Hey working mama, this one’s for you.
This is for those of you crushing it, day after day, and for those of you who sometimes feel like maybe it’s all too much.
We want you to know that it’s okay.
It’s okay to feel like Wonder Woman when you have a great day and it’s also okay to feel like all the balls you’re juggling have suddenly burst into flames and set your house on fire.
We were so fortunate to have our very own Meg Zelman on the #FlipMyFunnel Podcast to speak with us about her journey of returning to work after having a baby. Meg is a senior account executive at Terminus and recently returned to work after giving birth to her son, Henry, late last year.
In what turned out to be a really fun interview, Meg shared the following insights with us about what she’s learned (so far!) about finding harmony, fun, and balance amidst the demands of work and family and how she just keeps being a rockstar, day after day!
Shifting Between the Three Gears of Life
Every parent will tell you that once you have kids, there are suddenly fewer hours in the day.
Obviously not literally, but time you once spent bingeing Netflix or sleeping in is now either non-existent or seriously diminished.
If you want any hope of creating a balanced life, you’ll have to be strategic and intentional with the time you spend in each of three “gears” of life: work, family, and personal.
A well-balanced life is one where you can effortlessly and efficiently switch from work life to family life to personal life, without loss of time in any gear.
Easier said than done, but those women who are doing it well know they have to be conscientious about spending their time with a sharp intentionality. Work time doesn’t impose on their family time and they give value to personal care time, knowing self-care is important to the functionality of the other two gears.
Assigning this kind of value to your time can actually make you both a better mom and a better employee as you learn to make the most of the hours you’re at home and the hours you’re at work.
1. Seek 1% Improvement Every Day
Meg loves yoga.
Between motherhood and being a top-notch account executive, she keeps busy but still tries to get to yoga once per week.
Her yoga teacher will often say, “It’s not as much about what the shape looks like as it is about making the shape.”
This idea inspires Meg to move past the pull of perfectionism and start trying new things — to start the process and improve from there.
The perfect email, perfect call, or perfect meeting is never going to happen, and Meg realized that chasing those things was too much. She was going to drive herself crazy!
One thing she realized she could control was trying to do things 1% better every single day.
She gave herself permission to fail. Not to be sloppy, but to be realistic. Doing something is more important than not doing anything.
Nine times out of ten, people are too afraid to try something, stuck waiting for the perfect conditions.
Action will breed confidence. The simple action of making attempts, failing, and then continuing to try is worth far more than any of your planning. Iterate on your process and remember, there’s not one inherently right way of doing things.
The more you do that, the more beautiful your “mess” will become!
2. Know Your Glass Balls from Your Rubber Balls
When Meg started back at work a few months ago, she quickly realized she needed a new way to prioritize the unending to-do list she had. Her husband suggested labelling tasks as either glass balls or rubber balls.
A glass ball task is something that, if it doesn’t get done today, it will break.
A rubber ball, by contrast, is something that can bounce around for a little while and still be okay.
Meg uses these metaphors to create a literal to-do list every morning with one column for glass ball to-dos and one for rubber ball to-dos.
It’s a tangible way she has found to create boundaries that relieve some of the pressure of trying to get everything done, while protecting and valuing the time she has with her family.
3. Always Be Learning
Adopting the mindset of a lifelong learner has more benefits than can ever be stated.
It’s especially true when you’re ramping up or things are changing quickly. Learning from your peers and your managers can help you stay ahead of the curve and keep you engaged with your work and those around you.
Meg and her team use a tool called Gong to listen to their sales calls to find areas to improve. Gong records every sales call that is made, so you can listen to other people’s calls as well as your own.
When Meg started her job at Terminus, she listened to about three to four hours of calls per day. She listened in the car, on walks—anywhere and anytime she could!
It can take a while to internalize and process what you learn from these calls, so Meg immersed herself in the recordings, keeping a record of the most successful techniques that others used.
Some sellers were more academic, while some were more relaxed. Each style worked differently, but she simply recorded whatever resonated with her as means to keep learning and keep improving.
Another method Meg uses to keep learning is by listening to podcasts to stay current with what’s going on in the market.
Some of Meg’s favorite podcasts are more conversational, while some are more tactical. Make sure you’re ready to take notes on the tactical ones!
Being a true learner for life, now that Meg has become a mom (and returned to working full-time) she continues to listen to podcasts and at least one call per day so she can keep growing.
4. Enjoy the Process
Sales can be frustrating.
You can run a great sales process and the prospect still might not make a purchase. And unlike most classes in school, an A+ effort doesn’t always lead to passing results.
You could lose a sale because your solution may not be a priority to your potential client, or maybe it’s simply that it falls outside of their budget. These things are out of your control.
Part of embracing and enjoying the process means Meg has learned to focus on the long-term journey more than the individual wins and losses. This holds true for her work, family, and personal life.
In the words of one of Meg’s friends, she embraces life by “making the most of her visit to this planet.” It’s this point of view that Meg finds refreshing, and it helps her to see every single day as an opportunity to look for joy.
Meg finds that inspirational reading is incredibly helpful to embracing the bigger picture.
And Mama, It’s Okay
It’s okay to feel overwhelmed.
It’s okay to take a break.
It’s okay to come back to work after being home with your child and feel confused about your priorities.
It’s okay to have days where your work life and family life and personal life look like one big, jumbled mess.
You have permission to cry and question how you will ever find any balance.
If you are feeling anxious or nervous, just try your best to embrace the journey. Find ways to find perspective, and remember that motherhood ebbs and flows in seasons.
Know that it might be rocky, but also know that by placing value on and intention in your where you spend your time, you can still foster beautiful and intimate relationships with your children as much as you would if you were a stay-at-home mom.
You don’t have to sacrifice being great at your job for being great at motherhood. They aren’t mutually exclusive. It’s finding that balance of learning, growing, getting a little better every single day, and also giving yourself space to do it in.
This post is based on an interview with Meg Zelman from Terminus. To hear this episode, and many more like it, subscribe to the #FlipMyFunnel Podcast on iTunes.
If you don’t use iTunes, you can listen to every episode here.