If I had a nickel for every time I heard working professionals talk about the corporate ladder, I would be a nickel-made millionaire!

While the idea of being a millionaire is appealing to most, doing so by climbing the corporate ladder may seem unattainable if you strive for work-life balance.  I am able to admit now that this phrase was a driving force for the way I viewed my success for a very long time.  But, all that hard work, sacrificed time, sacrificed sleep, sacrificed relationships…

I attended a luncheon for Women & Hi Tech. The presentation was titled “What do mermaids, unicorns, and work-life balance have in common? Answer: None of them exist.” The speaker, Taryn M. Stejskal, Ph.D. of Career Consultants, was riveting and offered very sound research and objectives for female professionals.  She mentioned that this subject is one that most women note as their biggest obstacle in life. As a dedicated working professional and mother, Dr. Stejskal shared her research and steps to embrace life as it is.

  • Embrace work-life integrity:
    • Appreciate how to negotiate with integrity instead of over committing = external integrity
    • Learn to avoid the hazards of over commitment including: negative self-talk, guilt, and shame and the “shoulds” = internal integrity

We should also:

  • Embrace our lives as they are
  • Embrace ourselves for who we are
  • Embrace our choices
  • Embrace the present
  • Embrace the “crazy”

I enjoyed the discussion and felt empowered, but the limiting nature of the corporate ladder had me feeling stagnated still.  My personal, life changing revelation came in the one and only question we had time to ask her. I don’t recall the question, but I do recall the answer referenced Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In and the metaphor Pattie Sellers conceived: “Careers are a jungle gym, not a ladder.” This single phrase, which I know others have already talked about and forgotten, changed my outlook on my personal success at that exact moment.  I am exactly where I need to be at this moment for me, for my family, and for my career future. I am doing what I love with an awesome organization. If I moved right on the jungle gym instead of up the ladder, that’s perfect! It affords me the opportunity to take Dr. Stejskal’s advice- embrace work-life integrity – instead of seeking out the elusive and non-existent work-life balance.