We often try to bite off more than we can chew. I often try to fit in too many changes and end up overwhelmed. We just want to have it all – an incredible career, a picture-perfect social life, some well-rounded hobbies!
But Anne-Marie Slaughter, a celebrated international lawyer and political scientist, offers a different perspective in her must-watch TED talk. It definitely inspired me.
1. Figure out if things aren’t working in harmony
Anne-Marie struggled for two years with a commute between Washington and Princeton. But it wasn’t long before she realized she couldn’t balance her work and family life anymore. So despite the irresistible promotion she was offered, she decided to go home.
“Over the next year, while my family was righting itself, I started to realize that even if I could go back into government, I didn’t want to. […] I finally allowed myself to accept what was really most important to me, not what I was conditioned to want or maybe what I conditioned myself to want, and that decision led to a reassessment of the feminist narrative that I grew up with and have always championed.”
2. Don’t let anyone tell you what you should be doing
For Anne-Marie, at that particular moment in time, she valued a happy family life more than specific career goals. People thought to be a modern woman, she should pursue her career dreams and let her husband handle the family life. But her priorities were different.
“I suggest that real equality, full equality, does not just mean valuing women on male terms. It means creating a much wider range of equally respected choices for women and for men. And to get there, we have to change our workplaces, our policies and our culture.”
3. Realize that happiness in your social life means happiness in your career
“I was raised to believe that championing women’s rights meant doing everything we could to get women to the top. And I still hope that I live long enough to see men and women equally represented all levels of the workforce. But I’ve come to believe that we have to value family every bit as much as we value work, and that we should entertain the idea that doing right by those we love will make all of us better at everything we do.”
Anne-Marie’s biggest argument is that there is a direct link between happiness at home and happiness at work! The person that goes home to spend time with loved ones instead of working all hours of the day and night is more likely to succeed in her career.
One simple reason for this is that we learn invaluable lessons at home with our family. “[C]aregiving itself develops patience — a lot of patience — and empathy, creativity, resilience, adaptability.” These qualities are essential in the workplace too.
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