October 18, 2012

Ten Words of Wisdom for Balancing Work and Life (With a lot of help from my friends)

SWIM was proud to host Janis Fratamico, director of client experience for the IBM global network of client centers, as part of the annual speaker series, where she shared her candid perspective on:

  • Balancing work and life, particularly in the more demanding occupations like consulting
  • Managing your career aspirations with your life plans
  • Expectations and reality checks when it all needs to be juggled

Below are 10 tips she left us with as we look for ways to balance work and life:

Top Ten Words of Wisdom for Balancing Work and Life (With a lot of help from my friends) – advice we would have given ourselves back when….

1. Settle. – understand perfection is impossible. Embrace the messy house, the unmatched kids, and the less than perfect work product. You will miss things – work things and family things. No one will notice any of it as much as you. Be comfortable with imperfection. The first time your kid does something horrifying or you get a note from the school about your little angel, you’ll realize you don’t have a choice. Forgive yourself. You will scream at your kids, be late to an important meeting, show up unprepared and miss a birthday. It’s endearing. As Woody Allen said, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans.”
2. It takes a Village. Hillary, and before her, the African tribe who originated the saying, was right. And trust me, as much as the media and others would like to drum up a conflict, there is none. Non-working women do not judge working moms and they are there for support. Ask for help and you shall receive. Pay it forward to another woman who may need your help. We are all sisters and we are all in this together.
3. Write the check. Outsource and let go of control. As it was quoted to me from a Facebook friend, “Vacuuming is never a good use of my time.” Treat your baby-sitters well so you get first dibs and always pack lunch the night before.
4. It’s personal. – Do what is right for YOU. Don’t be peer-pressured, persuaded or preached to by others (and ignore your mother). Nothing is more personal than this. It’s about you, your family, your aspirations and what makes you comfortable.
5. Opportunities knock. A lot. If the right choice for you is to take a break from work, take a leave, switch careers – I promise you – you will not lose anything as a result. Too many examples prove otherwise.
6. LOVE your job. It makes balancing it all so much easier. By the way, love your husband and kids too. That makes all the pain of managing it worth it because both are fulfilling.
7. You are #1. This may sound selfish, but know what is important to you and don’t deprive yourself. I never miss a nail appointment, a workout or girlfriend time and my date night with my hubby is sacred. Never feel resentful. That stuff is more important to me than a homemade dinner or a clean house. Wear lipstick and mascara. You need to feel pretty.
8. If you are getting it done, it doesn’t matter where you are. Technology can be a blessing or a curse, use it for the good part. OK, you might miss the fly ball your kid caught, but if you are able to Blackberry a report to your boss, you get credit for both and you can fake the fact that you missed the catch. On the other hand, shopping for school clothes and a hot pair of new boots for yourself couldn’t be easier while listening to a conference call. Thank heaven for Zappos – free shipping!!
9. The Grass is SOMETIMES greener. I have friends who post or talk about shopping and tennis and lunches and I hate them a little. But trust me, I bet they are hating me for something too. If not, I like imagining that they do and that’s good enough. Also, see #3, those are the people I call on for help!
10. It’s a choice. And if that choice is the wrong one, make a different choice. Then make peace with the choice you’ve made. Remember: No One Is Keeping Score.

Advice from Lena, age 9: spend nights and weekends with your kids and try to make the most of it. Make that time special. And if your kids play sports, try to make as many of those games as possible.

Advice from Joely, age 7: If you are away, Facetime or Skype them.