Jessica Gendron Williams views finding the right work-life balance as crucial for physical and mental well-being.
Williams, a Noblesville resident who serves as president of The Center for Leadership Excellence, addressed the topic of The Myth of Balance May 19 at the Westfield Chamber of Commerce at IMMI Conference Center in Westfield.
“For me, the conversation about balance is such an important piece around the well-being,” Williams said. “We spend so much time saying yes to people because we love them and we want to support them. We say yes to things we shouldn’t say yes to or don’t have time to say yes to or frankly don’t want to say yes to, and we end up in this tornado. We find ourselves having to do things that don’t bring joy to our life and don’t provide healthy environments for us.”
Williams said balance varies from person to person.
“Balance is when your life feels good and you are in control and you are getting what you need to feel good,” she said. “What’s important to understand is we have to stop putting parameters on what the definition of balance really looks like for each individual. It’s different for everyone.”
She said there is one constant, however.
“Finding balance requires us to let go of perfection,” Williams said. “We have to stop trying to achieve things that aren’t achievable or obtain things that are unrealistic.”
Williams said balance isn’t about perfection and creating a formula of spending 50 percent of time at work and 50 percent with family or spend 30 percent at work, 20 percent with family, 20 percent with church and 10 percent volunteering.
“It’s not that prescribed and it’s not that perfect,” she said. “Balance is about honesty. It requires us to take an honest look at our lives and the things that are important to us and the things that matter in our day-to-day (lives) and be honest about the things we need to keep and the things we need to let go of and the things that are maybe a someday kind of dream. The thing about balance is you can have everything you want in your life but you can’t have everything you want right now.”
Williams said there are a lot of things people want for their life that they say yes to but should push it off in the distance.
Williams said when people think about balance, they think it has to be equally aligned.
Williams challenged the audience to develop the big priorities in their lives to focus on what matters most.
“When I started in the private sector, I was determined to move up the corporate ladder as fast as I could,” she said. “I joined a startup company as one of the first employees and I worked so hard. I said yes to extra work and traveled more than anyone else. I always say yes. I worked like a crazy person.”
She said no to birthday parties, vacations, weddings and family funerals.
“I was a CEO of a company before I was 35,” she said. “I looked around and realized I didn’t really have any friends or any hobbies and all I did was work. Luckily, I married a guy who knew I was working too much and we ended up adopting children. When we adopted my children, my priorities started to change.”
To guard priorities, Williams suggested setting boundaries. For instance, from 6 to 8 p.m. everyone in her house puts away phones, tablets computers and makes no work calls.