4 Mental Strategies To Balance a Successful Career & Fulfilling Personal Life

4 Mental Strategies To Balance a Successful Career & Fulfilling Personal Life

Kathleen Byars | March 4, 2018

When I first began working internationally, I was elated. It was my dream to become an international business executive and travel the globe.

I loved my work, I loved going to new places, and I loved being part of something bigger than the USA.

As I roamed the world, I found that over time my delight was somewhat dimmed. For as much as I loved to experience new places, I was doing so alone.

It’s not that I didn’t have amazing colleagues to hang out with or friends to see, it’s just that I didn’t have anyone special share the adventure. I felt alive when I traveled and I wanted to experience this feeling with a partner.

My schedule was so hectic that I rarely found time to date. And my career success was intimidating to most of the men I met. Of course, they said that my success didn’t matter, but it always did.

My father used to ask me almost weekly, “When are you going to get married?”


My sister was faithfully married at the age of 21. My father and mother had enjoyed a 25-year marriage before my mother’s death.

Guess who stayed single?

  • My 30th birthday came and went.
  • My step-siblings found partners and married.
  • My first house was much larger than what I needed, yet I purchased it thinking I would someday “grow into it” when I found a spouse.
  • I even purchased an extra Christmas stocking for my would-be husband. It hung empty year after year.

As my professional life skyrocketed, my personal life was stalled. I was lonely and felt like a failure without someone to share my life.

I tried a lot of things to right-size my life.

I took up running and hired a former SMU-football coach as my personal trainer. I learned to lift weights and built enviably toned arms.

I outsourced chores and tasks to make better use of my time. I hired a housekeeper, a landscaper, a dog walker, a personal shopper, and a private driver; (I also had an amazing executive assistant at the office).

I said “no” to invitations and demands on my time that I deemed non-essential.

I evaluated job opportunity after job opportunity thinking I simply needed a career change.

I took up scuba diving, volunteered at the opera, and nurtured relationships with a few, close girlfriends.

I thought I was making the best use of my limited time.

I didn’t get it.

A balanced life isn’t about MORE TIME.

It’s what you do with that time. And while SOME of the things I was doing with my time felt pretty good, I was still off kilter.

I thought I was making smart choices, yet a calm, thriving life alluded me.

I was still lonely. I was still working more than necessary. And I was still stressed and anxious A LOT.

I didn’t know how to quiet my mind.

I didn’t know how to invest in myself.

I didn’t know that I was playing small. I thought I was playing big.

And I had no idea that the answer to my discontent lie within me.

I didn’t need more time. I needed a new relationship with my career and myself.

I was running around trying a bunch of “stuff,” but I wasn’t creating change….I was just doing more stuff.

What I learned is that I had to rewire my belief of what’s possible and recalibrate the ingrained behaviors and habits that stood in my way.

I would love to tell you that once I understood this, it was easy. It wasn’t.

And it’s damn scary to look in the mirror and let go of the beliefs and habits embedded since childhood.

  1. I rewired my belief that work had to come first and life second. Instead, I learned to meet my human needs and give those needs that required attention my focus at any given time. Sometimes that meant work. Sometimes that meant play. And sometimes that meant caring for others.
  2. I rebuilt my belief that success requires sacrifice and I learned that those at the highest echelons of success can create an abundance of time to live `a fulfilling personal life.
  3. I learned that a balanced life isn’t about having equal time to do all the things I wanted. A deeply balanced life comes from meeting your needs using the most effective strategies available to you at any given time and knowing when you need to stop meeting one need and favor another.
  4. And I learned that I was flying without a compass. I had no idea about my intrinsic purpose or how to leverage my “Why” across my life. I subscribed to society’s ideal of success and I wasn’t living in alignment with my own values.

Once I learned these shifts my life irrevocably changed for the better.

I didn’t have to simplify or give up what I loved.

I didn’t have to be poor to be happy.

I didn’t have to give up my career.

And guess what?

As I began this journey of evolving myself…

I met and married a fascinating man (and he didn’t care two winks about my salary or career success).

I started doing some of the best work of my career.

I gave birth to two, sweet-natured boys and became present in the little moments of their lives each day.

I lost weight and stopped stress eating.

I slept soundly at night.

I began reading again and returned to my long-lost passion for dance.

And instead of living a life that was dim, I began living in full color.

Today, I am traveling the world once again. Yet, this time I am not alone. My family is right alongside me.



I teach female executives and high-achieving women how to create balance in their life without sacrificing success. If this resonates with you, feel free to watch this free presentation on how it’s done.

