In an ideal world, we would all achieve a level of healthy work/life balance. We would be able to take care of ourselves and those people, projects, and other things that are important to us. Unfortunately, for many of us, this is as realistic as fairy tale notions of money trees and clicking our heels to get us home.
The challenge in finding balance is, in part, due to constantly changing expectations in the workplace. According to Tony Schwartz and Catherine McCarthy in “Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time,” published in the Harvard Business Review, “Organizations are demanding ever-higher performance from their workforces. People are trying to comply, but the usual method—putting in longer hours—has backfired. They’re getting exhausted, disengaged, and sick. And they’re defecting to healthier job environments. Longer days at the office don’t work because time is a limited resource.”
Entrepreneurs face the same challenges: we work longer hours, during which we remain electronically connected to employees and our network of business associates. Given this nonstop pressure, many women are beginning to focus on self-care, also known as self-sustainability. Some women view it as an aspect of feminism—and survival.
Almost every week, I read an article or blog post about the importance of being still, taking time away from work, and getting basic rest. A recent article about rest in children in Perspectives in Psychological Science states, “Balance is needed between outward and inward attention, since time spent mind wandering, reflecting, and imagining may also improve the quality of outward attention that kids can sustain.”
I polled some of the women in my life to ask them what they do to take care of themselves. Here’s what they shared:
“When I wake up, I do my daily devotion, including reading and studying the Bible. I pray. After that, I meditate for a minimum of 20 minutes and I write down my thoughts and experiences. I often share these on Facebook. Next I take my vitamins and do some form of physical exercise. My spiritual well-being has taken center stage, and that leads to physical and emotional well-being.”
“I focus on eating well. I don’t eat prepared foods (especially if I have trouble pronouncing the ingredients!). And water, water, water.”
“Yoga! Having a regular practice has been very powerful for me. It is a way of turning inward to cultivate my own spirit, as well as a reminder to turn outward and pass on hope and joy to others.”
Cali Williams Yost, author of Work+Life: Finding the Fit That’s Right for You, suggests in a recent Fast Company article that “it’s time for a language and mindset update.”
She writes, “The language that’s worked for me over the past decade and is being adopted by more employers is work-life ‘fit,’ or the unique fit between your work and personal realities. It will change day-to-day and during major life and career transitions, like going back to school, having a baby, or caring for an aging family member. What you want to have is the flexibility to manage your work-life fit in a way that works for you and your job.”
Rest, reflection, and time for balance is about a commitment to ourselves. Wishing you luck, as we all work on a balance and “fit” that helps us be who are.
Please check out the Diversity Woman website (diversitywoman.com), where Tanya will post additional articles and resources about self-care, self-compassion, work-life fit, and balance.