The ‘Work-Life Balance’ Myth: Why It’s OK To Not Do It All

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Women are often expected to do it all — we’re expected to be high performers at work, while also maintaining the household and being primary caregivers. In this “Financially Savvy Female” column, we’re chatting with female executives, entrepreneurs and career experts to get their insights on why “work-life balance” isn’t always so clear-cut and why it’s OK to not do it all.

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Aleasa Word, Leadership Effectiveness and Mindset Coach at A. Word & Company

“It is possible to have it all; however, you may not have it all at the same time! It is important for women to know that having it all looks different for everyone. We compare ourselves when the representations we see constantly in print/media/online and even in our communities sometimes give us a false sense of reality. We are all juggling in this life — just know that my juggle and your juggle are not always going to be the same. If you can go to sleep at night and feel accomplished, as well as peaceful about doing your very best that day despite what didn’t go well, you are doing pretty darn good. Focus on the things that matter most and just do your best. Balance will change throughout your lifetime and what was important today may not be as much of a priority tomorrow due to the ever-evolving thing called life stages. Give yourself grace, ladies!”

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Christina Kumar, International Partner at World Business Angels Investment Forum

“I believe it is possible to have a work-life balance, just not all the time. Also, having a work-life balance means different things to everyone. For me, it means prioritizing my relationships more often. I think the unrealistic expectations we place on ourselves to obtain perfection is what causes many women to feel like they aren’t doing enough. Even though they may be excelling in many areas, there seems to be guilt if everything is not going smoothly.”

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Sara Adam Slywka, Co-Founder and CMO at Nestig

“Work-life balance is possible for female-identifying executives, but it needs to be done strategically. You can be a leader in the workplace from 9 to 5 and be present with your family after hours. To do so, it’s important to set boundaries. Mute emails and instant messages the second you leave the office, and only make yourself available for emergencies. We get stuck checking emails and handling minor work projects at home, thinking it will take five minutes, but it never does. You owe yourself a break to step away from the office and enjoy family time.”

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Mary Guirovich, CEO and Holistic Career Advancement Strategist at My Promotion Plan

“We tend to think of balance as having equal amounts at all times. This isn’t possible, and when we strive to make things equal, it causes us to have guilt and feel like a failure because we can’t have it all all the time. It’s like going to a restaurant. You can’t eat everything on the menu in a single sitting or even in a day, but you can experience everything on the menu over time. Life is the same way, and we all have different seasons of life that will require us to spend more time with work, and other times your family will require more time.”

Audrey Marshall, Co-Founder and COO at Thematic

“I believe in setting boundaries, as best as possible, to maintain somewhat of a healthy work-life balance. When spending time with family, I disconnect from my phone and computer and focus on my own time and my own life. Creating that separation is incredibly important to let my brain detox from being ‘always on’ at work, and allows me to return to my work mindset feeling more refreshed and ready to dig in. As a founder in my company on a small team, that makes a big difference and prevents me from burning out.”

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Kateryna Reshetilo, Head of Marketing at Greenice

“I think work-life balance is possible; however, a perfect work-life balance is a myth. This means that I do have to make compromises at work or at home, as well as sometimes ’tilt’ more to one side or the other to deal with some challenges in either area. But I still managed to make a career and be a present parent. Even prior to having a family, I always knew that I wanted to be there for my child, but I also wanted to work, so a work-life balance has been a goal of mine. I had to find a job that would support remote work and flexible hours, long before it became so common due to the pandemic. So I left my day job at that time to become a freelance marketer, then eventually stayed working exclusively for one of my clients. Thanks to the high level of trust and loyalty I’ve built with the company I work for, my current job gives me all the flexibility I need to care for my child, even during the lockdowns and homeschooling. I am also lucky to have a husband I can lean on for many family activities. So these things make work-life balance a reality for me.”

Senofer Mendoza, Co-Founder and General Partner at Mendoza Ventures

“The pressure on women is not a personal choice. Our culture puts a ton of pressure on women to do a disproportionate amount of the work it takes to maintain a home and family. For sure you can have it all! But, with 24 hours a day, it is physically impossible for one household member who also works full time to personally do it all. So, you need to make intentional decisions about who is doing what, and then hold everyone accountable for that and adjust as you need to. We have found that in our house, it tends to be more of an ebb and flow — some days we work a ton, some we can cut out early to make a child’s practice. We know we need that flexibility for success, so we have made it a requirement of our work life.”

Dr. Ximena Hartsock, Founder of BuildWithin

“Work-life balance is possible. I have a 3-year-old son who is very active and I am a startup founder, so needless to say, I am very busy. However, I feel that my work-life is balanced and I do not see any other way BUT trying to have it all. The key is knowing your boundaries, being efficient with your time, being OK with asking for help and learning when and how to say no. I also have a great partnership with my husband, which helps tremendously. He knows that I like to work and covers for me at home when work demands late hours. I, in turn, do the same for him.”

Amy Abdo, Director and Attorney at Fennemore

“A perfect balance does not exist, and you will never find it even if you search forever. What matters is finding the perfect imbalance –whether it’s work, family, friends or personal time, be where you’re needed when you’re needed, and always give 100%. Be accountable and take responsibility for your mistakes. Learn to own it with your colleagues and especially your clients, and be creative in offering solutions to overcome your shortcomings. Never, ever let the fire in your belly burn cold or you will miss out on life’s greatest opportunities, and pay it forward every single chance you get. And — no matter what — never compromise your integrity for anyone or anything.”

Tina Mirfarsi, Vice President of Communications and Culture at CarParts.com

“There are dozens of women in my life who are successful at their job(s) while also maintaining a healthy personal life, including myself. The one thing I do wish is to see more women not feeling pressured to ‘have it all.’ It’s OK not to be the ‘perfect’ mom, the ‘perfect’ employee, the ‘perfect’ anything — [we shouldn’t put] that pressure on ourselves to think that ‘having it all’ should come at an expense to our own needs.”

Jeanniey Walden, Chief Innovation and Marketing Officer at DailyPay

“So many people live their life trying to ‘have it all,’ and many times, that goal can actually backfire, and create stress, anxiety and depression. The truth is, no one person ‘has it all.’ More importantly, no one needs it all. In reality, we all live most effectively when we create a ‘work-life blend’ — an opportunity to create a schedule that meets the needs of your life. When you create a work-life blend, you can create an attainable and fulfilling future path. There is no one solution that fits everyone.”

GOBankingRates wants to empower women to take control of their finances. According to the latest stats, women hold $72 billion in private wealth — but fewer women than men consider themselves to be in “good” or “excellent” financial shape. Women are less likely to be investing and are more likely to have debt, and women are still being paid less than men overall. Our “Financially Savvy Female” column will explore the reasons behind these inequities and provide solutions to change them. We believe financial equality begins with financial literacy, so we’re providing tools and tips for women, by women to take control of their money and help them live a richer life.

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About the Author

Gabrielle joined GOBankingRates in 2017 and brings with her a decade of experience in the journalism industry. Before joining the team, she was a staff writer-reporter for People Magazine and People.com. Her work has also appeared on E! Online, Us Weekly, Patch, Sweety High and Discover Los Angeles, and she has been featured on “Good Morning America” as a celebrity news expert. 
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