I grew up on quotes like:
Lunch is for losers. – Thomas Kistner
Obsessed is a word the lazy use to describe the lazy use to describe the dedicated. – Russel Warren
Always be the first one in and the last one out. – Unknown
Hard work beats talent every time. -Tim Notke
I grew up believing and modeling these quotes. No one would outwork me, I would never say no, never quit, never need rest. I was praised for my work ethic and can-do attitude. I got promoted and I got bonuses. Then something happened.
I was working really long hours, think the first email from my boss came in at 4:30 am and I would stay at work until 7:30-8:00pm helping with the latest fire. And there was always a fire. I had a one year old and a three year old at home and I was missing them and feeling so much guilt and judgment for being a bad mom.
I started to notice that the leaders highest up in the organization were long gone before I left the office. I started to question if I was now the go-to, get er done, workhorse that would be used as long as I would allow it, and at the same time would never be promoted in a strategic role because they see me as a do-er and needed the sheer volume of work done that I could produce.
I was in a meeting one day and my boss asked for a volunteer to stay late and finish something. This time I held back, I didn’t initially volunteer and I watched the room. A male colleague more senior than me never volunteered so I figured he would realize it was his turn. He didn’t. We were working war-room style together on a critical project. The next day at 4:30, he said ok I have to go. Leaving at 4:30 felt like leaving at noon. Like we still have a half day or work left, what are you doing? So I asked. Where are you heading.
He told me,
“My kids have a basketball game and I committed I would never miss one.”
My first thought was, never miss one? That seemed like an unrealistic commitment when you have a job. I couldn’t get it out of my head. I kept thinking about it all night. He was a director and I was a manager. How did he say no so often at work and still have a more senior role than me? Is making a commitment like that to your kids actually possible? What would happen if I tried that? Then it hit me.
Every time I said yes to work, I was saying no to my family.
Every time he said no to work, he was saying yes to his family.
I knew something had to change. I knew I had to start saying no. I was scared of the consequences, but I knew I had to choose my family.
And so I did. One project at a time. I pulled back, stopped volunteering, left work for tomorrow, and left without announcing it. It wasn’t a light switch it was dimmer, but each time I didn’t volunteer it felt so scary. I know there was a comment or two, an uncomfortable conversation, but looking back there was no backlash, it was not a career-limiting move. I continued to get promotions and pay increases while working less and less. I noticed that my discernment improved. I started to be able to prioritize my work based on my new realistic hours. I focused on the things that added the most value to my company and stopped spending time on the things that were nice to have.
Now I coach other corporate parents how to make more money, work less and love their personal and professional life.
The work life balance quotes I look to now are:
What will I be giving up if I say yes to this? -Shayla King
It’s either a hell yes or a no. – Greg McKeown
You cannot overestimate the uniportance of practically everything. – John Maxwell
No is a complete sentence. – Oprah
Anything slowing down the execution of the goal should be questioned – Greg McKeown
If you want to change the world, go home and love your family. – Mother Teresa
If it a value, if it is a priority, let it show up in the time you spent. – Shayla King
It won’t be like this for long. A family who plays togehter, sgtays together. -Unknown
If you want to stop the auto play and create an intentional plan for your life and how you use your time, contact me for a consult to learn more about 1:1 coaching or check out our upcoming retreat in Mexico where you can pause the chaos, recenter on your dreams, and design a life you love.