For many women leaders the idea of having a happy and healthy family as well as a successful career feels impossible or, at the very least, incredibly stressful.
As a result, too many women are deciding that having a family means not having a career at all or at least not having the career they really want to have. They leave the table and the conversation long before they have to thinking it’s the only way they can have what they want.
I challenge the idea that it has to be either/or and instead advocate that we embrace a both/and mindset.
If you find yourself wrestling with this question, I believe your answer lies not in asking a yes/no question (can this work for me?) but instead leading with how (how can I make this work for me?). The answer to that question will look different for each person but there are a few things that you will need to do to discover your answer.
The first step in embracing the AND involves you getting really clear on your priorities. You have to decide up front what the non-negotiables are for you and your family. If you have small children, it might be important to you that you are a part of their morning routine. If they are older, being home for dinner every night might be your priority.
Whatever that is, you have to get clear about that part first. You schedule your life around the things that are most important otherwise, what’s most important doesn’t happen. So your first step is to get clarity on your priorities.
Make A Plan
Next you have to put a plan together of what that is going to look like for your family. This will, by necessity, involve having honest conversations with your partner or spouse. Whether you are not yet a mom or you already have a child (or a few children) at home, getting a plan in place is a critical part of this process.
You have to be intentional to set yourself and your family up for success. Make a plan and realize that you will have to revisit that plan frequently to make adjustments. It may time awhile for you to find a rhythm that works for you. You may find that you need to readjust a lot in the beginning but eventually you should only have to revisit your plan every few months.
You will need support to execute your plan. If your budget allows, this might mean hiring help. More than one of my clients has expressed feeling shame when exploring the option of hiring support. The thinking is they “should” be able to do it all and feel a lot of shame when they cannot. Forget what you “should” do and do what you have to do to make your plan work.
If your budget doesn’t make hiring help an option, get creative about what you can do. Barter help with a neighbor or friend. Secure the help of grandparents or other family members. If you start brainstorming, you’ll discover options that you might not have considered before.
Ask for What You Need
Once you’ve got a plan in place and you have your support lined up, the final piece is to ask your employer for what you need. Again, this will involve honest conversations, this time with your boss or manager. Go into the conversation ready to explain the problem AND the solution that you have come up with to make it as workable as possible for everyone involved.
Be prepared to compromise some but remember to hold firm on the parts that are the non-negotiables. If you can present a solution to the problem, I suspect most managers will work with you.
Be Willing to Walk Away
If they are unwilling to work with you, then you have to be willing to walk away. Staying in a job that doesn’t work for your family will only frustrate you and ultimately make you resent being there.
You have to be willing to walk away because walking away creates space in your life for the right opportunity to come in. Walking away doesn’t mean you stay home, it means you are free to explore and find the job that can and will work for you.
I believe that women leaders can write their own rules for success. You don’t have to play the either/or game when it comes to having a family and a career. The current rules of leadership might say you have to choose and I agree you do have to choose but your choice can be both/AND.
From my heart to yours,
If you would like some help figuring out what your both/and could look like, click here to schedule a time for us to talk. Together we’ll discover the right answers for you.