We are living in a very stressful time in the world while trying to protect our health as well as continue our day to day living and continue with business as usual. As business owners and employees, we are often too busy to take time out for our own wellbeing and more often than not we tend to put our mental and emotional needs aside.
It is so important for us to ensure that we too feel safe and comforted as we are unable to perform optimally while feeling stressed and suffering from burnout and exhaustion.
I recently came across the Danish phenomenon of Hygge. Although at first one might feel skeptical and dismiss such a “whimsical and artsy” idea. Just try it and you will discover the change it can create in your life.
One needs to only take a few minutes per day to recharge and remove ourselves from our lives in order to gain perspective. All you need I a space to reconnect and be present. In this way you will be able to recognize and enjoy the moment you are in and gain clarity on what is important.
Hygge is not something that you can buy, its existence is in the complete absence of stress and feeds off feelings of happiness and relaxation. There are many ways to practice Hygge from creating a space in your home where you can unwind without disturbance, where you feel comfortable and have things surrounding you that bring you comfort and joy.
Set aside a brief moment of time in your day where you know that you will not be disturbed and clear your mind thinking back on all the good that you have in your life and all you have achieved. Remove the negative and do not think of what could or has gone wrong. Just live in that moment of contentment. You can light a candle and enjoy a cup of tea or coffee in your favourite china cup.
Take the time to create a tasty, nutritious and aesthetically pleasing meal. Use your good plates and candles, create a calming atmosphere and play your favourite music. Don’t sit in front of the television or in front of your computer, don’t eat your hastily prepared meal in the kitchen before running off. Go sit outside and eat your meal and enjoy nature. Eat mindfully.
Clean out your home and office from clutter and only keep what is necessary. By clearing out your living and working space you are clearing your mind to only what is important.
Take time to be present with those that are important in your life. Remove all distractions such as phones and televisions. You will be surprised at how your relationships evolve and what you can learn about each other. Take time to listen to what they have to say instead of thinking of the next thing is you need to say. Just listen and be. Sometimes just being with another human and interacting mindfully can be more therapeutic and relaxing than any form of therapy.
Hygge should ultimately become a natural extension of your daily life and you will find that your 15 to 30 minutes per day in one corner of your living space can ultimately extend to your whole life so that you are living each day mindfully and being present in the now.
Mom guilt, we’ve all been there!
Where is “there” you ask. “There” is the in between sweet spot where you have a flourishing career on the one side, you are the boss, the main tool in the shed, and the go to woman for everything, and then the other side where you are supermom, mom in a million, mom there for every step, every meal, every bath, every laugh, every new obstacle faced and overcome. It’s the sweet spot. The one I am still searching for.
I still look back and have a good laugh, before my little girl was born my maternity leave was two weeks. Yes, two weeks. I had no idea why everyone looked at me like I was crazy. I was going to be the woman who had her baby, had two weeks at home but then would be back on my feet, working from home or the office, baby in routine, sleeping well and this new bundle of joy would be slotting into my well planned out mommy and work sweet spot. Well two weeks, became one month, and one month turned into three months and three months turned into five months. And then I was ready to roll out on my own. Dress for success, leave my baby at home with the nanny and go out and conquer the world. And then there was a feeling, a feeling I had never felt before, what could it be? Enter mom guilt.
Up to this point, I had focused on spending time with the nanny so that I felt comfortable to leave my little one at home, prepped every evening for the next day to ensure nothing was forgotten and every meal planned. My super-nanny was amazing, and my baby girl was so happy, she wouldn’t even notice if I left home for a while. But still I would sit at work, or during the day find myself feeling guilty for number one enjoying the time to myself, for being able to sit and get my work done and not just be a mom for the day. And secondly for not being at home, worrying that she was going to do something, and I wasn’t there to see it, for not being the one feeding and changing and putting her to sleep. I started to question if I was being a good mom. If I should look at rather being a stay at home mom and rather not have to deal with my own guilt.
