Women who successfully blend work and life have a healthy dose of what I call “Vitamin C” or Confidence. They know that no area of your life will ever be perfect for a sustained period of time—and that it is possible to blend work and life without feeling like you’re shortchanging your job or your family. If you’re not feeling the same level of confidence, summer is a good time to take stock and figure out changes you can make to get to a more comfortable place.
In my coaching practice, there are many concerns I hear again and again—key things that can shake a women’s confidence as she tries to blend work and life. These concerns fall into several categories:
- Feeling stuck in a job that is inflexible, unfulfilling or seems to lead nowhere
- Feeling unprepared or unqualified to make a needed career change
- Feeling hesitant to speak up for a raise, promotion or flexible work structure
- Feeling overwhelmed by “two jobs”—work and family
- Feeling guilty about time away from home and unconvinced that the salary generated is “worth it”.
Which concerns are foremost—or in the back of—your mind? Sometimes in the rush to get through all the work and family responsibilities—and during stressful times when you are just trying to “keep it all together”—it’s easier not to identify or address concerns. To see what might be shaking your work+life confidence, answer “true” or “false” to the the statements below that apply to you:
- At this moment and for at least the next couple of years I feel that my work is a good fit for my life.
- I am proactive about learning new things and seeking out professional challenges.
- I have pride in my work and feel that my colleagues recognize and appreciate my contributions.
- Using my own style and approach, I am not afraid to speak up about my fit for a new role or responsibility—or a desired raise in compensation.
- I find fulfillment both at work and at home and I know that I will not ever achieve perfect “balance”.
- I have a strong support system at home—through paid child care, housekeeping, etc., shared responsibilities with my spouse and children, or the help of nearby family and friends.
- I do not feel the weight of the world on my shoulders, thinking that I’m carrying most of the load at the office or at home.
- Despite busy weeks and seemingly endless days, I always find ways to carve out a little “me” time—even if it’s just reading a book or taking a walk.
- When I decide that I need/want to adjust my career path, I know there are many ways I can apply my skill set and experience to other positions or entrepreneurial ventures.
- I realize that women choose different work+life paths, and I do not feel guilty or defensive when I’m in a room with a group of stay-at-home mothers.
- If I find that I want or need to work less than full-time hours, I believe that my boss would seriously consider a professional proposal for flexibility.
- I have strong “give and take” relationships with my colleagues, and we are willing to cover for each other as personal issues arise.
- I have a strong network of personal and professional connections who I can call on for professional advice, direction or references.
- I believe my work makes an important contribution to my own and my family’s current and long-term financial security.
- I talk openly about my professional work and passions with my children and believe I am a positive role model.
In my experience, women who feel that many of these statements are NOT true often have one foot on the off ramp (whether they now realize it or not). Rather than addressing simmering concerns, they let them reach a boiling point. The easiest answer to reduce overall stress always seems to be to leave their jobs—as well as their paychecks and valuable employee benefits. Though none of these situations can be remedied overnight, acknowledging that things are not quite right can be the first step toward finding solutions, increased work+life confidence, and uninterrupted progress toward long-term financial security. —KAS
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