Friday, November 30, 2012

Work Life Balance Part 1

Last week, I once again had the pleasure of attending a Young Women of Influence Evening Series. The previous one I attending was both a great social evening as well as a very motivational night. You can read my post on "7 tips for negotiating your graduate career" to find out more of what I took away from it.

This time around, the topic of the event was "Work Life Balance" and rather than have one woman talk about it they had a panel of 3 successful Calgary Women. Once again, like any good graduate student, I diligently took notes. Here's some highlights of what these women had to say.

Lesley Scorgie (Website/Twitter)

She's a best selling author of the books "Rich by 30: A young adult's guide to financial success" and "Rich by 40: A young couple's guide to building net worth." And considering the state of my own personal finances... I'm thinking these books might be in my near future. Lesley is passionate about educating young people about financial literacy, a topic her own mother introduced to her at a young age. In fact, Lesley was so well on her way to being rich by 30 that she was featured on Oprah when she was only 17 to talk about it. There is no doubt that Lesley has the work side of things down pat, so what does she have to say about life, and balance?

When asked what does balance look like to you?
"You could spend years and decades trying to find perfect balance... but really it doesn't exist....don't beat yourself up over it."
Her best advice:
Be present in your work when you're working, and your life/relationships when you're living.
Early on she made the mistake of saying yes to everything, and her time evaporated. You need filters for what's worth your time and what's not.

The lessons she learned:
  1. How to prioritize her time.
  2. To do this properly... How to value your time.

How to do this? Make a time wheel! Then pick the aspects of your life you need to prioritize/mean the most to you, and protect that time.

This sounded like a great idea to me and is definitely an exercise I plan on doing in the near future....only problem... I need to find the time to do it! 

Leslie is newly 29, and when asked the question "How important is it to you to have a family of your own?" she laughed because someone is always asking when will you get married and have babies it seems. But right now she says she definitely wants a family some day, and hopefully not too far away. She's spent the last 10 years all on her career, but in the past year has made a vow to herself to shift towards greater balance. She advised that you have to follow your heart and do what's right for you. Everyone else and their dog will have an opinion on what you should be doing; but those opinions don't matter.

And finally her biggest piece of advice, was you can work on your career all you want, but at the end of the day your personal relationships are all you have left, so don't forget to nurture them too!

Lesley, being closest to my stage of the game (despite being wildly more successful than I am) was who I related to the most of this panel. But you can expect to see a Part 2 of this post featuring wisdom from Nancy Foster and Part 3 featuring Mellisa Gunning in the next couple days.

Once again thank you to the people at Women of Influence for inviting me out to your events!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

What is Success to Me?

This post comes to you by way of a 20 something blogger prompt. They posed the questions:
  • What is success?
  • What does it mean to be successful?
  • How do you want to be successful?
and I kind of love those questions. Here's why.

When I think of success, in a big picture sort of way, I often think of it as being something many many years down the road for me... I mean I'm looking at a couple more years to finish this PhD and likely up to 5 years post doc work, before hopefully getting an academic position somewhere. The end of my career path is something so far off, it's hard to see, or more importantly see the steps that will get me there.

This may just be my personal outlook, or a result of taking the grad school route; but I think its something that many people of my generation can relate to. I mean more and more of us are staying in schooling until our late 20s, and even with that will change career paths a couple times...Success just seems far off to the average 20-something (or once again, maybe that's just me).

So I think that we need to instead look at smaller successes, the little milestones rather than the big picture.

Do I consider myself a successful person?

  • Well I have a B.Sc. Hons in Biology and Pharmacology from a great school (McMaster).
  • I am pursuing a PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at a great school (U Calgary).
  • My studies are fully funded by the provincial government through a grant I was awarded (highly competitive)
  • I have 3 publications to show for work I did during undergrad.
  • I've travelled to national and international conferences to discuss my science with some of the leaders in my field.
  • I have a work life I love (despite the stress sometimes) a home life I love, a family I love.
  • I am perfectly happy with where I am and who I am right now.
So yeah overall I consider myself a successful person. But there a lot's of milestones ahead of me... things I still want/need to accomplish. People and peers whom I look up to and wish to emulate (professionally and personally). I think the big picture on success is that it's often not tangible to look forwards too, but rather something that you should reflect back on.

(Although today I am looking forward to success with the western blots I'm finishing on a weekend... and hopefully I'll be able to reflect back on it when I show them proudly to my supervisor next's hoping!)
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