By Julie Tingley, The KNOW Women
FACT: Work-life balance is real, and business owners actually have it.
It’s true. As much as we want to believe that ‘balance’ is some made-up idea sold through a 2:00 AM infomercial hosted by a 90’s talk show host, the reality is many women are discovering and achieving it quite simply – during normal waking hours, without scripted sales tactics from throw-back TV stars.
Not just an idea, but truly a destination- achieving balance is both possible and critical for business leaders, entrepreneurs, and creators that also value their overall health and wish to be more present in every moment.
When it comes to making changes that will surely effect a major shift, we called on some of the best licensed professionals in the health and wellness industry. From different parts of North America and different walks of life entirely, these three women all arrived at the very same place (ahem ‘balance’) when they learned to redefine self-care, grant themselves grace, and establish sound boundaries. The best part? Balance is a place for everyone, and you can get there too.
Isabel Fry, Breathe Retreats & Wellness “Remember that for everything you are saying ‘yes’ to, you’re saying ‘no’ to something else. Make sure your ‘yes’ is for something that feels good.”
Alberta, Canada- based Yoga and Meditation teacher, Reiki practitioner, and leader/ organizer of global Women’s Wellness Retreats, Isabel Fry stepped into the best version of herself after a life-changing weekend getaway nearly five years ago. Married with two children, Isabel works an average of 30 hours of week and couldn’t possibly host women in distant countries like Mexico and Costa Rica for Yoga Retreats if it wasn’t for the help of her husband, her extended family, and on demand-services like grocery deliveries.
When it comes to juggling work and home life: Plan, plan, plan…and then plan some more. Make lists about everything, and implement a family schedule that can be shared through mobile devices.
When it comes to practicing self-care: I carve time out of my day on a regular basis – a weekly walk and coffee with a friend, a bath, a massage, a pedi…small things here and there. My daily Meditation time is absolutely sacred and my family knows it. I think really making clear to your family the scheduled time for your self-care can be a great tool to avoid disappointments or fall short on expectations.
When it comes to overcoming overwhelm: Always practice gratitude and remember- don’t just fill your cup and then disperse to others; but rather, fill your cup so much that it overflows and spills into the other cups around you.
When it comes to setting and keeping boundaries: Remember that for everything you are saying ‘yes’ to, you’re saying ‘no’ to something else. Make sure that your ‘yes’ is for something that feels good, that you want more of in your life. This is the best way to create a more intentional life.
Alison Tierney, Wholesome LLC – “Many women feel as though they have to figure out how to be everything to everyone…If there is anything I’ve learned as I’ve gotten older, had children, and started a business it’s that you really can’t do it alone.”
With a passion for nutrition and healthy living, a financial career path she no longer wanted to pursue, and her husband’s support, Alison Tierney made the ultimate pivot after earning a business degree to follow her dream to become a registered dietician. Establishing her private practice Wholesome LLC in 2015, this Milwaukee entrepreneur is on a mission to foster a community dedicated to the prevention and management of chronic diseases. But she doesn’t go it alone, nor does she want to. She believes that it not only takes a village to raise a family, but also to develop a business. With nearby relatives that provide childcare support, a cleaning service to assist with home responsibilities, and a virtual assistant and social media professional to help with the growth of Wholesome, Alison feels better positioned to be more productive as a mother and a health professional.
When it comes to juggling work and home life: I would say that my biggest advice consists of a few things:
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
- Give yourself grace as you transition through seasons of life.
- Communicate, communicate, communicate – especially with your significant other. Communicate what you need from them, what your schedule is, and other expectations.
- Have others you can talk with that have been where you are or have an understanding of your work. Every week, I meet with two other women as part of an accountability team. We all work in different industries, have different family lives, different cultures, etc. yet since we are entrepreneurs and run primarily online businesses, we “get it.” I can’t believe how beneficial this weekly meeting has been for me personally and professionally. I am incredibly grateful for it!
When it comes to practicing self-care: Self-care is going to look differently for all of us and that’s okay! We often think of it as massages, time to read, exercise, etc. Currently, self-care for me is exercising, going to physical therapy as I recover from pregnancy, reading a novel each night before bed, and nourishing my body with healthy foods.
When it comes to overcoming overwhelm: We don’t have to do this alone! I think oftentimes, many women feel as though they have to figure out how to be everything to everyone – home, family, business, etc. If there is anything that I’ve learned as I’ve gotten older, had children, and started a business it’s that you really can’t do it alone. And frankly, I don’t want to do it alone!
