A standard procedure when I was a child revolved around family dinner being a time to catch up on each member's life and their future time activities. Social science underscores this secular belief.
Children who eat with their families have stronger vocabularies than those who don't. They do better in school. They are less likely to suffer from obesity. Family meals prevent teenage pregnancy. They are a bulwark against depression.
But what about the children of today's double-shift workers (police, firemen, nurses), second shift workers, professionals who work long days and required to travel to out-of-town locations, regional sales reps and anyone for whom a nightly meal with the family borders on the impossible? What happens when those working parents simply cannot manage to join the roughly 50% of Americans who eat with their families every day?
Family is critically important--children, parents, siblings and/or a "family" we create ourselves with friends. Each individual brings wonderful moments and memories into our lives, but each relationship also comes with its own challenges and expectations. When we add our careers on top of these, our burdens start to mount. The third level is where our own personal needs come in: fitness, spiritual life, sports, volunteer work, crafts, hobbies, and all the other activities outside the office, which are also important. When they all are stacked up, we realize that our lives have become giant balancing acts. Something has got to give!
As more women enter the workforce, and many become the primary breadwinners, there is a structural shift taking place in organizations and households. Statistics tell the story. Over 75% of women age 25-54 worked in 1998. In 2009, 66 million women were employed in the U.S. with the largest percentage (40%) in management, professional, and related occupations; 32 percent worked in sales and office occupations and 21 percent in service occupations. Today, young college-educated women in New York City and other major cities are earning more than their male counterparts. It is estimated that 870 million women who have not participated in the mainstream global economy will gain employment or start their own companies over the next decade.
Today’s women are better educated than ever before. They have accumulated a wealth of skills, have learned to be adaptable, and have been told that they can do anything they want to do. The upside is that they have become independent, self-sufficient, and confident of their abilities. The downside is that they will readily admit they have not found the enjoyment or satisfaction they once imagined. The reason they attribute to the problem is that they have taken on too much.
With every member of the family pushed for time, family members no longer have the leisure to share news of the day, discuss plans or problems, have fun together, or regularly keep in touch with others. As our expectations bounce up against reality, we recognize that only Superwoman can juggle it all...but Superwoman is not a real woman.
Although many career women have embraced the stimulation, personal rewards, and financial benefits of working outside the home, they have not offset their increased responsibilities by getting the help they need. Especially for these talented women that need to shut the door on Superwoman, we have recently released a new self-coaching guide that passes on career success secrets written by co-author Barbara McEwen and myself over the last three years.
The concept of the book came about because of the very real, very important needs that our female clients repeatably expressed in their struggles with the countless roles and duties that are routinely placed on them. That is why Barb and I, as leading executive coaches of working women in North America, have a unique understanding of female perceptions that affect their work and home life challenges along with what approaches have worked well for our women clients.
It's time to get real. There is no "Superwoman" outside the movie theater and comic books. Weary women don't get the life they want because they are too busy, too tired, and not having much fun.
Women are dancing to a frenzied beat, believing just because they can, they should. They have been taught, if they are capable of doing something, it shouldn't be necessary to look for help. This has led women to become frustrated by experiencing long days and frantic schedules. Many working women are exhausted. Isn't it time that career women reclaimed their time and life?
It's up to you to open the door of the life you want.
Source: The New York Times, October 2, 2011