I would like to be a perfect mother, wife, daughter, daughter-in-law, sister, colleague, boss, and also be perfect at my job. Oops!! A lot to ask for. This will resonate with all my women friends. All women aspire to be perfect.
I remember once my son demanding my time to attend his parents-teacher meeting. Nothing new in that since I would attend those always, as they were generally scheduled ahead of time. But this one instance was an unscheduled meeting. It was because my son wanted to take part in the sports camp for which the school authorities wanted the parents to visit the school and signup in person.
I agreed to go for this meeting. As luck would have it, my mom fell sick on the same day and got admitted to the hospital. My father accompanied her, but my conscious and inner voice kept telling me to rush to the hospital. So now I have two things, both important in their own way, happening at the same time. As if this was not enough, I get called from my office. One of my clients had decided to visit us on the same day for signing an important deal. How I wish I could be at all the three places at the same time!!. Was it possible, of course not? The practical me tried to reason but the women in me kept nagging at me and made me feel guilty. I did not want to let down my son, my parents and my company.
There was a burning desire to prove myself. I wanted to have it all
Such situations kept repeating and I would end up feeling stressed. I had a great team in the office, I had a loving & caring life partner and I had supportive parents. But my desire to do it all by myself prevented me from communicating and asking for help.
Those days it never occurred to me to invest time in creating an environment where responsibility can be shared. I had to create a mechanism, which would help me manage such situations.
My attitude of ” let me do it myself ” was proving to be stressful.
My mentor stepped in at the right time. She recommended that I need to ask for help and come to terms with the fact that I cannot do it all. I can balance work life at certain phases of my life, but not always. She encouraged me to make logical decisions and choices every time I hit situations where I thought my presence was necessary. I had to rank and focus on and decide if in a particular situation I wanted to be a wife, daughter, mother or an executive.
Let Go the Control
As women, we tend to over deliver, take on too much, because of the desire to be perfect. But this makes it difficult for us to shift our focus and scale. Hire great talent in office and delegate and empower. Let go the control and I can do it all attitude. At home, share responsibility with your spouse, parents and let them know what you choose to do. If you have the ambition to make a career, and if you love your job, be willing to make a few sacrifices & trade-offs.
No single solution, but learn from experience
Nothing should stop you from being successful if you have the focus and determination. Each of us goes through unique situations, which in our own way we need to face. There is no silver bullet or a single solution that fits all. As women, you will have many roles to play, responsibilities to shoulder, challenges to face , priorities to decide, but giving up on your dreams and ambitions, is not the solution.
Give up the guilt trip
The feeling of guilt would always be present but learn to deal with it. This guilt feeling could be for various reasons. It may not be limited to not spending enough time with the children or leaving them behind. In fact, at times guilt can also be helpful. My guilt monster has had times prodded me to fulfill my obligations and be more social. There are many occasions when I feel guilty. Research has shown that guilt is a women’s trait. So be it, let’s use the good guilt to our advantage and ignore the rest.
In a recent “Women In Leadership” academy that I was leading, some of the successful women executives shared their experience . Each one of them had one thing in common. They had all asked for support, had made trade-offs, made their decisions known to their family. They had not allowed the guilt feeling to sabotage their careers. Shift your thinking from proving yourself to scaling and multiplying your impact
I would encourage you to keep going, don’t let the guilt monster stop you from fulfilling your dream. With collaboration technologies making inroads,it is easier today to integrate work and family life.
I would love to hear your stories and experiences. Write to me or leave your comments. And if you need help in silencing the monster, give me a shout.