Talk to almost any woman, and many men, and you'll hear the same complaint – Life is becoming unmanageable. I don't have time to devote to the things I care most about. Work is often the major culprit. 60-80 hour weeks are far too common. (I hear some of you saying, "80 hours – you wusses. I put in at least 100.")
I used to wear the number of hours I worked as a badge of honor. I don't anymore. I think the breaking point for me came when my father was dying. I'd check in on him whenever I could, but I didn't spend much time because I always had to get back to my computer to finish up one project or another. He was so proud of me and so understanding of my schedule. But finally, one day, as I was rushing off as usual, he grabbed my hand, looked me in the eye and croaked, "Don't run off." (He had Parkinsons and had very little voice left).
Something in me just broke. From that moment on, I said "I'm getting out. I don't know how, but I'm going to find a way."
I'm happy to say that I now run my own marketing to women consultancy. Do I still put in the long hours/work every weekend/face stress down on a daily basis? You bet. But I'm doing it on my terms and on my schedule.
Everyone has a story. And in Womenomics, you'll find you are not alone in your struggles. But the message of the book is not one of despair, but rather one of hope.
What is Womenomics?
Co-Authors Claire Shipman and Katty Kay give us this definition of Womenomics:
1. Write your own rules for success
2. How to stop juggling and struggling and finally start living and working the way you really want.
I think the following excerpt sums it up perfectly:
The workplace is changing dramatically. It's struggling to meet a talent shortage, rushing to embrace the benefits of new technology, and working to modernize itself in ways that happen to call for a more "feminine" management style. We (women) have more clout than ever before. The result will be that our desire for a saner work life will soon be embedded in all work practices. But until that happens, this is the guide to doing it for yourself. With Womenomics, you can reach a career-life balance that really does work for you, your family, your boss, and your future.
It is true that right now most of the great work lives we've uncovered are being won by stressed-out individuals. They are women, perhaps just like you, who were on the verge of quitting, and figured there was nothing to lose in attempting one last conversation with their boss to ask for a more manageable deal. They are women who have gone down on bended knee and carved out more time on the hush-hush, often sworn to secrecy by nervous employers. But they got their bit of nirvana.
For many, but certainly not for all women, the demands of young children have pushed them to have that frightening, and once unimaginable, "I need to work from home/three days a week/fewer hours/more flexibility/two hundred days a year" conversation. The maternal instinct is a huge drive behind the demand for change, but it's not the only one. We've met plenty of other women (and men) who say they've changed schedules, scaled down, or switched things around just because they want a more manageable life – no kids, no sick mom, no triathlon, no reason other than just because. Just because, let's be honest, life is short, and who doesn't want more fulfillment.
Let me make one thing clear. Most women are not saying, "I want to work less." They are saying, "I want to have more control over where and when I work."
One of the most important points I took away from Womenomics is that men and women may define "success" differently. For more on this subject, read