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Dana Brownlee is the founder of Professionalism Matters, Inc., a practical professional development training and management consulting company founded in 2003 that uses exciting methods to train business individuals and their teams to re...

Finding balance: Family vs. career

Recently, while I was dressing for my morning jog, I caught a glimpse of a CNN story about Marissa Mayer, the Yahoo CEO who had rocked the business world (and Wall Street) by announcing that she was pregnant – what nerve!

Finding the balance

There's no question that women have a constant struggle when deciding how to allocate time spent at work vs. home. The competing inertial pull of family vs. career is heart wrenching, and I definitely don't have the answer. I don't think there is one answer. For me, I know that my formula carefully considered answers to three key questions:

  1. What do I value?
  2. What can I afford?
  3. What are my talents?

The answers to these questions led me to decide to consciously develop a business where I could still maintain a professional identity and earning potential while having the flexibility to spend significant amounts of time at home (by the way, not just with my kids, but also doing things that I enjoy as an individual). Actually, when I started the business and embraced this philosophy, I was single with no children. This made it much easier to find a work and life balance later in life once I did marry and have children.

I must admit that I haven't done everything perfectly, and my business model exposes me to the challenges of both working moms and stay-at-home moms. I still remember the tears in my eyes during a business trip when TSA confiscated my breast milk freezer compartment because it contained liquid, and I'll never forget my embarrassment having to pump leaning over the sink in my client's bathroom (smiling at women as they washed their hands and wondered why I couldn't find a more appropriate place to pump). Equally challenging was the never ending struggle during my days at home to provide my children a structured, yet entertaining, and instructional day while juggling cable repair appointments, healthy meal preparation, grocery shopping, organizing kids' clothes drawers, and of course…cleaning! Because I can relate to both camps, I refuse to participate in the ongoing debate demonizing both sides between stay-at-home moms and working moms.

Indeed, I admire and respect both groups, and I feel strongly that women have the complete right to choose how to design their lives. I've chosen a hybrid career model, and I love my choice. My wish for all women is not that they make my choice, or anyone else's, but instead make their own choice consciously and in a manner that is consistent with their own value system, financial realities and unique talents. To me, one of the saddest things is to spend your life trying to be successful, only to realize that the prize you won wasn't even what you wanted in the first place — check the prize before you play the game.

More about work-family balance

Mommy entrepreneur recipe
Practicing gratitude: Refocusing on what's important
Work-life balance trumps money

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