Achieving Balance

work life 2Do you believe that it is possible to strike a happy work life balance? The Web is rich with advice and smart tips all designed to help us figure out how to find the wonderful equilibrium in our life that promises to take all the beat-the-clock rushing and anxiety away. That balanced center that allows us to be mindfully “present” at work and home.  After 25+ years of juggling and trying all sorts of strategies, I’ve discovered that there really is no perfect balance “bulls-eye” that can assure our success and happiness. We often find that across all those good days when every important work deadline was met and all home priorities were neatly tucked away, we are still searching for something.  Like there is something more important we wanted to have than a 50/50 balance.

Friends, achieving balance is not what we should ultimately strive for.  Instead, try to concentrate on the feeling or state of mind that you want to have as you live through your decisions and choices.  Let me unpack this concept a little with a personal story.  My daughter’s school was putting on a new show that she was really excited about.  She loves dance and her part was to do a challenging “kick line” number with her friends.  For weeks she practiced and as she did, I pulled up a chair to compliment her progress and cheer.  Finally, the school officially announced the show dates.  I was very excited about ordering tickets and after visiting the website, my heart did a nose dive and sank.  The show days all fell on the same week I would be travelling for work.  No negotiating this one.  I was a key presenter at the meeting and had to be there.  Classic example of what working moms encounter all the time.  The stars usually don’t align the way we want them to.  Despite our super human determination, we simply can’t be at two places at the same time.  I explained the situation to my daughter and she told me not a worry about it, she understood completely. The love and support of my husband and sisters assured me that all would be fine. They would all be there to take care of shooting the video and taking pictures.  On the surface, nothing was wrong.  The bases were covered.  Balance wasn’t an issue and everyone was happy.

Except for me.

Work Life Balance

Work Life Balance

I had to do something to try and make this work.  After a little brainstorming, I called the school (yes the thought to ask them to change the show date did cross my mind!) and explained the situation.  “Why don’t you come for the dress rehearsal?” Yes the dress rehearsal! It fell on a date that was clear.  I found my smile and couldn’t wait to tell my daughter that I would see the whole show start to finish at the rehearsal practice.  Though this plan wasn’t perfect, it made me feel so much better.  On rehearsal day, there was only one lady sitting in the bleachers for a good long while…Me!  I clapped after every number and when my daughter’s turn finally came, I cherished every second of cheering her on. She was also very happy to know that somehow mom found a way to get there and be part of something that was important to her.

So when it comes to work life balance, don’t focus on trying to do it all. Instead, zero in on how you want to feel after you make work life choices.  Know your limits and think about how your decisions will leave you feeling after you’ve made them.  I was lucky to have found an alternative. But I knew in my heart that I would have to bow out of the meeting if it really came to it.  The feeling of missing the event was too hard.  Managing career and home this way will mean some things will fall second to other more important priorities.  Some things may not happen at all.  The key is that you are not striving to achieve balance per se, but making good choices by paying attention to how you feel and want to feel at the end of that particular journey.

Tips for Communicating with Confidence & Dressing “Right” for the Occasion

I just came back from a large 2 day conference that offered a great opportunity to network with others in my field. confidenceThe location was great, I met lots of interesting people and left with some new ideas.  As I perused the conference center and participated in various round-table discussions, I began to notice the different techniques men and women used to introduce themselves.  In this type of setting, speaking with confidence and ease is key to establishing a strong first impression.  In this post, I offer some tips on how to maintain a powerful presence and communicate with confidence.  While I am not a fashion guru, I do offer some advice on style and attire.

high heels

Not a good idea if you have to walk all day

Shoulders and Shoes are high impact aspects of how others will perceive you.  Men have it easier in this category than women do when it comes to feet.  They can  wear comfortable “walking” shoes and have learned through the years how important it is to stand straight with shoulders broad and back.  Throughout the conference I couldn’t help but notice that the women wearing those painful pointy high heels didn’t capture the same “presence” as the women wearing a stylish yet comfortable pair of shoes.  The high-heelers tended to shift back and forth as they spoke.  The swaying became more of a distraction and took away from a strong “stand” in the networking circle.  Clearly, the shifting was happening to alleviate pressure on foot by moving it to the other.  Point goes to the guys.  Women please wear shoes that you don’t have to think about at your event.  You want your attention to focus on the conversation, not on how to stand so that your feet don’t hurt. If your feet hurt, your shoulders will naturally curl and you’ll lose your solid strong shoulders presence.  In my case, I wore a cool pair of leopard style flats.  They were comfortable, wearable for the duration and added some dash to my outfit.

These were great shoes to wear at an event that required all day walking

These were great shoes to wear at an event that required all day walking

2. Crisp Suit and Shirt. One of the group discussions was led by 2 men working for the same company.  They dressed differently. One wore the traditional crisp white shirt and suit.  The other a polo shirt, dockers and sports jacket. Most of the people in that session were dressed in formal business clothes.  As both speakers went through their talk, the gentlemen in the suit seemed to be more relaxed and connected better with the audience.  The other more casually dressed speaker didn’t have the same impact standing alongside someone who had clearly dressed more fittingly for the event.  They each went through their presentations and concluded with an invitation to answer any questions. All the questions went to the guy wearing the formal business attire.  I do believe that his dressing right for the occasion (in similar fashion with the audience) contributed to the better connection. The main takeaway here is to know your audience and dress accordingly.  It is always better to fare on the side of “business” than too casual.

3.  Listen More Speak Less.  Not easy to do.  No one is comfortable during the  conversation pause. The tip here is to show interest in the other person.  Let them tell you about what they do and why they are there.  Be a good listener.  During a customer reception, one lady in the group dominated the entire discussion, interrupting others and even tried to describe another person’s job function.  No one liked her.  Slowly and surely, the group started to get smaller.  People left the circle.  I was the last person with her staying in part because I felt bad to make up an excuse to leave and also because she complimented my leopard flats 🙂 so I continued to listen to her story.

4.  Be present.  According to Shawn Achor’s new book, “before happiness”, our brain can only process forty bits of information per second every minute of  every day – choosing from among eleven million pieces of information our senses are receiving.  The people who were the best net workers were those who were “present” in the conversation.  They didn’t constantly check their email, look at their watch, or simply nod when someone asked a question.  They were paying attention and were genuinely interested in the dialog.  Key here is to be ready to dedicate your time and focus on what you are doing in the moment. Participating means more than showing up.  It means being present in “mind” and body.

September drew in several new followers to truthstoinspire.  Thank you for your visit and please remember to click “follow” on this page if you would like to be notified when a new post is available.  Best