The Truth About Work-Life Balance

One of the most overused phrases out right now (more overused than "stay woke") is work-life balance.

It's often thrown around by employers trying their best to attract new talent.

Look, I get it.

These days people care about flexibility and balance as much as, if not more than they care about pay.

We love life as much as we love work.

But this so-called ‘balance’ cited by many recruiters and managers as a way to seduce job seekers and even written into many benefits policies at companies all across the country, is mostly just a game of smoke and mirrors.

It's not real, y'all.

Few people know what it means to truly have work-life balance and even fewer can actually say they get to experience this phenomenon in all its glory.

The key to work-life balance is this: You've got to realize that it’s less of a balancing act and more of an exercise in integration.

97% of us have a job, which means that 97% of us will spend about 1/3 of our lives at work. With proportions like this, there may never be an opportunity to balance every single piece of our lives perfectly.

Yes, flexible work arrangements and telecommuting options definitely help, but instead of focusing on number of hours clocked, you should be focusing on creating a balanced mindset – better yet a lifestyle – that allows you to thrive both inside and outside the cubicle.

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"Balance isn't about focusing on the hours you work, it's about focusing on creating a lifestyle where you thrive inside and outside the cubicle."

So, how can you do it? How can you experience real balance that allows you to kill it at work and in life?

Here are 4 tips to help you achieve more work-life balance instantly.

Prioritize what’s important to you outside of work

Take a long, honest look at what you truly value in life. Is it focusing on health and wellness? Volunteering in your community? Experiencing quiet and uninterrupted alone time? Make a list of all the things you want to experience in your life on a normal basis and rank them in order of priority. Go deeper than just saying – I want to spend more time with my family. Really think about what that actually means for you. Do you want x amount of date nights with your partner every month? Do you want to chaperone the next field trip at your child’s school? Get really specific.

Carve out time for what’s important

Once you’ve identified what you want to focus on in life, you've got to make time in your schedule to actually do these things. If your idea of balance means taking more vacations, then pull out your calendar and block off the days you'll take your next trip. If you want to begin meditating, then set your alarm 30 minutes earlier, go to bed later, or use some time during your lunch break. We all find the time to do the things that are important to us and now that you’ve identified your life priorities, you have to ensure you make time to experience them.

Commit to not making sacrifices

Once you’ve made the time in your schedule to spend on the things you value outside of work, protect this time at all costs! It's not OK to push your scheduled gym time to the side so that you can pull an all-nighter at work. It's not OK to miss your niece’s dance recital because you want to proof read your presentation a couple more times before you submit it. Of course, unexpected things come up sometimes and we have to be flexible, but when you're missing more appointments than you're keeping, work and life are not in balance.

Be present

This is the most important tip of all. When you’re at work – be sure you're 100% focused on what you’re doing there. Don’t surf the Internet or lurk on Instagram when you’re supposed to be paying attention in a meeting or completing a project. Focus on the task in front of you and commit to being productive.

This will make it easier for you to do the second part of this tip, which is – when you’re off, be off. Don’t constantly check your work emails or log on from home just to “fix one small thing”. It’s important that you're present in whatever you’re focusing your energy on at the given moment.

Making a living is typically the priority for most of us, but I challenge you to make living the priority. By the time most people get to retirement age, I guarantee they're not wishing they had spent more time in the office and less time doing things they truly loved.

Be deliberate about prioritizing the things that are important to you. You'll be much happier in the end.

The topic of work-life balance is truly important to me and something I love to teach women about. If you'd be interested in a free video workshop on how to achieve work-life balance for yourself, join the VIP list by clicking here.

No B.S. Career Advice from Working Mom - Nichole Bailey

For working moms, the work day doesn't end at 5:00 when it's time to leave the office. Besides work commitments, there are also many commitments at home that need to be taken care of. I always think it's fascinating to hear how other working moms juggle life and work and what their specific routines are. Below is a peek into the world of working mom, Nichole.

My name is Nichole and I'm a working mom of 2 children - a girl and a boy.

My working mom life is currently evolving, after 7 years working in Compliance at American Express Corp., putting in 13 hour work days, sacrificing countless family time, and being passed up for a promotion in the process, I decided to re-assess and evaluate my professional relationship and my career trajectory with the company. After careful consideration I decided to pursue a role with their major competitor, JP Morgan & Chase. Still in a Compliance role, I'm working more on the Operational Risk side of the business in a management capacity and I'm getting acclimated to that. My evenings with my family are mine, and my overall stress level has subsided tremendously.

