GUEST CONTRIBUTOR: ALLIE HARMON
For the better part of a year now, I’ve enjoyed working as a remote virtual assistant for two young entrepreneurs. Coming from a more traditional work life (I previously worked as a project manager for a large interior design and interior finishing firm) where I clocked 8++ hour days, 5 days a week, this change has been refreshing, eye-opening and beneficial on more levels than I could have imagined.
Sometimes, when you’re making a change, the best way is to go all in. When my husband and I decided to move from our beloved mountain town of Jackson Hole back to the South to switch things up and be closer to my family (as we anticipated wanting to start a family of our own), we knew we would be making adjustments on every level of our lives. Gone would be late summer evenings filled with sunset fly fishing (although, if you’re eager and determined enough, you can find spots anywhere as evidenced by my husband in Virginia!). Weekend hiking or cross country skiing in Grand Teton National Park and floats down the Snake River would be reserved to our visits back to Wyoming now. Moose and grizzlies in the backyard would be replaced by deer…and lots of them. Knowing this and excited for our next chapter, we bid farewell to the 600+” snowy season full of snowboarding and hot toddies and packed up our two dogs for the 2,400 mile drive.
Now that my husband and I are expecting our first child (any day now!), I am grateful daily for the choices we made, instincts we followed and this new life of flexibility we have carefully created for our growing family. Will I miss paid maternity leave from a company? Absolutely. Is it downright brutal to pay for health insurance as two self-employed adults (plus one)? Of course. And without an offered 401K or additional retirement benefits from a larger company, it really does come down to monthly planning and sound financial advice to continue a savings program.
However, all of that being said, when I found out I was pregnant, I knew those self-employment “grievances” would pale in comparison to both of us being able to be home, focused (albeit sleep deprived) and able to take the time off WE find beneficial to our family, not what is designated by an employee handbook or federal regulation. And while I’ve had plenty of friends and true rockstar, role-model mothers handle a shortened maternity leave, daycare interviews and covertly pumping between boardroom meetings show the other end of the spectrum can be just as fulfilling, for me personally, I feel beyond lucky to have the flexibility and freedom to work part-time and remotely from my cozy home office with a sweet little bassinet by my side.
I’m also incredibly grateful to have partnered with like-minded entrepreneurs and truly believe the other half of the equation in the work-life balance scenario is who you work with and how you interact during the “work” portion. In my opinion, when people are truly flourishing doing what they love (hello, Sweetspot!) they are naturally more accommodating, flexible and open minded to not only their clients and business relationships but also their coworkers. When you remove the “forced” aspect of a job and instead approach it as a choice that you’ve willingly and happily made (and created) for yourself, the mentality becomes much more team-oriented with an overall “common-good” goal. Yes, of course there are metrics to meet, budgets to balance, deadlines and tricky or downright difficult situations, but with the right team mentality and internal balance from both the team leaders and their support system, the “work” portion also flourishes.
There are so many ever-evolving parts of life – and at different times different portions will speak louder and more clearly or simply require more attention than others. I think the goal is to have a work-life balance in place so when something knocks louder, you can answer accordingly and with the freedom to re-prioritize. I am so excited to start writing my next chapter as a new mother and appreciate daily the new balance I’ve achieved thus far that is allowing me to enter this mega event with more confidence than I would have had in the past.
And that’s the thing with balance – it really is a revolving achievement. Balance isn’t permanent and constantly needs to be recalibrated and fine tuned. It’s just up to us to provide the time for those balancing adjustments.
(Allie is part of the Greenhouse team, as a virtual assistant, project manager, and general awesome person. She brings a wealth of experiences and wisdom to the team.)