5 Tips to a Better Work/Life Balance

Balance reDefined Radio Podcast Episode 52

5 Tips to a Better Work/Life Balance

(The following is the transcript of the podcast.)

Connie Sokol: I’m Connie Sokol your host today and so thrilled that you’re taking a minute out of your time to get some great stuff about how to deal with life challenges through faith, family and community and I’m so thrilled today to have Michelle McCullough with us today. Hi, Sweetie.

Michelle McCullough: Hi there. Thanks so much for having me.

Connie: We are so happy. She is going to be one of the speakers featured at our You Got This Women! Conference on March 23rd, 2019. If you haven’t gotten your tickets, go to yougotthiswomen.com and get them because they are literally going fast and it’s so early in the game, so go get those tickets. But meanwhile, we want to spotlight a lot of these different speakers so that you get an idea of who they are and what their messages are.

We have so many, about 12 breakout speakers, plus the main stage women and they, each and every one of them, have beautiful and unique facets that they get to share. So you get to have a little sneak peek, feast beforehand.

So today, we’re going to talk about women and business and what that looks like when you weave in faith, work-life balance, dealing with obstacles and challenges through that faith. What does that look like? So, hold onto your hats.

So, just a little brief introduction, if you don’t know much about Michelle, she is a love, she’s been featured in Fox 13, on Forbes, entrepreneur.com, she’s a Small Business Influencer Award Recipient and also she is a prolific speaker and a marketing genius and on a personal level is one of those women that you wish you could just clone her mind and the way that she’s able to make connections and get how things work, especially on a business side where I think a lot of us as women, we feel like we’re jumping into this arena. We have these new file drawers and she is genius about being able to know how to do this and then teach it to other people.

What we want to focus on today, like I said, is more of that women ask a lot of times, “Wow, I’m being…” and this is a phrase that Michelle coined I believe a few years ago, but it stuck with me because that’s who I heard it from, “Being a mom and _____, being a woman and _____.” When you are a woman, wife, mother, aunt, sister, caregiver, all of those roles.

How do you do that? Like how do we balance that in the sense of, you know, the balance has been kicked to the curb, we know that, but how do you make that work for your own self and your own life and how do you navigate some of the obstacles and the challenges that come that way?

So without further ado, I would love to ask you just your first point. You had been doing business and being a mom and for quite a while now. So what are some of those key life wisdom pearls that you have been able to find and discover to help you create that sort of a, I know that I’ve got this rolling and I feel good about what I’m doing at the end of the day.

What are some of those life tips that you can share?

Michelle: Well, I think that the first life tip I would have is to embrace the chaos and stop expecting things to be perfect. I think that I had this vision when I was a kid about what motherhood and womanhood would look like or feel like and then it ended up being completely different from what it was. But it’s its own beautiful, awesome and amazing thing. You know, when you take your life and you add it with a kid or spouse’s or even boss’s and friend’s and there’s an element of your life that becomes a little bit shared.

And I think that’s the intent or else we all would have been sent to our own little desert islands. But, um, we are here with lots of people and so I think part of that is embracing all of the different pieces that other people bring into our lives and also embracing some of the chaos that comes from not just figuring out what your own needs are, but other people’s needs as well, and how our roles intersect in really big ways.

And so, from there beyond the chaos, I have to figure out how to wrangle it, and that’s an entirely different, completely other story. But for me, I think that what that looks like is being in control of the one thing I can control. And that is my time.

I’m a huge time management junkie and that doesn’t mean that every single day and every single week is perfectly planned and the perfectly timed out, but I’m conscious of the ways that I spend my time and I’m careful about what I say yes to and what I say no to. And I’m mindful that every single day I have an intention rather than just dealing with the things as they are flung at me, but that I am strategic and specific in what I’m taking on what I’m doing and how I’m kind of managing through the day.

Connie: I love that, and I think that is such a key is that being intentional because then we’re actually choosing what we’re doing. We’re not just being, you know, rafted along the river instead of being able to say, “wow, I really wanted this and good, bad, ugly, whatever. I love that I am in on for the ride.”

So how would you like…do you have a suggestion to help women be more intentional about what they are doing? There are so many women I meet that they just are putting out fires all day long. So how can they be more intentional?

Michelle: Well, I think first and foremost, it’s a beginning with…so when I had two little kids running around and I was still trying to have babies and I still was trying to grow my businesses at the same time, there was a fair amount of chaos that came from that on its own level, it wasn’t like I could really have a schedule that worked because I would say that I was going to work between 10 and 11 when my kids were taking a nap. But then that day they would take a nap at one and so they would just be this thing where I couldn’t control exactly what would happen.

