I woke up early this morning and felt a different level of energy today – after many months of somewhat frustrating trade offs between sleeping in, feeding the baby, getting ready for work and just about making it through the day in office.
Work-life balance – the phrase could mean a world of difference depending on what phase of life you are in and as a working mother – correction, a mother with a full time career, it assumes a fairly daunting avatar. It is also a phrase which could potentially throw up a lot of unsettling questions personally as you begin to wonder if you are fundamentally being unrealistic about your goals.
I like travel on occasion as it forces me to take some time for myself and something life changing dawned upon me during my last flight back from Delhi. I realized that the days I felt energized and enthusiastic were clearly those when I felt ‘great’ as a mother and ‘great’ at work – having had a meaningful idea or having executed something that added tangible value to our investing in India. I realized it wasn’t about feeling ‘good’ at all… for me, it was about feeling ‘great’!
I wondered, are those then the days when I achieved ‘work-life balance’ and the answer was a clear NO. This is when I realized that the term ‘balance’ really denoted some kind of “just-about-manage-both-sides’’ type of situation – and that’s not what makes me feel ‘great’ – in fact – “just-about-manage-both-sides” is outright EXHAUSTING.
The days when I had excess energy at the end of the day were really the days when I felt great about myself – and that’s when I knew that what I need to aim for is “work life EXCITEMENT”, which is a lot more than just managing the two sides – it is about ambition on both fronts. There is no doubt that this also involves me being realistic about my expectations of myself – if I want to spend 20 hours of the day with my son and be his sole caretaker, I shouldn’t be pursuing my career. But if I don’t want my son to be spending a majority of his time with nannies and helpers, then two big necessary preconditions have to be in place – the support of your family and your organization.
Unfortunately, what is not spoken about is the fact that ‘women at work’ is not just a workplace issue – it is also an issue that needs to be addressed at home. The day there is genuine gender equality in terms of how homes are managed, women will be far better placed to compete at work. It has to start at home, and I am one of the rare few to have such recognition at home, and at work.
“I realized that the days I felt energized and enthusiastic were clearly those when I felt ‘great’ as a mother and ‘great’ at work – having had a meaningful idea or having executed something that added tangible value to our investing in India.”Jyotsna Krishnan
Elevar gave me the opportunity to set ambitious targets for myself during my pregnancy and post that: my career didn’t slow down, or go sideways or take a back seat, it only fuelled further inspiration to integrate work and life and be ambitious about both. Of course, there are days when I leave my 8 month old at home without a worry because my family supports me and there are days when I work through the day with my son in the adjacent room with the nanny, playing in the office. I also know that on both these days and otherwise, I need to find time for myself in the mornings for some exercise and follow a diet that makes me feel great.
I think it’s clear – at least in my mind that work-life balance isn’t about trade offs. I want both and I want to feel great about both. The day I allow myself to get into the zone where I start picking, I will see the beginning of a downward spiral.