Last week I posted a guest blog from Amy Duffin, an advocate for working women.  You wanted more, so I emailed her a few questions and as expected, she offered some great answers, some self care ideas, and a great quote to add to your daily self-talk…

Is work life balance really achievable?

I believe a “working balance” is achievable. To me, this does not mean “perfect balance” where we have time to do it all. It means knowing and choosing the important things that we must have, and balancing these with the demands of our careers.  A working balance is constantly managed as our lives and jobs change.  I manage my balance by creating priorities for now, planning for the future and reminding myself that I’m juggling it all the best I can today.

What are the biggest obstacles for women in the workplace?

There are still many obstacles for women in the workplace.  Women continue to trail men in earnings, board seats, business ownership and in leadership roles, even though their education and experience is more on par with men than ever.  However, let me focus on two things I think we can control with tools that can move us forward.

Our Network.  The power of a network is huge. Men work their network constantly and aren’t afraid to ask for a favor to make themselves successful. A strong network can open doors, land jobs, find mentors and even help with things we need in our personal life.  Our network has to be beyond our friendships to be effective.  I find that women often feel challenged to find the time to network.  We can change this paradigm by building a smart network. I target my time on quality networking with people I can help and learn from, knowing they may help me in the future.  Don’t wait until you need the help to build your network.

 Confidence.   Women don’t always have the confidence to take that next job, ask what they can do differently to advance their career, or request the flexibility that they need to be successful at home and at work.  Confidence is built by facing challenges, putting yourself out there in uncomfortable territory, making mistakes and learning from them to get better.  It’s one of the best tools we can put in our work toolbox.

What do you think is the most common misconception of full-time working women?

If there is one misconception in our society that I would like to change, it would be that working women miss out on so much of their children’s’ lives.  Many women are working because it is a necessity for their household, or because they love what they do.  While they cannot be at everything, and certainly do miss out at times, the women I know work incredibly hard to ensure that they are involved or present in everything they can be with their children.  The perception that we are missing out taps into the working mother guilt that pains us at our weakest moments.  Slowly this perception is changing, but we aren’t there yet.

Do you practice self care?

Yes, I absolutely practice self care because I believe it is critical to my happiness and success.  Here are the things that I practice regularly:

“Me Time”:

I have always had a difficult time rationalizing time away my family when I am not working.  When my children were very young, I had to come to terms with the fact that I needed time for me to be better for them and myself.  I try to get an hour or two a weekend in for myself.  It never feels like enough, but it refreshes me and helps to manage my balance.

Sleep:

Sleep is like nutrition, it heals your body and your mind.  I work better, parent better and am a happier person when I have my sleep.  When I get off track with my sleep, I make it a priority to take a nap or get to bed earlier to get refreshed.

Self Talk:

Self talk may sound crazy but it’s not.  I recognize how I am wired and I understand why I am wired the way I am.  The very things that make me good can be the very things that bring me down.   I use self talk as a tool when my mind starts racing to get back on track and focused.  It can be simple reminders or inspiring quotes.  One of my favorites that I use to manage my fears when they arise is a quote by Diane Von Furstenberg “Fear is not an option.”

Contact Amy at workingwomenresources@gmail.com and read her first blog titled Working the Work/Life Balance.