How women in business can “lean in”
“Professional women often struggle as they try to balance their work and personal roles, while still trying to grow in both,” according to Alexandra Escobar, who holds a master’s degree in education and is campus college chair for the College of Education at the University of Phoenix South Florida Campus.
The campus hosted a panel discussion this past June on Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s bestseller, “Lean In.” Here, Escobar shares her tips for working women:
Don’t try to do it all.
Escobar rejects the stereotype of women who simultaneously keep a clean house, raise children and climb the corporate ladder. “Trying to do 100 percent all the time just isn’t sustainable,” she says. Escobar works late only when necessary and is selective about which of her children’s school functions she attends. “Learn to say no,” she advises, “so you can say yes to what’s really important.”
Maintain a support system.
Develop a network of family, friends and co-workers who can help you, Escobar emphasizes. “In our quest for perfection, sometimes we hesitate to ask for help or delegate,” she says, noting that she’s thankful for a supportive husband and work team.
Escobar suggests that working mothers reach out for help with kids, chores and personal issues. “Do babysitting swaps with friends and run errands for each other,” she says. “But don’t take advantage, either — it needs to be a two-way street.”
“Determine what it is that brings you the greatest joy and what causes the greatest amount of stress,” Escobar says, and then develop a plan to address each of them.
“I love a clean house, and it’s hard to take out time for deep cleaning,” she explains. So she hires a biweekly cleaning service and cuts expenses in other areas. “It’s great to come home to a clean house, and it helps me concentrate on work and spend more time with family.”
Keep things in perspective.
Escobar believes it’s a waste of energy to compare yourself with others. “I have a friend who feeds her family gourmet organic meals every single night, but that’s just not possible for us,” she says. Instead, Escobar advises eating healthy but also being practical while keeping a positive outlook.
“Eliminate negative self-talk, like ‘I wish I had more money,’” she says. “Instead, celebrate what you do have. When you’re optimistic, you’re happier, and happier people do better at work and life.”
Women often don’t speak up about their ambitions and instead wait for opportunities to come to them. That’s a mistake, Escobar argues. “Having a vision and working toward it is key — even if you don’t always succeed,” she says.
Relax and unwind.
Successful women understand the importance of down time, Escobar notes. She suggests taking vacations, finding a hobby, joining a gym or having a monthly date night with your partner.
“To be a productive worker, you need to do more than just your job — even If you love it,” she says. “It’s important to take time for yourself, too.”