A few weeks ago, Chris Dalton, career coach extraordinaire and frequent contributor to 20something, wrote an article about the truth and myth behind work-life balance which illustrated how work and life have become more of a blend and that there are healthy and attainable ways to make both you and your boss satisfied. As someone who’s successfully taken her own advice, and made a career about it no less, we were dying to absorb every piece of wisdom she was willing to share.
So what are those snippets of wisdom exactly? We sat down with Chris and asked her to share her advice with us.
20Something: So you mentioned this in your article about the work-life balance myth, but let’s break it down. How do you create the life balance you’re looking for?
Chris Dalton: At a simplistic level, it’s important for you to consider what works for you and what doesn’t. What I mean by that is, ask yourself what is your best case scenario for the life you want to have and then start to map it out.
What does mapping it out look like?
CD: Keep it simple. Spend 10 minutes writing out what your ideal week looks like and how you want to be spending your time. If you could break your time out exactly how you want it (and not just the “shoulds”), what would it look like?
This isn’t a schedule you need to strictly stick to, necessarily, but identifying what your dream schedule looks like is a first step. Do you want to work on writing an article every week? Is finding time for your favorite dance class each Tuesday important to you? Figure out what your dream schedule is and then assess how you’re actually spending your time. These are often very different things.
From there, you can make small changes to do more of the stuff you love. Delegating what you can, prioritizing your day by your productivity, and the like. When you’re making conscious decisions about your schedule, you can no longer be the victim of time.
What are those tactical steps to obtain your ideal situation? Are there any small changes we can make?
CD: Determine what boundaries you need to put in place or what habits you need to form to make that “best case scenario” easier to uphold. If you need to start leaving work at a certain time to make it to the workout class you like, or waking up 5 minutes earlier to get your journaling in during the morning, do that. Build your schedule so that you’re less likely to fail. Remember that it’s easy to make the excuse to not stick to a task “this time”, but the best way to create a habit is one day at a time. Begin the practice of respecting your own boundaries and your peers will start respecting them too.
What is the biggest piece of advice for women in the workplace to make these changes happen?
CD: Ask. Start asking for what you need to make your ideal setup possible. If you need to have a conversation with your manager, rip the band-aid. The worst they can say is “No.”
What other words of wisdom can you shed?
CD: There is no need to apologize, and no need to feel like you “should” be doing more of something that you don’t want to do. You’re a strong independent woman who doesn’t need to explain her ideal life to anyone. At least I assume so if you’re reading this. Would Beyonce apologize for doing what she wanted to do with her life?! Didn’t think so. Channel more of the bad babes you know and remember that you can create the life you want.
Chris Dalton is the president and founder of Empowered Achievers