to Balance Your Career and Your Family
So Both Are Rewarding and Enjoyable
by Debra Pestrak
challenge many people face is how to balance time with their family,
friends, and career. While they want a happy and fulfilling life outside
of the office, they know they must make some personal sacrifices in
order to achieve their career aspirations.
do you balance those sacrifices so they don’t greatly interfere
with your personal goals? How do you fit roles such as husband, wife,
mother, and father into your already hectic schedule? Since time is
precious, keeping a balance between the two worlds is often a challenge.
with proper planning, balancing work and family is a challenge that
can be overcome. Recently, several Fortune 500® corporate executives
revealed their balancing strategy. They’re proof that it is
possible to have not only a successful career, but also a rewarding
and enjoyable personal life as well.
Set Your Priorities Early
The first step to achieving balance is to get your family to agree
on what the priorities should be. Realize that business success often
requires long hours and sometimes travel. In these instances, support
from your family has to be there. Additionally, when children are
involved, many people discover that they have to re-balance their
lives so they have time to spend with the kids.
Ellen Hancock, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Exodus Communication,
describes both her personal and professional life as successful, but
not necessarily balanced. However, this situation worked for her because
she had the buy-in of each family member. As she explains, “There
are sacrifices. But your friends and family, your spouse, your parents,
all do have to support the situation and have an understanding that
yes, this is important and so are friends and family.” Hancock
goes on to explain that her schedule did not always allow her to be
as available as others, but she managed to do what it took to keep
Hancock, like many others,
made the decision that family was indeed a top priority. As such,
they strove for new ways to carve out family time each day. They were
aware of the fact that no one ever says at the end of their life,
“I wish I had spent more time at work.”
Jean Hamilton, Chief Executive
Office, Prudential Institutional, used some of her business practices
to make time for family. She says, “There are several kinds
of sacrifices that I have found to be the hardest. One is that the
time I have to spend with my family and friends is not what I would
want it to be. That’s why I began to focus on ways to be more
efficient with my personal time. In fact, I began applying some of
the efficiency tools that I learned from business. I started to get
very aggressive about scheduling time with friends and family. It
all goes on my calendar. That’s the way I have to deal with
things in business, so I did the same outside of the office. Using
those kinds of tools helps me minimize the sacrifices.”
Consider What Is Right for You
When placed in identical situations, no two people will make the
same choices. Each person has to evaluate the event and then make
a decision based on what is right for him or her at the moment. Just
because an outcome worked for one person, doesn’t necessarily
mean it will work for another.
Everyone has to prioritize
their own lives and decide what is most important to them. Where do
you want to spend your time and energy? How important is your career
in the scheme of your life? How do you define success?
Mary Farrell, Managing Director,
Senior Investment Strategist and Member of the Policy Committee for
PaineWebber, Inc., made a decision that she would not be available
for global travel. That affected her career, and she understood that.
She didn’t expect to not be competitive across the board and
that it would be overlooked. Many others in her position would not
have made such a drastic decision, but Farrell made the best choice
based on her values.
Every day we hear of increasing
numbers of people who reach the pinnacle of their careers and decide
it’s time for another stage in their lives. They quit their
jobs, start a family, change careers, or take an extended leave. Others
start businesses out of their home so they can be with their family.
What is right for one person is not always right for another. Only
you can do what is right for you, your family, and your goals.
Deciding early in your career
what is most important will help guide your career. Some companies
are reluctant to support a person’s career advancement if they
donít know the person’s goals—both personal and professional.
Therefore, once you know what you want, communicate it to your management
and get its support. If the company will not support your personal
goals as well as your professional ones, then it’s time to evaluate
whether or not this is a company you want to be working for.
Farrell searched long and
hard for a company that would support her career and personal aspirations.
She reveals, “I actually worked at several firms before I landed
at a firm that was open to the kind of flexibility I needed. That
was not an accident. That was part of my career goals, and I was very
fortunate because I worked for someone who was very bottom-line oriented.
As long as the work was done, my boss didn’t care if I went
to the school play, and I managed to make it to a lot of them. It
took a lot out of me to make up work at the end of the day, but of
course, it was very important to me to be able to do that. You can’t
always, but when you set your priorities and look at the big picture,
it’s a lot easier to fit it all in place.”
Balance Points to Consider
Before you make any drastic changes to your personal
or professional life, consider the implications of each decision and
how you plan to integrate the decision into your current schedule.
For example, what effect will having children have on your life? On
the time you have to spend with other family members and friends?
Also, think about how much time you would want to take off when you
have a child. Do you want to come back to work full-time? What support
system exists that can help you? Will you need to leave work at 5:00?
If so, will that allow you to get the work done? If not, are you willing
to take it home and do it there? Can you? How much control do you
have over your workload? Do you have access to technology at home?
Different jobs have different
requirements. Farrell found that by moving to research she was better
able to achieve her goals. What about your current position? Study
your field to see if it meets your future goals and aspirations. If
not, it may be time to consider a change. However, whatever you do,
be realistic about what career choices you make based on your values
What’s Your Balancing Decision
We all make sacrifices to get what we want. Most of
the top executives do not sleep eight hours. They have either decided
that getting the work done is more important or they don’t
need that much sleep. Many of them work on weekends or at least
attend to their in-basket, emails, or voicemails then. This is a
choice they make to have what they want. You may not want to make
it to the very top, but think about where you want to go and what
it will take to get there. What choices and sacrifices do you need
to make today to achieve your goals tomorrow?
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GETTING WHAT YOU WANT IN LIFE
REQUIRES A PRICE
Whatever you want in life,
you must give up something
to get it.
The greater the value, the greater the sacrifice required.
Everything has a price.
There’s a price to pay if you
want to make things better,
a price to pay for just leaving things they way they are.
Nothing worthwhile comes easily.
Continuous hard work is the only way to accomplish results that
You’ll find there is no success
at bargain basement prices.
Just as everything else in life, you get what you pay for.
Great Quotations from Great Women
“We pay a price when we deprive
children of the exposure to the values, principles and
education they need to make them good citizens.”
— Sandra Day O’Connor
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Debra Pestrak has developed
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career. Contact her at 888- SUN-3777 for more information on this
the Most Powerful Women Success Traits
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Debra Pestrak is a peak performance
expert, an award-winning motivational speaker, and author of Playing
with the Big Boys: Success Secrets of the Most Powerful Women in Business
and Playing with the Big Boys & Girls in Real Estate.
Debra is founder and CEO of Success Unleashed, Inc.®, a company
dedicated to developing powerful programs that impact the way people
think and work. Pestrak was a player in corporate America for 26 years,
working her way up the ranks from a telephone operator to managing
a $20 million budget. She also has instituted and led sales organizations,
and is the past president of the National Speakers Association –
San Diego. To discover more performance advice, contact the author
at 888 SUN-3777.
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