Meeting both business and personal demands has long been a juggling act for women entrepreneurs. Between the long hours, travel, meetings and employee and customer challenges, there’s little time left for personal needs. Still, leading a rich, well-rounded life is as essential to your business success as it is to your sanity.
We ask Canada’s leading businesswomen to tell us how they effectively manage work/life balance. Each issue we’ll bring you the tactics and strategies that help women grow their companies and careers, while still finding a little “me” time to help deal with the personal commitments of life.
THIS ISSUE: Patricia Lovett-Reid is senior vice-president of TD Waterhouse Canada Inc. Lovett-Reid is a certified financial planner, TV host and author of four wealth management books. Her most recent book, released in November 2007, is “Get Real: 26 Canadian Women Share the Secret to Authentic Success.”
Don’t bother trying to keep up with the Joneses when you’re looking to achieve a balanced lifestyle, says Lovett-Reid. “People talk about being on the career track, or the mommy track, or whatever, but it’s more about being on your track,” she says. “Who cares what your neighbours are doing?” The real secret is knowing what makes you happy, then doing your best to achieve it.
Balance to Lovett-Reid means being content. “There are times when I will give more to my work,” she says, “and other times my focus is on my family.” The key, she believes, is being true to yourself, and living up to your own standards.
Like most women, Lovett-Reid juggles a busy schedule with many commitments, which often brings work and family obligations into conflict. She recalls once turning down her daughter’s request to attend a field hockey game in favour of a work event. “She looked at me and said, ‘You say no to us a lot. But you never say no to the bank. How come?’ And I felt awful,” says Lovett-Reid. “You get these moments that cut like a knife, and you tell yourself, ‘I will try to do better’.”
Family meetings have become a catalyst to help keep priorities intact and the lines of communication open between Lovett-Reid and her husband and their four children, aged 19 to 23. “Not only do we as parents call family meetings when things fall off the rails, but the children do as well.”
Knowing she’s done her level best helps release guilt, disappointment and stress about not living up to other people’s expectations. “I’ve given up trying to be the best at everything,” says Lovett-Reid, who recently turned 50. “If I’ve done the best I can and delivered the best I could, I walk away from it and say that’s OK, I won’t have any regrets.”
Learning to say “no” to some commitments also helps, and she never compromises on exercising, for which she takes 30 to 90 minutes each day.
Rather than focus on improving your weaknesses to achieve more balance, “you’ve got to play to your strengths,” suggests Lovett-Reid. Your passion will help drive success. “Spend more energy getting better at the things you’re really good at. And where you need help, bring in the recruits.”