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Work-Life Balance Stressing You Out? You Can Stop It!

Work-Life Balance Stressing You Out? You Can Stop It!

Dr. Sherrie Bourg Carter | Excelle

July 24, 2009

The first problem is that high-achieving women are … well, just so darn high-achieving! And I don’t mean that in a bad way. It’s just that by nature you’re a perfectionist; you’re a tad on the competitive side (at least with yourself); and forgive the psychologist in me, but you’re a tiny bit obsessive compulsive. And because of these wonderful traits (and I mean that with all sincerity), many of you take on this work/life balance thing like it’s a challenge, like it’s a mountain that you have to climb every day.

What’s so bad about that? Absolutely nothing … except when you view it as a failure if you don’t reach the peak each and every day. And that’s what I see happening to many women. That’s how something that’s supposed to be stress-reducing (seeking balance) becomes stress-inducing.

But that’s not the only stressful aspect to achieving work/life balance for high-achieving women. Another has to do with the common advice offered by the “experts” to achieve balance. Simply put, it doesn’t fit well with the personalities and lifestyles of high-achieving women. The advice is a set-up for failure because of who you are and the lives that you enjoy leading. And the trap goes something like this: buy this book (or read this article or listen to my radio show or watch my TV show), and if you do X, Y, and Z, then you, yes, you will achieve “balance!”

But here is why X, Y, and Z are destined to fail for most high-achieving women. First, X usually involves advising you to get rid of the things in your life that zap your energy. The problem is that what zaps most high-achieving women’s energy is that they spend longer hours at work than most people only to come home and spend even more hours working on their never-ending domestic responsibilities (i.e., children, partners, household chores), or working on more work “work,” or in some cases, both. Honestly, if you could get rid of those things, what would you need to balance, right? So the first tip most experts offer simply doesn’t work in the kinds of lives most high-achieving women lead.

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