But I remember just setting a feeling word for the day. I would wake up and my feeling word for the day was peace and focus and so I would just choose to be intentional the day with the feeling, not about a to-do list or not about the number of things that we’re getting done or not about the projects that had to happen because sometimes they could, but starting with that kind of intention.

So if you can’t even touch your clock and if you can’t even touch your to-do list and you can even take your time, think about the feelings that you want to bring into that day. But if you can [have a schedule] I’m a huge fan of priorities over to-dos and as you and I both know, balance is not something that can actually ever happen, but I do believe we can be in priority in a given day.

And that doesn’t necessarily mean that it means you’re getting 20 things done or you’re getting two things done, but what are the priorities? What are the things that have to happen?

Yes, I have to take care of my kids. Yes, I have to make sure they’re fed, clothed. The diapers are changed and uh, yes, I have to make sure that I take care of this one project for a client that is my priority and however I’m going to do that is flexible, but the priority is clear. And so I think that, you know, nowadays my kids are in school most of the time and my schedule can be a little bit more specific and planned and rigid, but I think that in any given stage of life that we’re in, we have to give ourselves permission to start first with the feeling, second with the priority, and then get detailed into the planning.

Connie: I love that and I agree. I mean that’s when I talk about redefining balance, that’s what it looks like for you in your life. So the women that are listening, you know, some will have young kids, some will have teenage kids and will have adult children and what that looks like for you, those priorities that you are actually moving forward on, that you are actually attending to those are the things that are going to keep us fulfilled no matter what. Like you said, that list gets done or doesn’t get done by the end of the day, if we have attended to those priorities and we feel that balance, we feel that, oh, okay, I’ve got those fills in those core areas.

So that being said, on the core areas, how is it that you can help, I know what you do a lot with business, how do you stay focused on those things that matter most, because I hear a lot from women and I felt it myself when the kids were really young.

You can start getting in the space of feeling like they’re inconvenience, right? This is an inconvenience, the spouses and it can be, it’s the neighbor that wants you all the time was an inconvenience, you know, and you kind of start getting this mentality of being distanced from those things that matter most and the very things that you wanted in the first place. So how do you stay in that very, what matters most space. And now we just talked about priorities, but how do you, how do you deal that with being able to do it in a in a more whole sort of way of approaching it?

Michelle: Well, I think that to me it’s simplistically said, but then harder to execute that I’m careful with two words and that’s yes and no.

So, and I think that it’s easier said than done when I start a day and say to myself, okay, today I’m going to do X, Y, and Z and anything else that comes in is going to challenge that.

And then I have to determine if I’m going to say yes or if I’m going to say no. And one of my favorite lines that before I was enlightened, if you will just chill. But um, my favorite line when I had little kids at home and I had lots of priorities and lots of community responsibilities and businesses that we would run is I would say at the end of the day, my day was not my own.

Like my husband would say, “How was your day go”?

It’d be like, “Oh, my day was not my own”, and that was just kind of like my excuse, like, well, other people needed me or the lady down the street needed me or my sister in law needed me.

And I remember sitting somewhere and having somebody challenge my challenge to that question, and I’m so glad they did because at the end of the day if I’m going to choose to do something for the neighbor down the street, I chose that. And I need to say yes without resentment to both myself and to that person.

And if my sister-in-law called and said, “I’m feeling really sick, I need you to take my four-year-old” and I had plans to do something else, I had to then go back and check my priorities and I either needed to say yes without resentment to her or to myself even, or just saying, “no, I’m sorry, I can’t do that. I already am committed, but maybe I can help you tomorrow or something”.

Now without judgment, whether or not the yes or the no is right. Taking ownership for the yes and the yes and the no is the important part of that. But, um, I think it gets a little bit tricky as women in business and people who run businesses or even people who have hobbies because they feel like if they say family first, it means that they shouldn’t ever have to sacrifice for their business.

I don’t think that’s right either. I think it’s okay for us to say to our kids, I love you and you are my number one priority but right now I have to be focused and I have to take care of this in my business because I’ve made commitments to my clients or commitments to my employees or commitments to something else.

And so it’s okay to say to your kids, I’m sorry I can’t do that right now because I made a commitment somewhere else because then they know that the time will come for them to keep their commitments to other people, not just to them.