Note: once you register, a replay link will be sent to you if you cannot attend at the current time.

Is Taking A Vacation More Stressful Than It’s Worth?

Is Taking A Vacation More Stressful Than It's Worth?

Kathleen Byars | November 14, 2017

Back in 2000, I was a frequent flier. I clocked enough miles each year that my favored airline, British Airlines, awarded me a first-class trip anywhere in the world BA serviced.

I chose Hawaii. Maui to be exact.

As an international marketer, I frequented countries all across Europe, Asia, and the former Soviet Union.

An archipelago of extinct volcanoes seemed to be just the reprieve necessary for a stressed-out, overworked, and “always-on” executive.

Sleeping on a beach immune to the constant din of emails, conference calls, and multi-lingual presentations sounded absolutely sublime.

I set my departure date for Thanksgiving week in order to minimize the impact on my work schedule.

In corporate America, the only thing worse than not having time off, is, well, actually taking time off.

To manage the impending “vacation-inbox-multiplier” that typically accompanied most time away from the office, I decided Thanksgiving week would be slightly less chaotic, even if half of my team didn’t celebrate this particular holiday.

I booked the trip in August.

By September, I should have been beachwear shopping. I put it off another month.

By October, I should have called the dog sitter and confirmed the dates. I delayed.

By November, I should have arranged for the house sitter and held the mail. I never did.

The Monday of Thanksgiving week, I was not headed to Hawaii. As British Airways took off from DFW airport with what I am sure was a very full flight, I was not on board.

I was sitting on the floor of my TV room, dressed in pajamas, petting my dog.

I was simply too exhausted to get on that plane.

Can you relate?

I didn’t care about ancient volcanoes. I didn’t care about 5-star resort hotels. I didn’t even care about the thousands of dollars of free travel I had just flushed down the drain.

I missed my home, I missed my dog, I missed my daughter. I didn’t want to fly. I wanted to sleep.

So that’s what I did.

I spent the entire first day in my PJs watching TV.

The next day, I went grocery shopping without feeling rushed.

Every morning I walked my dog without checking my wristwatch or worrying I was late.

I baked pumpkin pies and sugar cookies and curled up with my daughter on the couch watching old movies way past bedtime.

I was sick and tired of being sick and tired and for one glorious week, I had a reprieve from the stressed out life I was living.

I wish back then I had known that I was burning myself out.

I thought I had to keep up this breakneck speed in order to survive at work. I thought my company required my absolute commitment. I thought if I kept pushing harder and harder, I would eventually “arrive” and be able to relax and sit down.

I bought into the Corporate America myth because I thought that’s what I had to do to be a success.

I didn’t understand that I could be ambitious and successful AND live a calm, comfortable life that where I could connect deeply with my children, enjoy quality time with my spouse, and most of all care for myself and my own needs.

I thought a trade-off was required and I was scared to death that if I let up off the gas in my career, I would have to give up everything I worked so hard for.

I was wrong.

And once I made the decision that a successful career and a calm, carefree life were POSSIBLE… I started to make it so.

It was a hell of a lot easier than I thought.

Once I made my mind up, the rest was learning how to get out of my own way. Quiet my mind. Turn off the stress and worry. And learn how to manage my career in such a way that I delivered powerful value at the office without having to give up space and time I wanted for myself and my family.

Do you know what I mean?

So aloha from Hawaii! Thanks as always for allowing me to share the journey.

And remember…anything is possible. You can’t have it all…but you can have what you want!

Why Your Perfect-On-Paper Life No Longer Feels Perfect

Why Your Perfect-on-Paper Life No Longer Feels Perfect

Kathleen Byars | September 26, 2017

Ten years into my career I had a “perfect-on-paper” life.

* International marketing executive

* Single mom to a beautiful, healthy, vivacious daughter

* Spacious house and people to help me care for it

* Salary and savings that allowed me to spend as I wished

* Family that loved me and friends who supported me

Yet, deep inside I was unhappy.

I didn’t know why…

I SHOULD have been grateful…

I SHOULD have been ecstatic…

I SHOULD have appreciated that I had MORE than what most people will ever have

Yet, I couldn’t shake my discontent.

