Recently, Propeller Uplift participated in San Francisco’s Dress for Success Professional Women’s Group (PWG) panel. The mission of the Professional Women’s Group is to provide support, practical information, and inspiration to achieve self-defined success in career and in life for Dress for Success' network of employed San Francisco women. Work-life balance can be tricky to discuss, but our panelists — Amy Weeden, Propeller's Managing Partner and Co-founder, along with Propeller consultants Kristine Biscocho and Emily Baker — candidly tackled this subject. In an effort to capture their diverse responses for posterity, I've recorded some of their best insights below.
"Constantly invest in your personal development and education."
For activities that I like to do, I treat it like a meeting and schedule it on my calendar ahead of time. Once it is on my calendar, I give it the same importance as other major activities. During the weekend, I like to have one morning with nothing scheduled – this gives me time to do something spontaneous or catch up on sleep, if needed.
Learn how to say no
I think it is important to learn how to say “no” without feeling bad about yourself or feeling like you need to make up an excuse. I was taught that it was polite to accept most invitations and requests for help, so this was something I needed to re-train myself on. If you are feeling drained because all your free time is being absorbed by doing things for other people, you are not showing up 100% for anything.
invest in you
Constantly invest in your personal development and education. Not only is it an investment in career, it helps you gain confidence to take on greater challenges.
"Have something for yourself that brings you joy."
Know what type of work-life you want
You should have your professional story ready and have a good pulse on what you’re looking for when transitioning into a new role. Don’t be afraid to seek help — you’ll find many good people who want to help you — and having your professional story and what you’re looking for ready will help them help you.
Partner With Others
Your colleagues and significant others play a huge role in helping you achieve balance because they support you and often enable you. As an example, Propeller has a culture with an amazing focus on you as a whole person and it’s something I really appreciate. What I mean by this is yes, you work, but you also have hobbies or interests beyond work and Propeller is not only understanding of that, but very supportive. There’s no expectation that work comes first at all costs.
Work-Life Balance Tips to Live By
• You can’t have it all. There are always tradeoffs. Accepting that you need to make tradeoffs and re-prioritize activities is key to finding what works best for you.
• Swim in your own lane – balance for you will look different than balance for someone else.
• Have something for yourself that brings you joy. It could be work, it could be a hobby – but have something for yourself that’s independent of anyone else in your life (i.e. your children, partner, family, etc.).
"Let good enough be good enough."
Create Open Lines of Communication
As a working single mom, I have a new appreciation for the “it takes a village” proverb. I have built myself a great support network at home of sitters, friends, and family and I’m not ashamed to ask for help when I need it if a late night at the office means I’ll miss school pickup or when a client requires me to travel offsite.
Redefine the Concept of Balance
My biggest challenge was realizing that there was no “one size fits all” answer to achieving work-life balance. I used to regard work-life balance as a goal. Something that I would achieve and ultimately complete.
Reframing balance as juggling has helped me see it not as a depressing Sisyphean task, but a fun game of sorts. It’s something I can get curious about and challenge myself with. How many balls can I juggle? How many can I set down and still feel okay and whole? If I drop one, do I really need to pick it up, or can it sit there for a few days? As a result, this shift in mindset has helped me to not be overwhelmed about not “having it all."
A couple months ago, I was getting really overwhelmed. I had so many appointments, projects, and commitments, it was getting impossible to juggle them all! Then I came to the startling realization that I had chosen all these activities. I put them there, said the yesses, booked the meetings myself.
Once I accepted that it was my decisions that led to me to being overbooked, I had a new lens. This lens of being grateful for all the fun, productive, or useful things I get to do makes it much easier to identify activities that truly fuel me and serve my purpose from ones that might not be the best choice for me near-term.
As illustrated above, certain pursuits in life will ultimately dictate the amount of time we have for work, family, and passion projects. However, if we are mindful of what is important to us, it can become easier to re-prioritize our lives.
Propeller Uplift is proud to work with Dress for Success San Francisco. The program helps women navigate the myriad of challenges they face in making the transition from unemployment to the workforce, from understanding company culture, to handling personal finances. PWG speakers offer professional guidance on relevant topics in Financial Health, Health & Wellness, Work-Life Balance, Workplace Etiquette, and Civic Leadership.
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Propeller alumna Amanda Pegues is a student of human nature. She’s fascinated by the interplay between organizational culture and team management in the workplace, and she’s built up an arsenal of skills that allow her to effect change in a variety of environments. She pulls from learnings amassed in her travels to more than 30 countries and over a dozen years of working with multinational clients on wide-ranging change and business transformation initiatives. Amanda holds an MBA from Emory University and a bachelor’s degree in economics and international studies from the University of Wisconsin–Madison.