As a working mother I've always sought out companies that valued one of my core values- work life balance. This was a significant factor when thinking about growing my family & deciding to work for American Express and would be equally as important as a mom withtwo young children in elementary school deciding to leave American Express. Being able to pick my kids up from school, attend school activities, volunteer,  be present for extracurricular activities are staples I don't want to compromise for a paycheck or a title.

My greatest professional goal right now is to navigate within the culture of my new firm. After being with a company for 7+ years. There's a lot of institutional knowledge and subject matter expertise that is developed and ingrained.  Finding how to leverage and transition this expertise elsewhere is my current goal.

I don't have a fear in accomplishing this goal as I know it's attainable with time and dedication. I've resolved to the fact that it's not enough to keep your head down working and waiting for accolades.  It's imperative to network, charter your course, navigate and be seen.

Every day I'm pushing past the fear and trying to challengethe status quo. My goal is to break the glass ceiling as a double minority. I'm a woman and African American. I'm a working mother - which also means my contribution in at work may have different constraints than my counter parts who are male, don't have children or who have different child care options. My husband (who also is in Corporate banking) and I solely manage the drop off/ pick up of our children. That says a lot on the limitations in work hours we can give onsite.

My no B.S. advice for other working mothers is to manage the process before the process manages you.

Long gone are the days where we act like our families don't exist. Where we put in the work to be acknowledged professionally but are failing in our private lives. Long gone are the days we are expected as women to re-enter the home at the end of the day as if we never left. We have to manage both ends of the process so we can operate at our highest frequency.

The good news is, It can be done!

3 Pieces of Career Advice I Wish I'd Had in My 20s


I'd like to think that when people look at me, they see a woman who’s got her stuff together – someone who is sure of herself and her career.  I am a career coach and HR professional and have the opportunity to do something for work that I love and am good at. 

I’ve hit the career lottery, but I can assure you, this hasn’t always been the case.

Throughout my time in college, I just knew I was going to become a therapist. I declared the right major, got the right grades and was accepted into an Ivy League clinical psychology program when I graduated.

Everything in my life seemed to be falling into place, which is why I stunned everyone around me (including myself) by writing a letter to the admissions office, asking to defer my acceptance into the grad program for one year.

The idea was to accept a full time job, where I'd be supporting a trading desk at an investment bank in NYC. I had it all planned - I would only stay there for one year while I saved some money to provide a cushion for when I went to grad school for my Masters and then Ph.D. Never mind that I had no interest or experience with anything related to Wall Street – that was irrelevant.   Fast forward 10+ years later, and I never made it back to get those degrees.

Although my career path has been unexpected to say the least, I've learned a lot about the world of work, human beings in general, and myself over the past decade in Corporate America.

I’m sure I could go on for hours with encouraging words of wisdom and advice (like how many hours of sleep I actually need and how I do my best work a few hours before a deadline), but the biggest career lessons I’ve learned can be boiled down to 3 main points.


This is a concept that I really wish I'd grasped earlier on in my career. I spent the better part of 5 years going through the motions every day and letting my career be dictated to me by my company, my boss and my family. If I'm being honest, the decision to abandon...I mean defer grad school and enter corporate America was solely to please other people. I never felt anyone truly believed in my dream to become a therapist, and even those that did, were still convinced it would never make me any real money.

Sure, I was paid well on Wall Street, but my hours, wardrobe, interests, and social life were controlled by my job. What good is making a lot of money if you’re working 12-hour days and weekends, never given the chance to enjoy it?


The beginning of my career – before the husband, the kid and the mortgage – would've been the perfect time to explore some of my riskier dreams and passions. I've always wanted to work and live abroad, become a teacher, work for a non-profit and join the Peace Corps.

While I know I can still accomplish at least one of these things and there's no expiration date on going after a dream, I have to admit that it's a lot more challenging to do so with a 2 year old in tow, no matter how adorable she may be.


I knew on my second day at that investment bank that it wasn't the right fit for me. Yet, even with that knowledge, it took five years before I did anything about it.  That's five years of not working in my purpose, five years of mindless, soul crushing work and five years of unnecessary stress that led to weight gain, health issues and sad times.  Looking back, I can tell you that I was paralyzed by fear – of failure, change, and the unknown.

Would my career journey have been easier if I knew then what I know now? Sure. Would I have ended up in a drastically different place than I am today?  Maybe not.  Eleven years after college graduation, I can tell you with 100% certainty that I have zero interest in being anyone’s therapist.  I also believe that I would've come to this same conclusion even if I went off to the Ivy League instead of Wall Street.

