Bucket List Challenge!Kathleen Byars | July 9, 2017
- Something you can do in the next two months (train for a 5K, take swimming lessons, learn a language)
- Something you can schedule in the next six months (go skydiving, see the Grand Canyon, etc.)
- Something you can commit to doing in the next two years (African safari, become a foster parent, start a foundation, etc.)
I am inspired to help corporate women find balance in their daily lives. We are elevating this critical topic of work-life balance for women in a new, private Facebook group. If you’re a corporate woman, please join us!
The Myth that Keeps Working Moms Clinging to the Corporate LadderKathleen Byars | May 6, 2017
MYTH: Working moms cannot redesign their career to favor motherhood without sacrificing everything they’ve worked so hard for professionally.
When I was working 50-60 hours per week my daughter was quite young. I asked her once why she had to be in school every day from 7:30 in the morning to 6 PM at night.
She replied, “Mommy, I have to go to school to learn!”
I was relieved to hear her words. Yet I found out many years later that she was simply parroting back to me what I was constantly telling her…and that despite all the time she got to spend with her school friends she secretly hated those long days away from me.
Feeling guilty about our time apart, I was constantly telling my daughter that she had to go to school all those hours each day in order to learn. In reality, I was simply assuaging my own guilt.
Of course, she HAD to learn so that someday she could grow up and be like me and get a GOOD job and be a SUCCESS…
…and in turn, have her own daughters who she would drop off at daycare for 10-12 hours per day while she worked.
Which is exactly what happened.
Today, my grown daughter works 50+ hours per week and her two little girls are in daycare. Even though they all miss each other a lot.
When I am asked what I would have done differently when trying to balance motherhood with my career the first time around, I always say that I would have worked less and mothered more.
And it’s not because I wasn’t a “great mom”. I led Girl Scouts. I brought homemade cookies to every school event. I threw epic birthday parties. I took my daughter with me on business trips all over the world.
Yet, I didn’t understand how to unwind the script in my head that told me I had to work full-tilt in order to be a success. I didn’t understand that I could have worked less and designed my career to spend more time with my baby girl, while still being a high level contributor and valuable asset to my employer.
TRUTH: I wish someone had told me that I had the courage, talent, and capability to create a POWERFUL career that didn’t require long hours away from home and crazy, frenetic days racing from point A to point B.
TRUTH: And I wish I had known that the legacy I was leaving my daughter – the footprints I gave her to follow – meant she would in turn someday create her own unbalanced life…and miss out on the journey of a lifetime with her littles.
Today, the overwhelm of working parents is endemic. Seventy-five percent of all working families report less than a few hours of quality time per week with their kiddos. And while as a nation we are wealthier than ever before, surveys measuring our well-being shows that our contentment and satisfaction is plummeting. And yet, the same cycle repeats itself over and over until someone stands up and says “enough”…my family is going to be different.
Can you relate?
I am inspired to help corporate moms be the professionals AND the mothers they want to be. We are elevating this critical topic of work-life balance for women in a new, private Facebook group. If you’re a corporate mom, please join us!
May You Live Every Day of Your LifeKathleen Byars | April 28, 2017
I came across a beautiful quote this week on work-life balance from former KPMG CEO, Eugene O’Kelly.
“What if I hadn’t worked so hard? What if…I had actually used…my position to be a role model for balance? Had I done so intentionally, who’s to say that, besides having more time with my family, I wouldn’t have also been even more focused at work? More creative? More productive? It took inoperable late stage brain cancer to get me to examine things from this angle.”
And he’s right. Researchers have found that employees get more done – and do so at a higher quality level – when they have work-life balance; meaning more control over their time and can better anticipate any disruptions to that schedule.
When leaders focus on the objective – and not how many hours a staffer spends working – employees are more engaged, more creative, and more productive.
Huh, who knew?
I was never praised by my employer for the number of hours I worked, yet I always had the distinct impression that I was valued for my dedication to the firm. (Note…this was inside my head just like it may be inside yours…I had to learn to how to get rid of this deep-seeded notion).
Study after study shows that work-life balance which includes taking time off, working a predictable, yet flexible schedule and immersing oneself in guilt-free, long vacations where there is absolutely no contact with the office stimulates high productivity, longer employee retention, and improved staff communication.
And guess what? You can create that for yourself right now. As I’ve written in previous articles, waiting for some external force such as a boss, a shift in company culture, or a new job to create boundaries for you isn’t going to happen.
The secret sauce is in re-wiring your concept of what a valuable employee looks like and understanding how to create value for your employer so they have no qualms about granting you a more flexible schedule. Are some employers more generous than others? You bet. Yet once you’ve made up your mind that you want to be compensated for your value rather than your time, you’ll be surprised at how simple this actually is to do.