And so, you know, I think about my mom who was in a single mother and she had to go to work every single day and sometimes when we were sick she couldn’t drop what she was doing and come and take us to do something else or she couldn’t bring us our paper from home or she couldn’t bring us our homework or our lunch because she had to keep that priority there and that’s okay because she needed to put food on the table she needed to provide for her family.

And whether you’re the sole breadwinner or whether you are a contributing breadwinner or whether you’re just earning a little money on the side, it’s okay to set boundaries with your family. And it’s okay to say no to them or to say yes when it’s understood. But I always feel like part of that is communicating with them both before and after about why that’s important so that they’re learning about it and that they see that as also a priority and that they don’t have to question it because it’s understood.

Connie: I love that. And I love the point that you make of owning it, owning those decisions, those choices. So at the end of the day, you don’t go into this victim mode, but you’re like, I wanted this, I wanted this life, I wanted to be a mom. I wanted to have this business, whatever it might be. And being able to own that, that was the day that you were being your big bold self, like you were being, you know, pulling up your big girl panties, you’re a woman and you’re owning your life.

And I love that. And I loved the second piece that you communicate with your family. I think sometimes we as women forget and we can kind of think they get it by osmosis. And I love that you’re talking about communicating with them.

What are the needs that you have?
What are the priorities that are in place for you?

I know I have different kids that some like physical touch. Some want me to just listen to them. Some just want eyeballs for 10 minutes and then they just want to go do their thing. But I think that communication helps them to be able to understand they are a priority and this is how you’re going to attend to that, but that it doesn’t mean everybody gets equal time and equal space. It’s just, it’s going to be different on any given day and I think kids really respond to that when they know it’s genuine, honest thing. You’ve been honestly and openly communicative with them. I love that.

So if we could segway for just a quick minute, I love all these pieces. I love this. Embrace the chaos and be intentional and I love the feeling word for the day and priorities over to do’s and yes and no, and I love this.

So if we kind of go a little bit of a segway more onto the faith aspect. How has faith helped you in being able to do all of these things? Being able to say yes, no, when you’re exhausted at the end of the day, giving you more energy or you able to say, oh, I know how to parcel this out. I know how to do this today. How has faith helped you be able to move forward in this journey that you’ve had?

Michelle: Well, I’ll say that faith is the center of that for me. Um, and I think that every decision that I make and every choice that I make starts with asking My Heavenly Father and asking God to direct my path and to help me feel like what I’m doing is right.

And so, um, I remember getting a t-shirt at an event from a friend of mine and it says, God is my CEO. And I think about that a lot with my businesses. And I think about how would I talk to my Heavenly Father about my business in a way that would help me understand if I’m on the right track or not.

And you know, generally speaking, and I know some people get complete downloads of business plans from a higher power. I have never had that luxury. But what I have had is I have felt a direction. Like if when I move, I can feel whether or not that’s right or wrong.

And so for me, I have had to move first and respond to seconds. And I wish that everything was like a magic eight ball and that God just told me what to do all the time. But it’s not like that.

But when I get an idea and I move forward, I can feel is this the right thing? Yes or no? And then sometimes I have to retract, which is hard, but that for me, I have figured out that I need to move and that the Lord will help pave the path that’s in front of me and that I will be guided and directed to do the things that are right in my business and that also are right in my home at the same time because I’m willing to move forward almost with faith that it’s the right thing.

And sometimes I do get answers before I move forward. Like, no, that’s not right, but generally speaking, for me, I think my faith intersects to help me make sure I know I’m on the right path or to help me make the course course corrections when I’m off.

Connie: I love it. Can you think of a time when you had to exercise a lot of faith before you did something, but it was really, really scary?

Michelle: Well, absolutely. I think I’m expanding my business from just consulting to speaking was pretty scary for me, which is funny because I like to talk all day long and I’m sure that is part of my general path, but it was a lot easier for me to stay on the sidelines of a small consulting business than to put myself completely out there. But I knew it was the right thing and so I had to move forward with that.

But I have to say that I think what has been harder for me is the faith to retract when it wasn’t right and that sometimes I went down a path and I even made commitments in one particular case with a partnership and after it was all said and done and I felt like I had prayed and I had fasted and I had sacrificed to get the answer and I felt like it was right.

Once I moved forward, I knew it was clearly wrong and yet I had already made a commitment and I had already said I was going to move forward, but I knew at that point it wasn’t right. And I do one of two things: either continue on to save face or to retract and save face with God and it was really tricky, but I did it.

