On Day 2 of the “Work+Life Fit in 5 Days” series of how-to basics, we’re challenging work+life fit roadblocks. It’s important to know how to see, avoid and challenge the roadblocks related to success, fear, resistance and in-the-box-thinking before you begin the process of creating your work+life fit plan.
We started on the Work+Life Fit blog by defining and challenging the Success Roadblocks related to money and prestige that can trip you up unless you flexibly redefine success to match the fit you want to pursue.
Now, let’s identify and challenge the Success Roadblocks related to advancement and caregiving before they derail you.
Excerpt from Work+Life Finding the Fit That’s Right for You
“Advancement=Success. Advancement is one of the cornerstones of our personal and cultural definition of success. As part of the FWI/Whirlpool New Providers Study, 1,502 women were asked “What makes you feel successful at work?” The answer with the highest percentage of responses by far was “quality of work/doing a good job/doing job right or well,” with 51% citing it as their top measure of success. How do we gauge how well we’re doing our job? By whether or not we advance—whether or we’re given higher ratings, bigger titles, bigger offices, more money, more responsibilities, better projects,etc.
It’s not surprising then that the idea of plateauing or even stepping back is difficult, especially if you’re a Type-A person who is used to always grabbing for that next rung onthe ladder. If you aren’t advancing, you must be failing. Right? But this belief is built on myth. Avoiding the red flags and roadblocks caused by an attachment to advancement requires dispelling the following myths…” (Click here for more and to print or download PDF)
Takeaway Action Steps to Redefine Success Related to Advancement:
There are three lanes in the Work+Life Fit highway—fast lane, stop at the side of the road, and the “slower lane.” We need to use them all. We pursue, yet resist, life in the fast lane. When we are overwhelmed and feel there’s no other choice, we look for an off-ramp with the promise of being able to find an on-ramp someday. We’ve limited our choices to an all-or-nothing highway. I’m either in, or I’m out.
But in today’s reality there’s no guarantee of staying in the fast lane forever. On-ramps are rare, if not non-existent; therefore, taking a career break really means stopping at the side of the road. To stay on the highway, means using the “slower” lane.
In this new era, over the course of a career, we will flexibly move, voluntarily and involuntarily, back and forth among the fast lane, the shoulder and increasingly, the slower lane.
What I love about this imagery is that even if you are pulling over into the slower lane you are still moving forward, just at a different pace. Making the decision to not take a promotion, to take a pay cut to save your job, to take a lower level job in a new industry, to give up some of your responsibilities, to become a project-based consultant or to reduce your schedule doesn’t mean you are off the highway or moving backward. You’re still in the game, just in a different lane for a period of time.
We need to recognize that the theory of spending time in the slower lane doesn’t sound so bad, until you look back over at the fast lane. What’s happening? Someone is passing you by. That can be very difficult if we hold on to our traditional, rigid standards of success. Moving among all three options means managing our expectations so that we are satisfied when we find ourselves reducing our momentum. And then, when the time is right, pulling right back over into the fast lane.
Directly challenge common advancement related myths:
Myth#1: I need to be advancing or I am failing
Reality: You can plateau at, or even step back from, your current professional position and still consider yourself successful.
Myth #2: Once I stop advancing, I can never advance again
Reality: You can start advancing any time you want.
Myth #3: If I have a work+life fit that differs from the traditional, in-the-office, 9-to-5, fulltime work schedule, I can’t advance.
Reality: You can advance even if you have a schedule that changes where, when and how you work. It’s a matter of whether you want to take on additional tasks and responsibilities that often go along with advancement.
Caregiving—Redefining Success as Parents and Elder caregivers
Excerpt from Work+Life: Finding the Fit That’s Right for You
“Work-related definitions of success are not the only ones that cause problems. Personal definitions of success, especially those related to the quality of caregiving, whether it’s caring for children or an aging parent, can cause just as much difficulty,particularly for women.
From the time women are very young, our families and our society dictate what it means to be a “good” mother to a child or a “good” daughter or daughter-in-law to an aging person. For many women, the only role models of motherhood populate two extremes: Either women who devoted all of their time and energy to caring for their children or women who devoted most of their time and energy to work. What if a young mother finds the 100% work extreme unappealing? She naturally defaults to the only other role model she knows–100% mom. That becomes her definition of success, which is then reinforced by our culture’s definition of a good mother.
Again, I believe that as more women (and men) become inspired and empowered to pursue an in-between, more moderate way of creatively combining work and their personal lives, beliefs will change both personally and culturally. But for now, this is the reality for many…(including fathers and elder caregivers). ” (Click here for more and to print or download PDF)
Takeaway Actions Step to Redefine Success Related to Caregiving:
Mothers, redefine what it means to be a “good” mother on your terms based on your unique reality and not on the 100% caregiver or worker model that may not apply. Really challenge what a good mother looks like for you personally. Not what your mother says it is. Not what the media says it is. What do you say being a good mother looks like to you, based on your unique work and personal realities that are unlike anyone else’s. Here are some of my favorite resources broadening the conversation about what it means to be a “good” mother:
- The Mama Bee Blog
- Morra Aarons-Mele at WomenandWork.com
- Joanne Bamberger at PunditMom.com
- Kami Lewis-Levin at The Fence, a Working Mom’s Blog
- Leanne Chase, CareerLifeConnection.com
- Chrysula Winegar at Work.Life.Balance
Fathers, redefine what it means to be a “good” father on your terms based on your unique reality, and not on the 100% provider model that may not apply. Does being a “good” father mean you are giving everything to providing for your family all the time? Really challenge what a good father looks like for you personally, given your unique circumstances. Not what your father did. Not what your friends and the media say you should do.
This is a very difficult issue for fathers today. And the pressure of the conflict shows up in the research. Men, and especially married working fathers, are reporting the highest levels of work+life fit conflict. Even higher than married working mothers. Check out Jonathan Fields’ compelling blog post, “Daddies, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Strangers.“
Elder caregivers, spend time thinking about how you expect to care for your aging relatives and ask them their expectations. Make sure they align. Previous generations often cared for their elders at home. Is that your mutually-agreed upon expectation? Clarify what success as a caregiver looks like before you are faced with an eldercare challenge.
What are some of the advancement and caregiving roadblocks you’ve encountered as you flexibly manage your work+life fit? How did you avoid or challenge them? Share your tips!
For the first part of the Day 2 segment, “Success Roadblocks: Money and Advancement,” click here to go to my Work+Life Fit blog.
Entire “Work+Life Fit in 5 Days” Series:
Day 3: Challenge Roadblocks — Fear
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