Every morning it became harder and harder to get out of bed…

Every evening I went to bed earlier and earlier and slept restlessly all night long…

** At work, I was distracted and becoming resentful…

** At home, I was distracted and guilty for not tuning into my daughter and beautiful life…

I FINALLY went to see a psychologist for answers

I told her my beautiful life was similar to summiting the top of a mountain…

You work so hard to get there…

Years of preparation in fact…

You hone your skills, keep your head down through the challenges, and finally arrive at the peak…

Yet, instead of looking out over a stunning landscape, there is cloud cover blocking your view…

You get a glimpse at the beauty before you, yet the clouds create a blind spot that doesn’t allow you to fully bask in the moment…

You want to smell the fresh air, yet you smell nothing…

You want to feel the warm sun on your face, yet you feel nothing…

You want to jump up and down for joy that you have finally arrived, yet you feel devoid of emotion and simply tired…

My psychologist nodded her head in compassion. She told me to practice gratitude. She told me my life was fine and fed into all the cultural myths that chided me for not being content.

I trucked along in this unhappy haze for a few more years.

Then I pulled the ripcord and moved to an island.

And started realizing the problem wasn’t my life, my job, the psychologist, my boss, my company, or anything else external to me.

The answer to a fulfilling life…

To a life that was calm and content…

To a lifestyle that I could live with confidence, anticipation, and abundance…

Was lying there all along right before me.

I HAD THE POWER to move those clouds out of the way all along. I didn’t know it.

And either does most corporate women…

Who are doing what they think they should in order to “have it all”

And instead, professional women are stacking more and more pressure on themselves as they grow disconnected from their lives, their family, and themselves.

Just like I did.

One of the more powerful OUTCOMES we see in our coaching program, Corporate Women Unleashed, is the transformation of a woman from discontent and disconnected…to alive and excited about the redesigned life she’s created.

Every woman begins to recognize an amazing power resides within her that is different than the power she channels at the office…or with her family…it’s a power she has that serves herself.

And once that power is rediscovered, a woman can not only blow away those clouds that limit happiness…she can move the entire mountain all by herself.

The secret to a balanced life never resides on the outside. The secret to a life that is alive and thriving and fulfilling lies within every woman. It’s inside of YOU right now. Can you feel it?

Can You Succeed By Doing Less?

Can You Succeed by Doing Less? Ask a Sloth...

Kathleen Byars | August 19, 2017
I’ve written a post today inspired by an article my husband came across just yesterday.
The article is about sloths.
I’ll link to it below, but here’s the gist…
People are going bananas for sloths. So much so that they’re lining up for hours to admire them in local zoos. The reason?
Sloths are the antithesis of a harried, hectic lifestyle.
And in a world obsessed with “success is more”…sloths offer a momentary reprieve from lives gone awry with anxiety and stress.
When visitors first see the sloth up close many will burst into tears.
Why the emotion?
Years of running on work-life treadmills…lives pushing toward success…yet somehow never quite arriving, no?
Sloths take up to 20 minutes to eat a single green bean.
Do you remember the last time you even chewed your food? Or what you ate last night?
Hopefully so, yet for many people, that’s not the case.
Day after day of frenetic sameness pervades the average life.
Alarm clocks meld into commutes that meld into office meetings that meld into emails that meld into traffic jams and airline flights that meld into takeout dinners, a few minutes of kid time, a quick shower, more emails and then bed.
Only to get up again the next day and do it all over again.
Geez. No wonder sloths have such strong appeal!
Do you know what I mean?
If you’re experiencing the harried life, do you mind if I ask why? I mean, I totally get it…I once did the same.
Yet, it doesn’t have to be that way.
Believe it or not, red pills are available for those interested in redefining success on your own terms.
Sloths aren’t the only ones who can enjoy the good life you know…
Hope your week ahead is languid, relaxing, and slow…

Bucket List Challenge!

Bucket List Challenge!

Kathleen Byars | July 9, 2017
I took my two boys to our local science museum this past week. I love it there.
Whoever came up with the idea for hands-on museums deserves the Parenting Nobel Peace Prize.
Any educational facility that can charm and delight to active boys for hours as they peek under, gaze into, experiment with, and skip for joy instantly deserves first prize.
Love it!
At the museum, we wandered through the butterfly exhibit, which includes a hallway dedicated to the Monarch butterfly migration.
And experiencing the migration has been on my bucket list for years.
So I asked my husband to schedule a trip for us this year to go see it. Bucket list CHECK!
And this got me thinking that it would be delightful to challenge all of my readers to a bucket list challenge.
If you’re game – (and I know you are) – then leave a comment below!
Pick THREE items from your bucket list and put these into action.
  • 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.)
Let’s start living our lives TODAY, eh? Can’t WAIT to see what you decide to post!

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 Ladder

The Myth that Keeps Working Moms Clinging to the Corporate Ladder

Kathleen 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.

Kathleen Garrett Byars with her daughter 1990s

Pic of my daughter and me circa 1990’s as we prepare for another day of work and school.

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!