Now I think that every time we do something that’s hard, whether it’s the faith to move forward or even the faith to move back, we grow closer to understanding how we work with our higher power, but we also grow, grow closer in trust that I know that he knows I will change when he tells me. And as hard as that is, as long as I trust that I will not be led astray.

And I don’t know why that partnership was wrong. Um, and I, I seriously love this woman. I loved her organization. I like all that she was up to do and it did not make any sense to me except that I knew it was wrong and I was willing to do that.

And the same thing goes with building my business in different ways. I knew it was the right thing to do, even though it was hard, I trusted the path would be clear. And that that’s the kind of communication and the kind of a relationship I want with, with God in every aspect of my life that he knows I’ll move when it’s right. But then I’m also gonna move when, um, I’m going to do my part before he does his.

Connie: I love it. And the fact that you know, in your soul, that confidence that that gives you in being able to move forward because then you don’t have to bounce.

A lot of women feel that they bounced from branch to branch. They just can’t quite get it to go right, you know, and just be like, okay, I’m doing this. And I think that’s a great point, is getting to that place of confidence of being able to say, I’m going to move because I know if it is wrong that I will have the confidence to be able to retract it. And that has just two sides of the same coin. Very important skill. I love that.

So, as far as with this, utilizing your faith, what it sounds like, you know, you’ve made this a beautiful sort of a all hands on deck kind of thing, Heavenly Father and doing this as a mom and how have you worked this with your family? How have you made this so that being in business jives with your family desires and your family life and do they do stuff with you and what, what, how do you make this sort of like, it seems like it’s a family deal. So how do you make that work?

Michelle: Well that has evolved and changed over the years as well. Um, and there are pieces of my business that my family is involved in, but then there are pieces that are completely separate because I’m trying to protect them. A fair amount of what I do is very public and we’ve had some interesting situations, um, with them as a result of that. So now we are in this careful dance of protecting my kids, but then also continue doing the work that I do. And, but I think what I would say is that at the end of the day, I want my kids to know that what I’m doing matters. And so I involve them a lot and I talk to them a lot and I probably over communicate with them what I do. Um, and that’s part of the nature of me if being a verbose person, but, um,

I want my kids to know that when I leave them because they’ll say things to me like, “Mom, why are you leaving me or why are you going to speak to those people? I want you more than they want you.”

And I say, “That might be true, but they may need me more than you want me right now.” And I try to help them understand that as much as they want me, someone else may be able to benefit from what I can offer, what I can give them.

And so I’ll talk to them about what I’m speaking about or what I’m training about or the kind of people that I’m talking to and help them to understand that for the same reasons they don’t want me to go and other people need me to come help them. And I will also talk to them about not just why it’s good for good for the people that I’m speaking to, but also why it’s good for my kids.

Um, you know, my husband has a good job that provides well for our family and we have health insurance and cars and houses, but my income tends to pay for the extras, the things that our family can do that we couldn’t otherwise, um, under our current circumstances.

So, I will say my kids, “Do you like playing soccer or do you like playing basketball or do you like having piano lessons, or do you like going on trips with the family? Um, those are some of the things that I helped pay for.” And you know, once I finally help my kids understand that I wasn’t just leaving them, that I was providing for them, that that helped them be more supportive of what I do because they understood what it meant to them.

I had to help them understand what that meant then, but I also feel like we do that pretty good as women. Hey, this-“What I do helps provide for this or provide for that,” but we forget to help them see what we do helps the world so that they can see that. And even if you’re somebody who makes hair bows or, um, somebody who goes to work at a, at a restaurant waiting on tables, we can still help our kids understand the benefit that they bring to someone else. Um, not just the benefit that they bring to the family so that they can think about the ways that they want to contribute to the world and help the world as well. And that someday they’ll be out of the house trying to make the same decisions for their family and for themselves.

Connie: And those are great points because seeing that in action and then being able to make those points in real time where it actually helps and matters, they see what that looks like and feels like. I think that’s fabulous. It sounds like you communicate with them so beautifully and help them understand those things where they, instead of just saying, “oh, it’s good, I’ll be back in two hours”. You know, being able to really validate those feelings and those concerns. I love it.

So do you have, this has been so great, I’ve got all these wonderful notes and I know women listening and going to do the same thing, so just the last couple of minutes that we have together before I wrap this up, can you share any personal a-ha [moments] that maybe surprised you along the way? Something that you didn’t anticipate in the journey that you’ve taken something that’s been a surprise?