While dealing with my mom guilt and on my way to resignation station, I started trying to find a balance, finding the sweet spot as I put it. When does work come first and when does my child and family come first? And the simple truth is that my family will always come first but I also come first, me, myself, mom. I enjoy my job and working with people and enjoy adult conversation. I also have to have a place. And that place is during the day while doing my job or running errands for my family and in the mornings and afternoons with my little girl.
Being a mom is not easy, it is probably the hardest task I have ever encountered and the toughest full-time job, I cannot resign from. When things get tough, I have to dig in my heals and carry on. If I have to give anyone advise on how to deal with mom guilt it would be:
Number 1: don’t feel bad about having mom guilt
It is going to happen, and it does not make you any worse of a person or mom. Its normal to feel sad that you are not with your little one.
Number 2: enjoy your time away
I have found that being away for a couple of hours, allows me to cherish the time that I am at home more, and I am happier for it. I allow myself to give 100% at work and then 100% at home.
Number 3: give yourself enough time at home
Two weeks is not enough time, believe me, you need a good solid five months at home to get to know your little one, be with your nanny and your little one together and build up a relationship between the three of you, and by the five months mark you will be ready to step back into the world as you, not as a mom, but as you.
Number 4: know that your little one will always be number 1
No matter where you spend the day, you are going home to your little one and your family at the end of it all. That is where your heart will always belong.
Number 5: someone else’s opinion doesn’t matter
I am of the opinion that others make us feel more guilty than we need to. Try not to listen to what others think and what they have done. You know yourself and you know your baby. If you are not comfortable with something, don’t do it. If it works for you and your baby, then it’s the right thing to do.
Number 6: take time
Time is all the medicine you will need. Take each day as it comes, and you will find your rhythm.
So I missed resignation station and went straight onto finding my sweet spot. Some days are better than others but each and every day I get up and try my best. I still evaluate my days and weeks and if something doesn’t work or doesn’t feel right, I don’t force it, I merely try it a different way until it fits.
You do you, Mommy, everything else will slot in as it needs to, and soon you will be finding your own “sweet spot.”
What Makes Women Better Virtual Assistants?
I am woman, hear me roar! It is Women’s Month in South Africa and we are celebrating all women in all shapes and forms and saying – YES! You are strong. You are capable. You are loved. You are part of a tribe that cannot be broken.
The date, 9 August is the day we celebrate Women’s Day here in South Africa, and it is not to be confused with the International Women’s Day which takes place globally in March. This date, 9 August, is significant to us as a nation due to the fact that a plethora of women, regardless of age and race, stood together and marched to the Union Buildings declaring the need for the abolishment of passes which women needed to have to move around freely – I mean really now – how was this even a thing at all??
But anyway, due that movement and the amazing women who stood together then – and for those who stand together today and shall stand together (hopefully) going forward, women have being liberated and are free to go wherever they want. Do whatever they want (within reason of course …..hehehe). Our daughters can choose to be ballerinas or they can choose to be astronauts or rally car drivers. The sky is the limit!
So – what does this have to do with women being better virtual assistants? Well isn’t it obvious??
Let’s break it down….
MEN ARE GREAT, BUT WE ARE BETTER
Okay, so I adore my husband to no end, and men in general are pretty great to have around, right? So I am not saying they are not up to the challenge of being a Virtual Assistant – not at all – but the likelihood is that a women will always be better at this particular job than a man.
Well simply put, women are fierce and can take on anything that comes their way. We are daughters, wives, mothers, sisters, friends and, in this instance, virtual assistants – that is a whole lot of hats to wear – and we wear them all almost every day.
The ability to wear those hats and juggle, what seems like, a million and one things daily is the art of MULTITASKING. Now I do not know about you, but in my house “male” does not equate to “multitasker”. I can pretty much be reading an email, putting food on the stove, preparing some juice for the kids and possibly even be filling the sink to do dishes – all at the same time – and not miss a beat. Hubby cannot even talk and do the dishes at the same time (bless his socks!)