Give yourself grace. Ask for help. Take a breath. And sometimes, if all you did in a day was breathe, that’s ok too.
When it comes to setting and keeping boundaries: You have to have them and honor them yourself or others won’t. Boundaries need to be in place to protect you, your family, and your relationships. And if you don’t respect them yourself – such as answering emails over the weekend for a client – your clients aren’t going to respect those boundaries either.
Atoya Hodges, O/X Society “If I do not practice self care every morning, then I’m being disrespectful to all of my roles. I’m not able to give 100% if I do not have 100% to give. I have to come first. If I’m not, well, then how can I truly be effective and efficient in my other roles?”
With multiple and advanced education degrees and several certifications in healing and holistic studies, Atoya Hodges brings a psychological, spiritual, scientific, and brain-based perspective to her coaching business. With a passion for healing the heart, mind, body, and soul driven by her mission to empower individuals to break through their self-imposed limitations, Atoya would not have been able to help a single person if she didn’t first heal herself. As a member of the Lumbee Tribe in Robeson County, NC, she grew up in a home of domestic violence and drugs. She survived homelessness, the death of both parents, and a suicidal attempt. From rock-bottom, Atoya rose beyond the low self-worth, the depression, and the rage by healing through education, coaching, and a spiritual journey that she now shares with her clients today. With the launch of a new business, a husband of three years, two sons, and five grandchildren, she is living life on her terms now with a commitment for self-care and well-defined boundaries. This means outsourcing business tasks that would otherwise affect her profitability and time with family and clients like administrative work and social media support.
When it comes to juggling work and home life: I have strong boundaries in place. If I work from home, I only have one place in my house that I work. This is my space, that is where my work is completed, and if I’m in there – do not disturb me. I have created defined work hours, and when that time runs out, I clock out. I have learned to be forgiving and compassionate with myself. Everything does not have to be perfect all the time. It’s ok to have chores that need to be done. Spending time with family and friends is a priority. Self care is a priority. I’ve learned to listen to my body, and when it needs rest, I rest. I have set days for chores to prevent being overwhelmed. I create family and relaxation time containers in the evening.
When it comes to practicing self-care: Every morning I practice self care. I view my mornings as my time to fill up my tank. I have so many roles to fill (coach, wife, mom, sister, grandmother, aunt, cousin, friend, business owner, boss, cook, housekeeper, chauffeur, cheerleader, and the list continues). In order for me to give 100%, I have to fill up my tank every morning. If I do not do that then I’m being disrespectful to all my roles. I’m not able to give 100% if I do not have 100% to give. I have to come first. If I’m not, well, then how can I truly be effective and efficient in my other roles.
When it comes to overcoming overwhelm: Give yourself grace and compassion. You can’t be everything to everyone. Avoid taking on more than you can do. If you do take on more it creates anxiety, depression, loss of self esteem and self worth. You lose who you are in the process. You become angry and frustrated. Learn the word “No”… and to speak your truth.
Create realistic expectations. Do not do things that you feel will make others happy and you miserable. Free up some of your time and make time for what really matters to you. The laundry and dirty dishes can wait. Unplug…Walk away from the phone, TV, internet and just enjoy the peace. You can find other things to do that won’t leave you feeling empty and annoyed that you wasted so much time.
Focus on progress not perfection. Get in touch with your emotions. If you feel anxiety, frustrations, etc.. determine what is causing it. Resolve it. It could be that a boundary is being violated.
When it comes to setting and keeping boundaries: When we fail to set boundaries and hold people accountable, we feel used and mistreated. To avoid this we must learn to set boundaries early, start small, and be consistent. In order to determine your boundaries you must look deep within and determine your non-negotiables. Once you determine those and your values then create your boundaries. Make sure you know what your limits are, always be assertive and trust your instinct. Make sure you communicate your boundaries, stay firm, clear and confident as you explain your boundaries. If individuals do not know what your boundaries are, they will constantly violate. Make sure you communicate and not create invisible boundaries. Invisible boundaries create confusion, animosity, and frustration. Always trust your instinct, this is one of the biggest advantages we as women have. But we often misuse, ignore or second guess it. Learn that letting go of what other people think is a game changer and provides an entirely different level of freedom. Always remember that practice makes perfect.