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Women's Work: The Great Juggling Act

Ramya S Sharma
Ramya S Sharma
Senior Manager, Greater Asia Staffing, Intel.
Ramya is currently working as Senior Manager, Greater Asia Staffing at Intel. She has founded her... more>>
One of the questions I get asked pretty often is how I balance my work, my children, my home, my parents/in-laws, my relationship with my husband and of course, any interests and hobbies.

I have been asked this question often enough that it has prompted some reflection. Am I unusual in what I do? Of course, I am not. Every single conversation I have had in the past so many years has shown me that women all over struggle with this great juggling act, whether you are single, newly married, married with kids,married with older kids and so on. Priorities vary but the fact remains that we do need to juggle all these aspects in our life. How do you get it all right. How do you do the best that you can flourish in all aspects of your life and frankly is that even realistic? I will be the first to say that I still havent found a balance but I do try every single day and I talk to the many really smart women around me to get their thoughts and opinions on getting it right.

A friend of mine who while not running her own company- is a fellow runner shared her perspective with me. Her approach to find the balance has been to be unapologetic about her priorities. If she needs to spend time with the children, then to be unapologetic about that at work; If she needs to take some time off and recharge, to be unapologetic about it with her husband and children; If has needed to travel at work and so on. This thought had a profound effect on me and really got me thinking since it was so diametrically opposite to my guilt ridden approach to find the balance. When I see her comfortably straddling the many aspects of her life, it struck me that like with everything else, it is really important to find an underlying principle that defines our approach to the juggling act. In this case, the underlying principle was that she would be unapologetic to and for all aspects of her life and do the best she could every single day! This principle had made it easier for my friend to deal with each day, each crisis, each situation, each context.

The other approach is to be clear about your priorities. What is the most important thing for you deep down? If given a chance to reflect on your life, what would you want to have gotten right? Inevitably, it will come down to one thing. I have a friend that said she wants to leave behind a legacy in technology and hence her choices on a daily basis were driven by that. Another friend/coach was clear that her biggest sense of accomplishment was going to come from being a great parent and she was willing to live with the compromises in her career and work. I think back on my moments when I had been truly facing challenges and I have to admit that being clear about my priority at that moment, at that time really helped me to make past that time. Whether it was taking 6 months off with both my children or going back to a hectic full time job or taking on a role with travel or taking time off to get our home built or spend time with my parents and in laws; All of these have meant making choices with consequences that I have had to think through and feel very comfortable with.

Sounds great while writing but I admit it has too much heartburn and worry while making these decisions. There are no easy answers to find the balance in the juggle act but these two have worked for me, helped me make it through those challenging times. I offer it to you as something to chew on. I would love to hear from you. What has made it easy for you to find the balance? Has the juggling act taken a toll on you? What would you do differently?

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