As a virtual assistant, multitasking comes with the territory a lot of the time. So that is reason number 1.
How about TIME MANAGEMENT? Yep, you guessed it, again women are generally better at this too. (I say generally because it is not always the case, but it is more probable for a women to have better time management skills than men.)
Being on time is not always a thing for men but women tend to always have schedules and routines and although this can maybe cause a bit of stress, the end result of being organized and focused and things falling into place because of it will be worth it.
Time management is an important, in fact incredibly important skill to have when working as a virtual assistant.
Now scientists also did studies on what differentiates men and women (besides the obvious!) and came up with things like a women’s ability to recall things better, better memory. A woman can recall if things have changed or being moved in certain spaces they frequent as they tend to use landmarks a lot in every day life. Men are generally more about the route to the goal and how to get there and whatever is along the way kind of falls by the wayside (eg women shopping vs men shopping)
They also discovered that females tend to work with and recall numbers and lists better than a male would and things like putting pegs into a peg board was more meticulously done by females.
This brings me to the last, but certainly not least, skill that a woman has, giving her an advantage in the VA world – ATTENTION TO DETAIL.
Attention to detail is key when you work as a virtual assistant because most times you would have more than one client, more than one task on the go and missing details could be to the detriment of the client, and ultimately you too.
Being able to analyse and figure out things, looking for and scanning the finer details, these are things that women do better and that is probably also due to the PATIENCE LEVEL of a woman, versus a man.
I think it is also important to note that PASSION is another element that plays an important role in being a virtual assistant – not to say men do not have passion, but for a woman working as a VA is usually a choice made so that she can stay home with the kids and therefore having a passion for what she does means that she will do it well and be able to continue her journey and therefore also set a fantastic example for her kids – using her passion for them and for the work that she does.
Wow, that is a whole lot of words right there about how amazing women are – so I think it is only fair to also mention here at the end that MEN are pretty darn special too and hopefully most of us ladies that work from home and are trying to win at this remote lifestyle have an incredible dude standing beside us egging us on. Someone to lean on at the end of a treacherous day of technical failures or failures of other kinds – providing a good shoulder rub and topping up the wine glass!
Again I will end by saying – I am woman, hear me roar! Go out and have a stupendous Women’s Month – hey make it Women’s Year!
The Unstoppable Force of a Motivated Women
Overall, becoming an entrepreneur is a very daunting task for most individuals, and rightly so. While the individual’s success might be seen so easily, what doesn’t get seen is the sacrifice, long hours, the having to make tough choices, the commitment to learning new skills, the self – doubt, the failures nor the amount of coffee it takes to get to that point of success.
Women in business very often have the added pressure to find the balance between perusing their passion with their role of being a wife, mom, friend, daughter, etc. This daily struggle to be the best version of themselves is, however, what makes a woman in business so unstoppable.
Paving the way
Growing up I was always fascinated with powerful, successful women and many hours where spent reading bibliographies and news articles on women such as Margaret Thatcher, Oprah Winfrey, and Esteé Lauder while daydreaming of how I wanted to have my version of their success one day. For years women have been showing the world how resilient and powerful they can really be, paving the way for us to be able to freely and confidently step out of our comfort zones and conquer any sector or industry we choose to enter. Aside from these powerful women, I have mentioned, my biggest inspiration and example was my mom. A woman who left her birth country behind to support her husband in trying to build a better life for themselves and their children, she used to work 12 -14 hour days in the business with my dad and would get home and be a full hands-on wife and mom. Today more than ever, I am convinced she is secretly superhuman because I don’t know how she did it all on her own but aside from that I realised it was an ‘ordinary’ woman who paved the way to my entrepreneurial journey.