So what do you do that your boss, your company, and your colleagues find priceless? Are you an amazing orator? Spectacular mediator? Incredible with remembering details? A true leader of people? You’ve got secret sauce – we all do. Market that. Make that your core competency and solve other people’s problems using your unique ability. Work less, not more, yet hone in on your true value and make that your calling card at the office.
And all the other stuff? The late night hours, after-work cell phone calls, early morning emails. Stop it. Seriously. Just stop it. You’re too valuable. You need to create space to be the genius that you are. And that comes by letting go – not doing more.
And what would you do with your extra time? Reconnect with your kids? Deepen your connection with your spouse? Spend time giving back to the world in a meaningful way? Or heck, you could simply sharpen up your tennis game! The possibilities for rejuvenation are endless.
The point is that work doesn’t have to take precedence over life. Creating a rich, meaningful life is about living according to your core values and putting effort into all areas of life, not just one or two. It’s a life of deep contentment, connection, and joy.
And the kicker is that science supports our quest for a flexible work-life balance that’s within our control. It’s time to shelve the after-hours cell phone calls and leave the laptop at work. Maybe even be so daring to leave the office an hour or two early several times each week? You’ll not only increase your joy in life but also be one heck of an amazing employee.
After all, science says so.
Are You Letting Your Career Ruin Your Life?Kathleen Byars | April 22, 2017
I’ve been ruminating this week on some of the biggest career mistakes I’ve seen lately…
But there’s one critical error I saw yesterday that will keep you trapped in a life of frenzy, instead of feeling fulfilled and free.
CAREER MISTAKE #3 – “Mistaking commitment for hours on the job”
Here are three reasons why people tend to WORK MORE HOURS than they ever need to and disrupt their own ability to enjoy their life…
1. FEAR (I’ve talked about this in previous articles)
2. YOU MISTAKE HOURS OF WORK FOR VALUE
This sounds harmless, but here’s the issue:
Getting MORE work done is NOT always better.
When you become the go-to for “getting things done,” you’ll not only burn yourself out but also stall your career.
You will find yourself caught in an expectation triangle from your peers, your staff, and your boss. They’ll rely on you to:
- Take on an extra assignment (or two) even when your plate is overflowing
- Schedule conference calls while on vacation
- Skip your child’s school play
- Answer your cell phone at all hours, including weekends
And while it may feel good to be the point person that everyone turns to when there’s a major project to tackle, how will it look when year after year your most valuable career asset is the fact you’ll take one for the team time and time again?
That work ethic works wonders when you’re straight out of grad school. And any corporation will eat up as many hours as you’re willing to give.
Yet, I don’t want to be the tough girl who handles the bulk of the work. ANYONE can do that.
I would rather be a high-level contributor who brings intellect, confidence and results in the workplace.
And goes home each day at a reasonable hour with her cell phone OFF.
That’s why I’ve learned to find super-intriguing career opportunities where I am valued – and well paid for that value – without requiring me to work an insane number of hours.
3. YOU FEEL GUILTY FOR WORKING LESS – and feel awful that other people on the team may be burning the midnight oil while you’re home snuggling your kiddos.
…so you feel compelled to work all those hours to make sure you’re valuable (and to assuage that guilt).
I get it – it stinks to watch others working ridiculous hours, especially if you think they resent you (rather than look in their own mirror).
Don’t get me wrong – being a team player and feeling valuable are important.
BUT…this becomes a problem when you believe that working an insane amount of hours is the way to achieve this.
Let this sink in – – YOU CAN BE HIGHLY VALUED – AND COMMAND A COMFY SALARY – WITHOUT WORKING A TON OF HOURS
Plus you’ll never get it all done. There will always be one more email to answer, one more phone call to return, one small detail on your presentation to fix…
But there will NEVER be another life than the one you’ve got now. Getting a lot done isn’t value. It’s work.
There are plenty of ways that you can provide value WITHOUT working 50+ hours per week.
In most cases, I’ve found that the real issue with those struggling with work-life balance is NOT the employer. It’s usually that:
You are a highly successful person that has an inner drive to be productive at all times.
Even when you are “relaxing” you struggle to be calm. It’s impossible to turn your mind off. While watching a Friday night Netflix you constantly pop up and down off the couch until the kids shout “why don’t you just SIT DOWN?”
You’re confusing “being valued” with “if I’m the one that gets work done I will be the most valuable.”
And although you desperately want to get off the fast train and enjoy a slower pace, that inner guilt and anxiety won’t let you.