Whether there’s good, bad win, lose or draw, just something that surprised you or you didn’t, you didn’t anticipate would either happen or would be a result of you taking the steps to do marketing and teach people about it and become a speaker. You’re also the Chapter President of the National Speaking Association here in Utah. Is that correct? I have the right title. I just wanna make sure I got the right title, it’s a beautiful title. Um, and is there any thing that’s been like a personal learning thing, Aha, that you hadn’t anticipated?

Michelle: Yes, and it’s two parts.

The first is, is that I think that for a while I thought that because I was a mother, I didn’t deserve to do other things outside of that and that I needed to let what I wanted to do go, for the greater good, which to a certain extent, I believe that a fair amount of motherhood is sacrificing for your children, and I still am happy to do that.

Um, but once I believed for a minute that I had something else to offer to the world that would be beneficial. And I think about my doctor who I love, who is a woman who was there when I had two crazy C-section births and I love her so much and I am so grateful for every comment she endured as a woman. Anytime somebody said to her, why are you going back to school? Why are you being a doctor? That’s a man’s job. And I know that some of this is fairly stereotypical, but stay with me for just a minute through this.

Um, I’m so grateful for her and her and during that because I needed the feminine, that feminine influence in my life at that time and I didn’t know I needed that, but I’m so grateful for it and I’m so grateful for the way that women are showing up to provide feminine influence in many aspects and in some cases where there is an over abundance of masculine influence, which is also necessary and needed and fantastic, but there’s so much more to who we are as women than just one thing, whether it’s even just contributing or to the world or the service or whatever else, there’s so many things we can offer, and I think that we were built to offer many pieces of ourselves to other places.

And so when I allowed myself to believe that and  believe that I could have goals and I wanted to write a book and I wanted to speak and I wanted to grow my business and I wanted to share things in a powerful way and I wanted to share things spiritually and, um, podcasts and other things that have come, come along the way.

One of the things that I think surprised me the most is that the more I got into it, the more I realize that God wanted even more for me than I wanted for myself and I wanted things, but then once I realized that I could grow and expand, I realized that God was just waiting for me to believe it for myself so that he could just show me all the things that he had in store and all the places that he needed me.

And to believe that for a minute I thought I would do this on my own, not without him, but then I would move forward and blaze trails in the ways that I felt like I wanted to, but then the reality was is that with him I was able to do even more than my wildest dreams and I just had to invite him into that and I remember that being a surprise.

And I know that that sounds super simple and of course God who want the most for us, but I think that sometimes we hold ourselves back and we even hold God back and yet when we open it up to what any kind of possibility is, we get so much more than we could have even imagined.

Connie: Oh, I love it. That is so true, and just partnering with him, going to him and saying, here’s what I’m thinking, what do you think? And joining that journey together, rather than head down bull through it, you know, white knuckle through the existence, I think that’s phenomenal, and knowing that he is going to lead you along and has oftentimes already the path and you just need to walk it. Love it.

Michelle, great stuff. For those of you who may have missed some of the things at the beginning. I’m just going to recap super fast ways to be able to have better work life balance and that word we we kind of jokingly use because we know it means everything. Something different to everybody, but that being able to be at peace at the end of the day, knowing that you lived your life in a way that was fulfilling and meaningful, purposeful, joyful.

I love that she shared:
* embrace the chaos and be intentional about your day,
* use a feeling word for the day and use priorities over to dues,
* carefully use your yes-no’s and it all starts with Heavenly Father,
* over communicate with her children; that’s a great one, being able to help them know the why and,
* then those personal a-ha’s and those unexpected learning pearls that we get along the way that they are there.

So pivotal to us being able to keep in that space of growing, learning, loving and partnering with the Divine. So appreciate you sharing with us today sweetie. Great ideas for being able to deal with different challenges through faith, family, and community. Thanks for being with us today.

Michelle:  Thank you for having me.

Connie: And everybody listening, remember, whatever your challenge, come see us at the, You Got This Women! Conference March 23rd. We have an array of amazing speakers just like Michelle that will give you insights in how to deal with or live challenge through faith, family, and community. You can get your tickets at yougotthiswomen.com, and remember–You Got This.

Hi, I’m Connie Sokol and thanks for listening today to Balance reDefined. Don’t forget to rate and subscribe and if you liked it, get even more life shifting learning with my YouTube channel, with fabulous, upbeat content on everything from family, relationships, work life balance to organization, joy, and fitness. Get short or long episodes for while you relax, clean, or work out. Go to YouTube and search Connie Sokol.

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