Tipping Over: Why The Balance Challenge Concerns Women Leaders

One simple tip to help find life balance is to incorporate exercise in your life. For many working women, whether at the beginning of their careers or comfortably moving toward the top, that ancient discussion of work/life balance might feel like a perennial nuisance that no one can get quite right.ButLori Bailey, global head of special lines at Zurich Insurance, writes in Fortune that by combining some of your responsibilities, you will likely sacrifice fewer opportunities to engage in each arena of your life.Bailey writes: “Unfortunately, time doesn’t grow on trees, or magically increase according to one’s will. So if I was to make this change, I would have to actively manage the other areas of my life to keep everything in balance. What I soon realized was that I didn’t have to necessarily sacrifice other areas of my life in order to make this happen – I could combine them.”[bctt tweet=“You don’t have to make sacrifices to keep everything in balance.”]Because each person has work, family, community and social obligations, Bailey writes that she is lucky to have an employer who values each part of her life.“Through Zurich, I could volunteer at several places as part of Global Community Week which would combine work and community; and volunteering with my daughter’s Girl Scout Troop combined family and community. I didn’t actually need more hours in the day – I just had to be smarter about how I used them. Maintaining an adequate life balance is a challenge for all of us – but even more important is making sure you have the right areas to balance.”What can really throw life and work out of balance for many women leaders is work travel. The Economist looked at a few reasons why women book travel earlier than their male colleagues, and concluded from the studies that the reason is because business travel stresses them out, so they want to plan ahead.According to The Economist: “A new report from Carson Wagonlit Travel, a corporate-travel firm, found that women, on average, book their business flights around two days earlier than men. The research was based on a database of 1.8m people who had booked corporate travel in 2014.”The story continues: “Another CWT study suggests that women find business travel more stressful. Compared with men, they get more anxious about things such as lost or delayed baggage, poor internet connections and not being able to eat healthily. Indeed, of a list of 12 measures it tracked, women were found to be more stressed by all of them except being forced to fly economy on medium- or long-haul flights.”This is not to say every woman traveling for work is freaking out about the change in time zones or zip codes.“According to research by Judi Brownel of Cornell University, female executives think corporate travel contributes to their professional advancement, provides freedom from daily routines and widens their worldview,” according to The Economist.No matter if you are at your home office or on the road, the ability to have both a personal life and a great working life is the goal of most every working woman on the planet. And in Glamour, Jillian Kramer writes that a study of 100 women college graduates ages 22-45 by Fairy God Boss found that salary or compensation was No. 1.Writes Kramer: “But the second most popular answer might surprise you: No matter their ages or whether they have children, women want flexible hours when it comes to work.”Kramer continues, “The women were asked to rate several factors on a scale of one to seven, with one being unnecessary to seven being absolutely crucial. For women younger than 30, compensation hit at average of 5.6—while flexible hours came in at 5.2. Meanwhile, women older than 30 ranked compensation at 5.5 and flexible hours at 5.3.”Women also rated vacations as high on the list of what they are looking for. That for sure speaks to balance-seekers.In a new study from Pluralsight, “which polled more than 500 women working in technology fields in the UK,” according to OnRec, “many feel they would benefit from more female role models (40 percent). Responses also showed that women in tech careers are running into a number of obstacles in climbing the corporate ladder, which may be impacting their salary and long-term career trajectory.”Not surprisingly, 50 percent of all respondents agree that balancing their career and personal life is challenging.[bctt tweet=“50% of all respondents agree that balancing their career and personal life is challenging.”]In an interview with Laura Dunn, Founder and Editor of Political Style and  Director of LED Media, for Huffington Post, Anna J. Rathbun, Director of Research for CBIZ Retirement Plan Services, talked about her search for balance during her successful career as one of a few women leaders in her field.  “I think that finding balance in one’s life requires a regular pause for prioritizing. Throughout one’s life, priorities change; it is necessary to take a moment periodically to reassess what is most important. When the workload gets heavy, my husband sacrifices some time with me, and I do the same for him. We have a great understanding of each other’s ambitions. Outside of that, I do my best to exercise, eat well, and laugh heartily.”Executive coach and mentor Nella Buttridge also writes in Huffington Post that resiliency is a strength to tap, but also that women leaders in the workplace can pay attention to the shifts in balance in both professional and personal lives.“Find your balance. Create some space for yourself. Do yoga, walk the dog, put aside some time for reflection,” Bettridge writes. “You need something to offset all the obligations and deadlines. This helps you to keep your distance — and take more risks.”