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(We met Stacey Wacknov through Ken Jacobs, a Counselor’s Academy friend in New York. He thought we’d get along…he was right! So we asked her to guest blog about work/life balance, something we all could use more of.)

Seven o’clock on a Wednesday night, still in pajamas and glasses, teeth unbrushed, hair in a haphazard bun, a discontented cat meowing hungrily at my feet. My dry eyes tried to focus on the swimming words, while my shoulders slumped at the thought of at least two more hours of program planning and precision editing. I’d been at it for more than 12 hours and the next day promised another early start – a 5 a.m. conference call with a European colleague.

Ahhh, the glamorous life of a public relations consultant.

When I decided to pursue my own business in 2008, I barely had time to print business cards and sign a contract before my hours were overbooked. After 15 wonderful years in go-go New York City, I moved to Arizona last summer, dreaming of cracking the code – you know the one – the elusive Work/Life Balance. Mine would finally be a life where I could wake up at a decent hour, check in with my clients, run errands when the stores were empty, work late at night if I wished since I’ve always been a night owl…

Bingo about the late nights, but they followed nonstop days that started in the predawn hours. And then, an epiphany: I wasn’t running my business – it was running me.

Public relations people are natural pleasers. Strategic, savvy and smart, of course, but in the end – we simply love to please. With this passion for pleasing comes difficult advice we’ve all heard in our careers: “learn to push back.” We often spend so much energy searching for balance that “no” seems like the only option – and boy, do we despise that two-letter word. Little wonder, then, that public relations ranked #8 on the 2010 list of America’s Most Stressful Jobs, just below police officer and surgeon.

“What ever happened to yes?” I asked myself later that Wednesday night. Yes – but meant with enthusiasm and sincere anticipation. Yes – to my clients, of course, but also to myself. Yes – the answer that guarantees high risk, but also fabulous adventure.

I’ve come to realize that “Yes Time” is as important as high-quality client work – in fact, one leads to the other. For me, Yes Time translates into regular exercise, frequent travel, a four-day work week, and making moments with colleagues and friends a priority. Whether at industry events, a simple lunchtime salad, or kickback cocktail meetups, it’s not about the dreaded networking; instead, think social interaction, idea bouncing, reality checks, and personal support – essential elements that often fling out my window when it’s just me and my laptop for days on end.

And so here I am, late at night, happily doing what I love for new agency friends that I met and now adore as a direct result of Yes Time. And yes, that balance is getting closer to where I want it to be – where it works for me. What might work for you?

Abbie S. Fink
Abbie S. Fink
Vice President/General Manager Abbie has been doing public relations her whole life…from organizing a picket line in 6th grade to organizing client communications today. She’s passionate about a lot of things, you’ll see. Check out Abbie's full bio

9 Comments

  1. Great blog, Stacey. Very well put.
    Hope to see you tomorrow!
    Mike

  2. Matthew says:

    ….great piece SW.

  3. CyndeC says:

    This is a great blog post. So true.

    Will you do a follow-up blog post on how you ensure you balance your time? How do you make that Yes Time in your schedule?

    I find I am successful at it 50% of the time.

  4. I couldn’t agree more, Stacy. I would imagine that as you found more ways to say Yes to You (I think you could make that into a great campaign!) you also found that the quality of your work improved.

    In my workshops, I use the analogy of an eager event planner graciously filling everyone’s water glasses on a hot day. In the end, she’s exhausted, thirsty and hasn’t left herself a single drop, which results in a less than pleasant demeanor to share with those depending on her. When we’ve poured ourselves out without taking a break to fill back up, we have only ourselves to blame.

    We have to overcome the idea that boundaries and saying no are selfish. Indeed, they create the structure that holds us up in the end. Thanks sharing such perfect examples of making it all work together…aka balancing your life.

    Welcome to Arizona!

  5. Paul Wacknov says:

    What an outstanding way with words! I loved it and lived every moment of your vivid lifestyle description. Would this considered to be nepotism because I happen to be your grandfather and love you?
    Papa Paul

  6. THIS!!!! This is why you are the Voice of Reason, my friend. W00t!

  7. Stacey Wacknov says:

    Thanks to all for the kind comments. The idea of work/life balance has always been a bit of a struggle for me, but one that I’m slowly starting to get the hang of — though it often requires a bit of trial and error!

    CyndeC: I think the biggest hurdle is my own mental ability to prioritize. I have to tell myself (much more often than my clients) that not every request, e-mail or need is an immediate concern. Not everything has to be done TODAY…or in the next 15 minutes. This has been a big change in my M.O. over the past two years, and one that requires constant exercise since I am, by nature, an impatient person.

    Mimi: I love the analogy of the thirsty event planner. I’m working on a project right now that could use that little story as a reality check…thanks!

  8. Kristy Blackman says:

    As always Stacey, you wrote a great blog post. I loved everything about it. Hope you will do another one real soon. Love reading your stuff. Will be sending this one to Mr. Todd. Yes I will! Is that my “Yes Time”? 😉

  9. Jessie Singer says:

    Great article! I am actually doing a homework assignment on blogs right now and am going to present this one to my Doctoral class tomorrow morning as a great example. Thank you.

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