Ordinary, the new Extraordinary
This past women’s day, I was fortunate enough to spend the morning with a diverse group of female entrepreneurs. We started the morning with as ordinary women with general chatter and introductions, we left as powerful, motivated and united women in business. After listening to each women’s story, learning about their challenges, their different skills, their motivations, their failures, the heartaches they have had to endure, their successes, I have never been prouder to be a woman! FH Sin put it beautifully saying “her soul is fierce, her heart is brave, her mind is strong”. These women, like various other I have the privilege to work with daily all seem to have the following seemingly ordinary characteristics that make them extraordinary:
- They are deeply passionate
- They do not expect perfection, they assess, learn, do their best and adjust the plan if needed
- They are not afraid to take risks
- They believe they are a success
- They practice gratitude
If it was easy, everyone would do it
Some people define an Entrepreneur as a crazy person who risks their own money for freedom, rather than exchanging their freedom for money – and I have to agree that takes a special individual to take the risk to go out and build their own legacy and their own version of success. To all my fellow women in business I would like to say thank you for being such an inspiration to those around you, keep showing up when most people would quit, believe you can – because you will and no matter how you feel, get up, dress up, show and never give up!
The Secret Reason You Want Women in Top Leadership and Executive Positions in Your Company
When it comes to business, everyone from the entrepreneur to big corporates needs to listen up and take note of this interesting development in the business world. Although the number of women in executive roles in companies is often limited to a single-digit percentage, studies are increasingly proving that if companies want to increase their profit, they need to rethink their strategy on gender diversity within the company.
Why it’s important to have gender diversity in your company.
In January 2018, McKinsey & Company published their 42-page report Delivering through Diversity on their findings with regards to valuable aspects of this very topic. They found that “Companies in the top-quartile for gender diversity on their executive teams were 21% more likely to have above-average profitability than companies in the fourth quartile.”
I don’t know about you, but this statistic really had me sitting up straight. So often we as women don’t even realize the importance of our contribution to the business environment. We often focus so extensively on get the job done despite facing challenges, raising families and contributing to our communities that we undervalue ourselves. I, of course, am of the opinion, that if we don’t know and acknowledge our worth first, no one else will.
Personal challenges women face that are featuring in executive leadership roles globally
It goes without saying that featuring in these executive roles brings challenges of their own for these successful women. Just like a normal wife and mother she has duties to fulfil that lie outside her corporate duties. The reality is that their male counterparts, especially those without children rarely understand the extreme stress and challenges these women face and they rarely have empathy for women in these situations.
What type of support do they need?
It doesn’t need to limit women’s opportunities to excel in the business environment. As women, we can support each other to better achieve our individual goals. Handling personal finances, paying bills, diary management, travel arrangements, event planning, holiday itineraries, the list goes on… The fun part for me is knowing that there’s always a solution for these types of challenges. And no, it’s not a personal assistant, but rather a Virtual Assistant. Both may have similar skillsets but there’s a fundamental difference between a personal assistant and a Virtual Assistant. That difference is mindset! A personal assistant is invaluable but has the mindset of an employee. The right Virtual Assistant is an entrepreneur in her own right, so she already has a growth mindset, a get the job done attitude. A no-excuses mentality. She is focused on results!
It’s so important for us as women to empower each other the reach our goals and dreams. It’s within our grasp if we support each other. There’s no shame in getting help. We don’t have to do everything ourselves. We just need to know where to get the right assistance. As mothers and wives, we often face this tremendous guilt when it comes to our jobs and families. We are always spreading ourselves too thin. Feeling guilty if we need to take time away from work to spend with our children or families. Even taking your child for a dental appointment can seem like a mountain.
My suggestion? Get that trusted support that will free up your time so you can focus on the quality events in your family, children and work. Value yourself and your loved ones enough to let go of some things.
Let’s celebrate each other’s strengths and support each other’s weaknesses. Together there are no limits to what we can accomplish!