We spend most of our waking hours at work, and while it would be amazing if every person were given a step-by-step, specific blueprint of how to navigate the 40-50 years they spend at work, this just doesn't happen. The best we can all do is to learn from our mistakes and have the courage to change direction when the current path isn't working.  This is my goal every single day and I hope it's yours as well.

If you're currently on a career path and you think it's time for a bit of course correction of your own, check out the Career Makeover toolkit. My free 5 day guide to transforming your career into the one you've always wanted.

4 Realistic Ways to Steer Clear of Office Drama (Without Being a Goody Two-Shoes)


Working with people you like and enjoy speaking with—especially about non-work related topics—makes the eight hours most of us spend at our jobs every day more enjoyable. There are so many aspects of work that can be a little bit (or very) irritating. Things like having a long commute, working irregular hours, or dealing with a difficult boss only scratch the surface of the many reasons people hate Mondays.

This is why it’s like a breath of fresh air when you wind up in a situation where your colleagues are easy-going, normal human beings—people you can not only collaborate with on a work project, but also debate your thoughts on Sunday night TV. People to grab a happy hour drink with or vent to about the latest annoying thing your boss said at Friday’s team meeting.

But, how do you know when you’ve crossed the almost microscopic line of sharing personal frustration and observations about work to the dark side of gossiping?

Read the rest of my article over at The Daily Muse!

Let me know what you think!


3 Strategies You Can Use To Stay One Step Ahead of HR, Your Boss And Your Company At All Times

Screenshot 2016-07-18 10.55.47I've been in HR since 2010 and during this time I've learned a lot about how decisions are made on employees. In the past 6 years I've done the hiring and (unfortunate) firing as well as everything in between for thousands of employees. I've had the opportunity to recruit and interview potential candidates, design and deliver training courses, create programs and initiatives and coach employees from all backgrounds on how to navigate their careers.

Although there are many great things that HR makes possible for the employees at a given company, the underlying secret that all HR professionals know is that - everyone is replaceable. Although we as employees tend to grow attached to our jobs, the company overall is only attached to their bottom line and sometimes this comes at the expense of their employee's jobs.

Because we are all replaceable (and this includes HR themselves - I've been laid off before), something that I teach every single one of my clients is how to remain one step ahead of HR (their boss and their company) at all times.

Check out the strategies below.

The 3 Strategies You Can Use To Stay One Step Ahead of HR, Your Boss And Your Company At All Times

Be Real With Yourself

A lot of times when it comes to our careers, we are in denial. One of the toughest parts of my job is delivering the news to an employee that s/he is being let go. Something that a lot of employees say is that they didn't see it coming.  I must admit, I felt the exact same way when I myself was being laid off. I was a top performer. I was getting paid a lot of money. I'd given so many years to the company. So what do you mean my position has been eliminated?

The mistake I made back then (and what a lot of people make) is believing the hype. My eyes  used to glaze over with pride when my boss would tell me how well I was doing at the company. Listen, no matter how amazing you are, YOU ARE REPLACEABLE. The sooner you acknowledge this fact, the better off you'll be. It's hard to plan for your next move, if you think your current situation will never come to an end.

Make Friends With HR (And Your Boss)

And no, I don't mean in a fake and sleazy sort of way. But, you should definitely make it your business to have a link to the inside. Of course, as HR professionals and managers, we can't give you the heads up that your job is being eliminated or give you the details of an ongoing investigation you or your coworker is involved in, but as you begin to get to know HR and your boss a little better, you'll start to realize when trouble is on the horizon and make your own preparations accordingly.

I am work friends with a lot of my clients. And although I never give them any specifics, I'm always there as a resource to help coach them through developing their careers and helping them to make the best decisions for their own professional growth. Having a mentor/coach at work that is actually part of the decision making process is one of the smartest career moves you can make and in fact it's how I was able to transfer into HR in the first place.

Always Have Your Ducks In A Row

This is the most important strategy of all. You should be prepared at all times. Ever heard of the saying "You've got to stay ready so you never have to get ready"? This is so true. You should always have an up to date resume, be networking all the time, taking training courses and have an idea of what you want your next career move to be.

It took me a very long time to find a new gig after I was laid off.The first 5 months were spent on the couch feeling sorry for myself and being unsure of what I wanted to do next. Don't let this be you.  It wasn't until I put a real career strategy together that I was able to land an amazing job in less than 30 days. Planning and preparation is key.

The moral of this story isn't for you to be scared each day when you go into work, but actually the exact opposite. You should feel empowered and less anxious after you start using these strategies. Knowing that you're prepared for whatever comes your way allows you to feel more confident in yourself and your abilities.

Want me to help you finally put the right plan in place to transform your career into an amazing, fulfilling and lucrative one?