freedom, control, fulfilment and happiness. Pick what resonates with you and add in whatever you damn well please to this list. Aim high and most of all, ignore what everyone is saying you should want and instead, strive for the things that YOU want. Find your ‘ALL’ and ‘HAVE IT’ too.

Your ‘ALL’ will be the definition of success to you. However, really we are all striving for the same goal, fulfilment made up of purpose and joy.

Fundamentally, this way of thinking puts ‘work-life balance’ to shame because it allows us to get in touch with our core being. It clarifies what our passions and purposes are which will keep us focused on our long term goal of HAVING IT ALL, even when times get tough. It gives us the stamina to keep going and commit day in and day out, not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years and working hard to make that future a reality, understanding that the choices we make every single day matter. This character trait is what Angela Lee Duckworth describes as the key to success – Grit. Grit is you making a commitment to yourself because you believe you deserve to HAVE IT ALL. I certainly recommend listening to Angela Lee Duckworth’s TED talk on Grit.

So, part of High Flying Women’s 2018 mission will be to help you first of all define what your ALL looks like, help you understand why you want those things and then how to take the steps which will allow you to achieve your ALL. You will then know with clarity what your passion and purpose is and therefore, fire up the ‘Grit’ inside you that will keep you on the path to achieving your ALL longterm. Members of High Flying Women will be able to explore this at monthly intimate round table events where one or two experienced women / women who are leaders will be present to share their experiences. There will also be coaches present to really help you uncover what your ALL is and how to get it.

The other part will be engaging with the business community on a larger scale around elements of how women can have it all with quarterly events. For instance the first one, taking place on 31st January will be around the realities of leadership for women, led by Fiona McKay. Fiona is an expert in what it means to be a leader in the corporate world. Not only does Fiona personally coach a number of global CEOs but she also teaches people how to become leaders. Using her expertise, Fiona will be sharing some of the experiences of the leaders she coaches, whether they have been able to find their “ALL” and “HAVE IT TOO,” as well as what it’s really like for a woman to be a leader in the modern world of work and how to prepare for that path. If you’re not sure being a leader in the corporate world is for you then coming to this session could help you figure it out. The interactive part of the session will be focused on feedback – why it is essential for leadership success, how to ask for more feedback, how to recognise when you are not getting useful feedback and there will also be the opportunity to practice Fiona’s teachings in the workshop.

If you would like to become a member and therefore be able to take part in our monthly round table discussions, then make sure you attend January’s ‘The Realities of Leadership for Women’ event to become admitted into the membership. To receive an invite to this event, either contact me via Linkedin or subscribe on the website: www.highflyingwomenuk.com

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One thought on “Finding Ways for Women to Have it All

  1. I too have never felt the need to create a ‘work/life balance’, preferring the good old ‘Work hard and play hard’ motto. I read somewhere that for some people, like me, it is more stressful to try and separate work and play than to keep them as part of a whole. In my client facing sales role I believe that it is my job to reply to customer enquiries when they need an answer, even if I have left the office for the day. I know this is controversial and doesn’t suit is all but I would rather deal with things as they come rather than write endless ‘notes to self’ for the next day. Once I’ve dealt with an issue I have no trouble switching off and going to the gym, cooking a meal, chatting to family and relaxing. Not only that, some business associates are also friends and vice versa, so how do you draw a line between that? And another thing, if I have a great idea whilst in one of those ‘Bed, bath and bar moments’, which in my case happens on a hike or when pegging out the washing, am I to ignore it or commit it to my note book for follow up in the office? It’s often precisely during our ‘downtime’ that we are at our most creative. I think we are intelligent enough to rely on our own intuition to tell us when we’ve done enough and need to switch off, or rest.

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