Strategies For Solving the Work/Life Dilemma (cont.)

Sirull: When you look at your options, and you're brainstorming g for solutions, if there's budget for it, absolutely. So many people are in budget crunches where that's not a possibility. Many people find that hiring assistants at home can make a difference, if they can afford that. One of the keys here is that people should think outside the box.

Moderator: What's your favorite story of someone who changed from trying to balance their work to a work collage lifestyle?

Sirull: I have two. I very much admire women who are groundbreakers and trailblazers. One woman we call Jenny worked in a real stodgy environment, to the degree that when she pregnant with her first child, her boss didn't want her to tell anybody and wanted to handle the information dissemination because the ramifications could derail her career. So she didn't have high expectations when she came back from maternity leave to make changes, but she made some proposals about how she could work 4 days a week, and successfully argued that when people travel they're not in the office, and for many years, nobody knew she worked part time. After her second child was born she wanted to work 3 days a week, and went in to propose an entirely different way to work. There was one client in her company that everyone felt difficult, and instead of being on a variety of different projects, that she'd handle this one client, and she'd do it in the office 2 days a week, 1 day at home, but it was going to be a 60% job to handle this client. It worked great for the company, her peers didn't have to deal with the client, and she got a part time job that was good for her career and that worked for her. That's one of my favorite stories because she was a trailblazer and opened up the opportunity for others in her firm to work part time.

The other story that I love is from some women who are further along in their career, and understood that solving the work/life dilemma is ongoing, and one woman who was an attorney worked in a very fast paced, full time, in court, traveled a lot, job. She got married, had a child, and moved into a job where she was able to set some boundaries by eliminating some of the travel and court room time, so she continued to work full time, but not full-time plus. And later, she started her own law practice in the town she lived in, and then as her children got older, and she wasn't really so satisfied about being an attorney for 20 years, she left and took her expertise to work for a university in the non-profit sector, and that addressed her needs. To meet her family and life needs, and her own personal and intellectual needs, made many changes over her 20 year period to solve her work life dilemma. I found that most inspirational in terms of encouraging people that its an ongoing management of your life collage.

Moderator: Moving from one job to another can be stressful. How do you suggest keeping anxiety down?

Sirull: Some of this is to understand some of your own needs. Exercise is often a great way to do it. Some other things, when you really just need to take a two minute break, is to remind yourself, that "this too shall pass." However anxious you are, it will pass. And usually, the first major step is the scariest, so if you can get past that initial fear, people say that when they started to make changes, they felt better initially. Surround yourself with cheerleaders, and not critics. Getting support is very important, whether it's through your family and spouse -- we have some advice in the book to create your personal board of directors, that you as a person, can have a board of directors to support you and hold you accountable as you make these changes. And if you're truly stressed, there's nothing wrong with seeking counseling or professional help; that's a sound thing to do. It's also to just take care of yourself, and it may sound trite, to eat right and get your sleep, and to get some exercise. In a moment of despair, we talked to people who threw a pity party; get that pizza, stuffed animals, rent that movie that makes you cry, and get it all out. And when it's over, take a shower and face the world. Get on with your life. Indulge yourself in stress for a little while, then take those steps forward.

Moderator: What is Club Mom?

Sirull: Club Mom is at www.clubmom.com. It's a website and business for moms. Its binds together the buying power, the advocacy, and power of moms to accomplish things in this world There's a lot of information at that website for moms; for health issues, working issues, any imaginable issues that impact moms. Its a useful site for moms and it's at clubmom.com.

Moderator: What do you feel is the reason for the increase in self-employment in the United States?

Sirull: It is statistically true that a lot of new businesses are started for women, and a lot of that is due to that need for flexibility. Studies have shown that people leave corporate America to start their own businesses so they can have greater flexibility. Some people will end up working harder self-employed, but do it because they need that flexibility. In part, we're encouraging companies to work with flexible scheduling for what the employees need.

Moderator: What exactly is your definition of networking?

Sirull: I think networking is useful for lots of issues; most people think of it just for when you need to find a new job. Networking is great for whatever problems you need to solve, and when you're networking, you talk to people about who they are, what they do, and how they solved a particular issue in hopes that it might be a guide for you. Most people want to be helpful.

Moderator: How should someone approach a manager or boss about redesigning work?

Sirull: The important thing to do before you say anything is to really do your homework. Look at your job, and your company, and think of yourself for a minute as a vendor to your company. If a vendor came to you and said that they couldn't be a vendor to you, you'd probably go find another vendor. But if the vendor came and said that they'd been giving a lot of thought, but that there was a way to do it better for you and me, then you'd be more open minded. So look at your job, how you work with your peers, and how you want to work. Look at how this change would impact your peers, your customers, your boss, and construct a proposal that address these needs. Suggest that you pilot it for 3 months, and give it a shot. Most managers can be persuaded to try something for 3 months, but it's very important to do your homework before you just walk in and say "this is what I need."



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