During a time when an estimated 70 percent of Americans are unhappy with their work-life balance, professionals across industries are scrambling just to eat right, exercise, breathe and indulge in a little downtime now and again. But work-life balance is so much more than that—especially when life throws you a curveball.
“Let me give you me three years ago,” Know Your Value’s Mika Brzezinski recently shared with Sheila Robinson-Kiss, CEO of Rebalancing America and Beyond, a national platform focused on health and wellness building and education. “A couple of teens, some of them may be getting into some trouble. Parents that are getting ill and going into hospice. Going through a divorce and working crazy hours. Exhausted, dehydrated, walking around town during the time that I usually jog… crying. I had no balance,” Brzezinski said.
Brzezinski, who has found better work-life balance by practicing mindfulness, chatted with Robinson-Kiss to explore the realities many women face when trying to juggle both their careers and family life. “To the woman being pulled from all sides, what do you tell her about getting balance back?,” Brzezinski asked Robinson-Kiss. Here are the takeaways from their discussion:
Ask yourself, what matters most?
The first step is to take a personal inventory and ask yourself what matters most, Robinson-Kiss said. By stopping, taking a breath and realizing what is truly most important to you, you can better prioritize the different areas of your life that need your attention.
“It’s the broken see-saw,” Robinson-Kiss said. “Say 'wait a minute,' stop, get clear. What is the four-alarm fire?” she said. “Do what is in front of you and what matters most.”
Get off the island and get on the train
Many people get overwhelmed during their quest to achieve work-life balance because they view the different areas of their lives as separate islands. “I’ve got my kids over here, I’ve got my marriage over here, I’ve got my work over there,” Robinson-Kiss explained. “You think about traveling back and forth between the islands.”
A better approach is to see each area as a car on your train. “We have many different compartments, many different cars,” Robinson-Kiss said. “Get the priorities straight.”
Let some things go
Remember that you can't be all things to all people, Robinson-Kiss said. “We think we can be super woman, and you can’t.” You have to understand that there are some things you’ll have to let go of, and you shouldn’t feel guilty about that. “You have to be willing to let something go and be OK with the guilt,” Robinson-Kiss said.
Ask for help
Whether it’s talking to your employer, friends or a mental health professional, it’s important to get help when you feel overwhelmed. “Raise your hand,” Robinson-Kiss encouraged. “Let people know that you’re having a hard time.”
Put yourself first
“What I found in the swirl is that I had to worry about me, because I was falling apart,” Brzezinski shared. “I think a lot of women forget that their health and that constant swirl is taking a toll.”
Robinson-Kiss compared the situation to being on an airplane and knowing that you need to put your oxygen mask on first before you can help others. “If you’re not OK, no one is OK,” she said. “You have to be ok first.”
“It is time that we get real and have a real conversation about what is happening to us in this country,” Robinson-Kiss added. “Don’t do it all. We can’t have it all at the same time,” she said.