Chasing Balance

We all know the importance of “work/life balance,” but can you think of a single person who has it? As a working mother, I find myself feeling like a failure most of the time. If a work meeting takes me away from my son’s baseball game: #MOMFAIL.

If my daughter’s field trip makes me unavailable for a new client consultation: #WORKFAIL. Sometimes a much needed night out with my girlfriends leads to a tearful goodbye from my toddler who I can’t tuck into bed: #MOMFAIL. 

Date night with my husband? 

What is that?! #WIFEFAIL. 

The ugly truth is we can’t have it all. 

For every “yes” there comes a “no.” Navigating those decisions is not easy. 

Can you have a successful career and a happy home life?

Yes, but there will be a price to pay. I am a fierce, protective mama bear when it comes to my four children. They come first. Period.

I don’t always apply the same level of commitment to my marriage, friendships, business, health, and philanthropic ventures – that wouldn’t be possible –  but I do my best to make room for all of the above. It all comes down to how I manage my time.

When I work with executive coaching clients, we spend a whole lot of time talking about TIME!

Reclaiming control of my calendar has completely revolutionized my abilities to say “yes” more confidently. My calendar is color coded based on family activities, work activities, and personal events.

I also have an online scheduling tool where clients can add themselves into my schedule based on the availability I have predetermined to open for meetings.

It’s complicated, but I am not exaggerating when I tell you it has changed my life!

Before we get to the details of what makes the cut on the calendar, I walk my clients through several exercises in exploring their personal values.

Your values should be informing your decisions for organizing your schedule. Do you want to attend church on Sunday?

Put it on the calendar. Do you want to get to yoga 3x per week? Put it on the calendar.

Your time is your most valuable – and most limited – resource. You should guard it with your life. 

After you have identified your values, it’s a good practice to block your time in order of importance.

For example, I am not available for client meetings after 3pm because I want to remain available to pick my children up from school and be involved in their after school activities.

I also block out Sundays, with the exception of the time I set aside from 3-5pm to review my calendar and prepare for any upcoming client meetings. I also build in time to workout, prep meals, and respond to emails each morning.

If it’s important, it needs to take priority on my schedule.

Many of us are so consumed with the urgent demands of the present moment that we cannot objectively step away to assess if we are using our time wisely.

We are so “connected” and available to competing demands of other people that we find ourselves disconnected from our values and the people who matter most to us. It takes time to proactively set your schedule, but it will save you time + energy in the long run.

Susan David, Ph.D created these questions to reconnect with your deepest self.

When making a decision that will impact your schedule, think about asking these 3 questions:

  1. What does the child inside me need?

  2. What do I need right now? 

  3. What does my future self need? 

If you are truly living out your values throughout the week, you will see immediate results in your work/life balance and overall life satisfaction.

When our lives (and our calendars) are in conflict with our values, we begin to feel dissatisfied and detached from our deepest self. This is where burnout happens.

Technology has given us some incredible tools to be more effective, but if you aren’t managing it – it’s managing you. 

I like to make technology work for me, and not the other way around. In order to make sure you are managing it and it’s not managing you, think about how much time is being wasted on email subscriptions and social media notifications.

Is your focus and attention being hijacked by the ping of your phone or watch throughout the day?

Disable those notifications or delete the app altogether.

If that’s too extreme, try limiting your social media time to your morning or afternoon coffee break, but do not allow yourself to be tethered to it all throughout the day.

Don’t be the dog on the leash, be the master.

Lastly, I believe balance is a myth – a unicorn.

When you are pursuing your passions and your values, sometimes this will get out of whack. That’s expected!

When your career is launching, relaunching, or growing, it will require more hours and possibly more time away from your other priorities. That’s expected.

When your babies are little, your career may move to the backburner. That’s expected!

Despite how it feels, your career will not die if you take some time to love your family.

In my experience, motherhood only gave me new skills and made me more attuned to the needs of others.

My career didn’t follow the trajectory I planned, it got so much better!

Need a little support?

I have developed a FREE WORKBOOK that helps my clients identify their values and helps them identify new goals.

If you are struggling with balance and time management, I’d love to hear from you!

Click here to download the workbook.

You can also book a complimentary session with me here if you could use some additional support mastering your life. 

About    —————————————————

I’m Dr. Tess Breen


Equipping leaders to transform their organizations.

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