(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?