In my previous post, I told the story of how I got back into consulting after becoming a mom. All of the diverse experiences I had during that journey have helped me to find my work-life balance by…
“Go home,” my first boss said 12 years back — while I was working round the clock. He would stay late when required but always made it a point to try to leave in time to get home for dinner with his family and read stories to his son as he put him to bed. He made it a point to not set unrealistic standards, such as immediately responding to emails during off-hours, being “always on,” coming in super early, and leaving super late — all of which I am guilty of in my early career days. And it’s especially easy to fall into in today’s “work from home” situation when it is even easier to be “always on.”
Being Okay Taking a Break From Your Career When Necessary
I clearly remember my last discussion with the Partner at my first consulting job. He said that his wife, who was once highly ambitious in her career, opted to quit work to be with their kids. He said, “You never know what you will decide. You may never return to work!” I thought to myself, that would never be me! But I did end up leaving — at least temporarily — to raise my daughter, and I am so glad that I did! But, I know that even if I had made the opposite decision, and continued to work, it would still have been okay — as long as I balanced my work life and my family life. And, if it hadn’t worked out, I would have changed things up, focused on next steps, and moved on.
When I first started my e-commerce business, I taught myself to design. Every bad design I made resulted in no sale. It was very discouraging to keep waiting for my first “cha-ching,” but it pushed me to do better, watch and learn what sells, and improvise on my design skills. I was consistent and resilient each and every day, even if it meant just one hour per day. Success followed, and when it didn’t, I tried a different approach, rinsed, and repeated. I analyzed my sales, looked for patterns — what sold most, what didn’t sell at all — and improvised and branched out on my bestsellers.
Not Compromising on What’s Most Important
When I was ready to get back to work and start interviewing, I knew I needed to find a role that had the right mix of being able to do the work that I enjoyed and continuing to be able to spend quality time with my family. I needed to be patient with every interview, and treat it as a stepping stone towards my goal, and not compromise just because I was eager to get back to work. This was critical because, if I hadn’t set these boundaries, I would have burned out yet again.
Taking a Chance and Being Retrospective
Above all, I wasn’t afraid to take a chance to try new things, to start a new business idea, to pursue what I was passionate about, to retrospect often on what I could do better, and to learn and grow from those experiences.
I know that I will continue building on this perspective, so 10 years down the line, I may have a different set of rules, boundaries, and definition of balance. But, the knowledge I gain every day will stay with me and will apply somewhere, to some situation, one day or the other, or maybe even right now. But no matter what I find, I know that balance will always be key.