Doyenne’s Discuss… The Balancing Act

Alice Cadfan-Lewis, Founding Member and Founder of Block Recruit, writes about one of the most important issues facing women today; how to find balance! The balancing act women face in the 21st century is very real and can impact health, fertility and weight. Alice discusses her own personal challenges and gives her 5 top tips to achieve more balance. Authored by Alice Cadfan-Lewis.

A woman in the 21st century has many plates to spin.

We don’t have to choose any more. We can have a career and a family (which I personally thank the wonderful suffragettes for on a regular basis!) or a career or a family. There’s no right answer but gosh I wouldn’t have made a good full-time house wife. Having tried it for a few months after my son was born I know how hard it is! I mean at least when you go to work you get the chance to sit down with a cup of coffee. That’s hot. Trust me whilst at home with children you might sit down with a cup of coffee but it’ll undoubtedly go cold at least four times whilst you answer the ever reverberating yell of ‘mmmmuuummmmmmyyyy’.

An increasing number of us are doing both, either by choice or circumstance. And I’ve realised that women are great at running a family/ home and being business women, but I’m not sure all of us have quite mastered the act of doing both without putting our health at risk. I mean I’m sitting here writing this at 4.30am because I’m not sure where I’ll fit it in between the morning routine with child and school run, prioritising a to do list of epic proportions, dealing with the never-ending inbox, inevitable meetings, back to the school run, cooking dinner, the bedtime routine, oh and wanting to take part in #leaseholdhour on twitter on a Tuesday night and having to choose between attending the RESI Conference and missing my child’s first day of school. Just typing that sentence has stressed me out…

And it’s not only women juggling family and a career who’re experiencing this overwhelming work load and high expectations. It’s hugely common in young professionals too. Yes, we can have it all, but we also need to set realistic expectations for ourselves and stop telling ourselves we aren’t enough the way we are: we aren’t tall enough, slim enough, pretty enough or brainy enough so we spend our lives trying to please everyone in our realm, putting their needs ahead of our own. According to Dr Libby Weaver “we rush around and do all we can to make sure that others love and appreciate us so that we never, ever have to feel rejected, ostracised, criticised, yelled at, and like we’ve let others down”. There’s a medical name for this called “Rushing Woman’s Syndrome” and taken to the extreme it can impact weight, fertility, self-esteem and stress levels.

So here are my top 5 tips for avoiding these common pitfalls and achieving more balance:

Set realistic goals: A comprehensive to do list is great, but be realistic, what can you achieve in the time you have? This is where you must get used to and feel comfortable saying NO. Always saying yes to people is a common mistake in women. Yes, we want to help and please people, but is it worth it, if it impacts your happiness and health? Our very own Emma Blaney can help you with being more Productive, head over to Productive Property People

Work out what is important to you, what truly makes you happy: Is it being able to always work late and at weekends because you can keep your inbox at an acceptable level or is it that you want to be there for important family occasions or go to an extra gym class? Once again there’s no right or wrong answer, it’s what is right for you. Remember though we all need time to relax and let the mind rest or we run the risk of burnout and a slower productivity rate.

Support: Having a supportive network of people around you is a must, this includes family, industry peers and a company that understands and shares common values with you. So, if you do have an important personal occasion you don’t want to miss, your employer will sympathise that moving an AGM to a date that works for both your client and you is ok.

Patience: We live in a world where everyone expects things done yesterday. Yes it’s good to get things done quickly but is that realistic with your current workload and various other commitments. Can you do the job well if you have to rush it? In my experience if you set your client’s expectations realistically and deliver on your promises regularly, they will respect you long term over someone that says yes I can do it today, but doesn’t deliver tomorrow.

Knowing when to quit: I think everyone has had that client who you just can’t please. You’ve felt challenged, you’ve approached working in a different way and learnt from it, but after all’s said and done it’s still not working. Sometimes it’s best to re-evaluate – could your time be better spent elsewhere? These situations can impact our self-confidence, stress levels, sleep and how we react to others around us.

I would love to hear if you have any tips to share, so please comment. My struggle continues for a good work/life balance, so have peace of mind that you’re not alone!

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