I was sitting on a plane on my way back to Harare after another weekend on the job or doing what I love I guess. Following my passions has taken me further than I could have ever dreamt of #followyourpassion. Anyway, while I was sitting and reflecting on my life, a question had been eating at me for some time. Can women really have it all? Or does something in your life somewhere pay the price. Striking a balance between all these various aspects of your life. We spend too much time being hard on ourselves. We spend too much time focusing on what we can’t control, we need to learn to focus on what we can change and let go of what we can’t. I always found myself questioning why I was single. Am I setting unrealistic expectations? Do I even have the time to be in relationship? What happened to my social life? When was the last time I spent time with some of my friends? Read a book for fun? Baked a cake? (insert many arb questions here)
It made me realise how grateful I was to be part of a women’s mentorship program. I actually began to think that it wasn’t a coincidence that I was selected to be part of the Women’s Development Dialogue Series. My first session was on the Work-Life Balance part of which you can watch here
(it is just 24 minutes, I suggest you watch it). This could not have come at a better time…. intervention me thinks. I thought I would share my reflections, insights and share what i have learnt as I go through the #WDD series journey.
7 Tips for any woman needing more balance:
- Get help when you need it! There are times I feel so overwhelmed and I loose sleep because I feel if I don’t do it wont be done right or not done at all. But I am realising that I am surely no superwoman and that sometimes it okay to ask for help. Asking for help and support does not make you a failure, it makes you more efficient.
- Do something that you love! We waste a lot of our time feeling unhappy doing jobs that people expect us to do, or doing jobs that just bring us financial security. But you can still do what you love and still be able to sustain yourself. I am not saying it is a an easy journey, but you feel happier. Your passion is something that can drive you to places you never imagined.
- Learn to say no! This is one thing I have struggled with, but i soon realised that we can’t be everything to everyone. I found myself burning out. So sometimes it’s okay to say no and you shouldn’t beat yourself up about it either. I found myself feeling guilty about refusing to go out with friends or taking on things at work that were not part of my mandate.
- Set and enforce you boundaries! It is important to set your boundaries because people have a tendency to take advantage of you. If you don’t have boundaries you just know your life will be a whole lot more complicated.
- Learn to take control! Don’t let anyone dictate how your life should be. It distracts you from what you envisioned for yourself. There is no silver bullet or one size fits all for how your life should be. You yourself determine most of the outcomes of your life, all stemming from your decisions. Don’t let anyone take that away from you.
- Small things matter! I have realised that there are so many things we take for granted in life, and yet those little things are what can be the difference between a good and bad day. A message/sms from a loved one, taking time even if it is an hour to meditate or pursue a hobby. These take you away from the stresses and challenges of life.
- Be kind to yourself: I think this is something else that has been an epic failure in my life. I realised that I am way to hard on myself and beat myself up about a number of things. I have learnt to treat myself once in awhile.
- Get a great support system: We thrive in an environment that we are loved. So get a good support structure.
- Get organised: Get your life in order as much as possible and you won’t be so stressed out.
Three tips for those in relationships:
- Know what you want from a partner and you will find the right man who will suit your needs and support your dreams. There is no such thing as the perfect man, just the perfect man for you (but at the same time don’t settle).
- In relationships don’t give 50% each but give 100% each. This made a lot of sense cause as soon as couples start only giving 50 % and having the expectation that the other must give 50% (half half), the other will always fall short somewhere. It is all in how you phrase these things.
- Don’t overwhelm you partner with work issues. Like one of the mentors said to us, he (your guy didn’t marry or date you because you are “insert your occupation here” but because you are an amazing woman, friend and lover. Don’t seek to impose you professional importance to him (or her)
Marianne Knuth my mentor during the #WDDSeries:
She works to create healthy and vibrant communities in Zimbabwe. She is the founder of Kufunda Village, a learning center that allows people to recover their sense of pride, wisdom and capacity in working with their own knowledge and deepening their resourcefulness. The organisation’s programs reach out particularly to rural Zimbabweans with a focus on children, youth and community leaders. Kufunda was one of the six centres chosen for a study on leadership, concluding that Knuth’s work is indicative of a new global social movement that is rooted locally, works with existing assets and enhances opportunities instead of only concentrating on solving immediate problems. Knuth’s work extends beyond Kufunda, as she brings her capacity for community building to other parts of Africa, Europe and North America.
So why am I excited about being mentored by Marianne:
- I think she help me regain balance in my life. She is a woman who has achieved to so much and is centered and ground.
- It is always good to spend some time sharing with someone who has been through a similar process, and spending time with her will help me better navigate through my life.
- She has a positive energy about her, she radiates a warmness and an approach to life that I would like to adopt.
- I am also keen to learn more about building strong communities in the work that I do.
On a closing note, one of the books we have been given as part of our personal growth journey is “Lean In” by Sheryl Sandberg…I suggest you get a copy and read it. It goes into some very real issues we face as woman trying to do things outside of what our culture expects of us as women, building a career. “We face real obstacles in the professional world, including blatant and subtle sexism, discrimination, and sexual harassment.” Interestingly enough with all this nonsense we have to go through, “women have to prove themselves to a far greater extent than men, men are promoted/recognised based on potential and women are promoted/recognised based on past accomplishments. I am grateful to the handful of men that have been open-minded and supportive to women getting access to the same opportunities but trust me..it is no easy journey…anyway stay tuned on some reflections on the book…