I know. I get it. I used to jump into my voice mailbox the minute I started driving in order to “get ahead” of my day. I had to filter emails while I sat in the bleachers during my daughter’s basketball game. And although I negotiated wonderful flex schedules with almost every employer I’ve ever worked for, I never managed to work less – I just worked more from a different locale.
The struggle is real.
Anyone else struggle working less while still feeling valued?
How I Stumbled from Success to the Good LifeKathleen Byars | February 26, 2017
Six months ago, I wrote an article about Why I Traded My Lipstick and Pinstripe Suit to Live on an Island. It resonated with a lot of people. You may have read that article and subscribed to my newsletter because of it.
Like many people who have joined my community, you may feel like you are biding your time until you can create your own “island story.”
Maybe you dream of a NEW CAREER.
Maybe you want MORE BALANCE in your life.
Maybe you want to do something meaningful, and use your skills with a GREATER PURPOSE in mind.
What’s stopping you?
If you are comfortable doing so, leave a comment below and share so we can learn from each other.
I’ll tell you what stopped me from finding my ideal life for a long time. And what took me eight years of research, trial and error, and deep introspection to figure out.
The answer to the good life isn’t outside of you. It’s inside.
In the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People Dr. Stephen Covey calls this Inside Out Living. In his research on success, Covey found the success literature of the past fifty years to be superficial. It is filled with social image techniques and quick-fix, external Band-Aids to address acute internal problems. The issue being that these “fixes” only work temporarily. Prior to this time period, success literature focused on man’s nature and intrinsic principles, rather than external forces.
I didn’t realize this gem of wisdom so I kept looking for answers in all the wrong places:
- I tried being more productive. I thought if I could squeeze more productivity into each day, I would find more time to do the things I loved. I was wrong.
- I tried changing jobs and considered a myriad of new career paths I might take. This didn’t work either.
- I tried being nicer and more benevolent in hopes that my increased dedication to spirituality would throw better karma my way. My karma didn’t budge.
- I tried telling myself that I had a fantastic life and I should be grateful for what I had. After all, so many others in the world have far more difficult lives. My first-world anxiety was silly and I needed to get over it. The shame I felt about my discontent just made things worse.
- I tried being poor, but that just made me miss being rich.
I had carved out a successful life for myself and yet I still felt discontented. Every time I made gains in one area, I lost ground in another.
Finally, I threw my hands up in despair and decided to do the very opposite of what I was doing. And it worked.
Here are three major shifts I learned to make:
STOP ASKING PERMISSION: For a long time, I kept thinking that IF I had a flexible enough job and IF I had a certain kind of boss and IF the company culture was a certain way and IF I could go home every night at 5 PM that my life would be infinitely better.
The problem with this type of thinking is that we are waiting for someone or something else to give us “permission” to have the life we want. Rather than establish our boundaries, according to what we want in life, we hope that some external force will tell us that it is okay to work less and play more.
ALTER YOUR EGO: What I learned in the islands is that I valued myself for what I did. My ego – and sense of self-worth – was 100% wrapped up in being a high achiever. Being an inexperienced divemaster and boat captain in the islands meant I had thrust myself into a world of incompetence. My inability to cope with my struggle was almost paralytic.
Gaining esteem via performance is a culture-based problem. And letting go of that hidden script inside is terribly painful. Many of us don’t recognize that this pattern is even there; and that our value-based ego is largely dictating the choices we make that actually lead us astray from the good life
LEARN BALANCE: I was so busy looking for the silver bullet that would change my life, that I failed to see the obvious. A well-played life is a life that’s balanced. It’s a life of your own design where all of your needs are getting met in a delightfully fluid and natural way.
It’s not a destination; it’s the journey.
While someday, I hope that I can have a huge impact on the lives of others, right now I can visit my elderly neighbor across the street every Sunday afternoon. And if we want more time with our kiddos, we need to turn the cell phone off and leave the laptop at the office. Following #1 and #2 above, this decision becomes easy to make. Let someone else fill those big corporate shoes. There are higher priorities right now than being king of the corporate hill.
THE BEST PART
Once I stopped looking outside myself for a solution, true magic happened. My anxiety went away. My frenetic schedule calmed down. My sense of peace and well-being increased. I began looking forward to each day and I began seeing my future as a world of ever-changing possibilities.
And I started making choices that helped me focus on my children, my health, my own well-being, and the community around me along with a compelling, creative career. I was no longer Corporate Kate, I was just Kate: madly in love with my husband, devoted mom of three, outdoor-loving-adventurer, and loyal, honest friend. Woman building an extraordinary life and helping others do the same.
I hope my journey is helpful.
Have a great week and if this article resonates with you, please do me the favor and share!