Written by: Jennifer Wren Tolo, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
In today's fast-paced world, many professional women find themselves juggling multiple roles and responsibilities, both at work and at home. The desire to excel in their careers and their home life often leads to overextension, increased stress, and a dwindling work-life balance. It's no wonder so many high-achieving women are exhausted and overextended with: the relentless pursuit of perfectionism and control, the fear of appearing incapable, and the perceived expectation that they do it all on their own.
It's time we superwomen recognize that delegating and asking for help are not signs of weakness; instead, they are powerful tools for efficiency, balance, and personal growth. We don’t have to do it all alone. We are our best selves when we recognize our strengths as well as our limitations and work together as a team.
The burden of control
For many high-achieving, professional women, the idea of relinquishing control can be daunting. You’ve worked hard to reach your current positions and take pride in your ability to handle everything. A strong part of you wants things done a certain way and you have trouble trusting others to meet your own lofty expectations, or your perceived expectations of others. However, the relentless pursuit of control can take a toll on one's physical and mental well-being. It is exhausting and overwhelming, and can impact relationships with others. The tighter your grip on control is, the more stress levels rise, health and happiness declines and the work-life balance becomes a distant dream.
Let’s take something simple, like the dishes.
I would often complain that my family would allow the dishes piled up in the sink, and not put them in the dishwasher..
When I voiced my complaint to my husband, he mentioned that I always wind up repositioning the dishes in the dishwasher as they are not “put in right” so… they don’t bother doing them anymore.
Is doing dishes a highly specialized task only I am capable of doing? Absolutely not, but I was attached to them being done a certain way… my way. This is where the problem and mutual resentment would occur.
I had to learn to let go of “my way of doing things” if I was going to be resentful of no one else putting dishes in the dishwasher. And, I had to relax a bit more if dishes were piled in the sink as everyone knew, if the sink was full of dishes I would put them in the dishwasher.
How does this relate to the professional woman and delegating for better work-life balance?
Think of how many mundane, simple tasks we insist on doing that others are capable of doing.
It is our tight grip of control, be it perfection or our lofty expectations at the heart of it, that stops us from allowing others to help.
I had a client mention to me how she was told in her work evaluation as an executive that she needed to be better at delegating tasks as it not only helps her be more efficient and focused on her area of expertise, but it builds up and empowers the staff working under her. When we try to do it all and don’t allow others to help, we impact not only our mental health, but that of people around us.
By not delegating tasks or letting others help us, we inadvertently push others away or distance ourselves from others. This is not our intention, as we are usually the first to help people.
As high-achievers, the idea of letting go a little and allowing others to help us can be incredibly uncomfortable and even anxiety provoking. We often identify as the ones people come to for help and we trust ourselves to get things done, and done well.
What if we allow others to get the emotional, self-esteem boost we get by helping others by allowing them to help us when we feel overwhelmed or overextended?
I learned this hard lesson twice in my life: first, when my second son was in the NICU after having a stroke at birth and second, when my third son was hospitalized for Leukemia treatment.
I realized that receiving help from others didn't mean I was incapable or less than, but it helped free up mental energy and time for me to focus on what was truly important to me; my family, things that brought me joy and the things that only I could do.
Allowing others to help actually built deeper and new relationships as well as allowed me to focus on the things that were the most important to me: the health and wellbeing of my kids, my husband and my pregnant self.
The stress factor
Constantly shouldering an overwhelming workload, in the office as well as at home, leads to burnout, decreased job satisfaction, and diminished overall quality of life. The stress of trying to manage everything on your own can negatively impact not only your career but also your health and personal relationships. Recognizing that you don't have to do it all yourself is the first step towards reducing stress and achieving a better work-life balance.
When we are stressed and overwhelmed with lists of tasks and the perceived pressure to do it all well, our mental and physical health is impacted. We experience:
Decreased ability to focus and problem solve
Decreased patience and emotional regulation
Increased cravings for caffeine, sugar and processed foods
The more control we try to have, the more we feed chronic stress and the more our health, happiness and feeling of belonging and connection diminishes. How often do you say, “I don’t have time”? As I mentioned in a podcast episode, time is a created thing and we can make time for things when we recognize they are important to us. The good news is, when we are aware of the impact our habits have on our life, we can begin to take steps towards change.
The art of delegation
Delegating is an art that allows you to distribute tasks and responsibilities to others who are better suited for them, thereby lightening your load and freeing up valuable time and energy. It's not about passing the buck or abdicating responsibility; it's about making the best use of your team's strengths and abilities, and this applies to your family life as well.
Here are some important factors when thinking about delegating tasks:
Identify Your Strengths: Start by recognizing your own strengths and weaknesses. Focus on what you excel at or enjoy doing and delegate tasks that others can handle more efficiently or that others enjoy doing more than you do.
Empower Your Team: Trust your colleagues and subordinates to take on responsibilities. Provide clear instructions and support, but let them have ownership of their tasks. When possible, allow them space to tackle the task their way, even when it is not your way.
Effective Communication: Maintain open lines of communication. Regular check-ins and feedback sessions will ensure that tasks are progressing as desired. Communicate deadlines and expectations as well as any guidelines or specifics that need to be addressed. Then, refrain from micromanaging.
Asking for help
Asking for help is a sign of courage, not weakness. It's a powerful tool for personal and professional growth, as well as for nurturing work-life balance.
Here are some things to think about when asking for help:
Be Clear About Your Needs: When you ask for help, be specific about what you need. Clear communication helps others understand your requirements.
Build a Support Network: Cultivate a network of trusted colleagues, friends, and family members who can provide assistance when needed. You don't have to go it alone.
Prioritize Self-Care: Recognize that taking care of yourself is essential for success. Delegate tasks to create space for self-care and rejuvenation. You will be a better you.
The rewards of delegating and seeking help
By letting go of control and embracing delegation and seeking help, corporate women can experience a transformation in their work and personal lives. You will begin to experience:
Increased Efficiency: Delegating tasks to those who are better suited for them allows you to focus on your core responsibilities, leading to increased productivity and efficiency.
Improved Work-Life Balance: As your workload becomes more manageable, you'll have more time for family, friends, and things that bring you fulfillment and joy. This leads to a better work-life balance.
Reduced Stress: Letting go of the need to control every aspect of your work and life can significantly reduce stress levels, improving overall well-being. You will be able to be more present and productive.
More Joy: With less stress and more time for activities you enjoy, you'll experience a renewed sense of joy in both your professional and personal life. You will be able to focus on what you enjoy and want instead of the things you dread that drain your time and energy.
For busy, overextended corporate women, the path to work-life balance and joy lies in the wisdom of delegation and the courage to ask for help. Remember, it's not a sign of weakness; it's a strategy for success. By relinquishing control and embracing these principles, you can find greater efficiency, reduced stress, and more happiness in both your career and your life beyond the office. Embrace the power of delegation and the strength in seeking help to create a life that's not only successful but also deeply fulfilling.
If this resonates with you and you would like to learn to let go of control a bit more, delegate, and ask for help, or if you want to improve your relationship with others as well as yourself, I can help. I help overextended, high-achieving superwomen reclaim their time and energy. I empower them with simple strategies to find more calm in the chaos of life so they can have better focus, presence, and purpose and have better health and happiness. Schedule a FREE 30-minute Clarity call with me today!
For a quick digital guide to reclaiming your time and energy, download my Power of NO guide now.
Jennifer Wren Tolo, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine
Jennifer Wren Tolo, RN, is a whole health educator, a leading transformation coach and mind, body, spirit connector for high achieving women and mothers who are so busy showing up for others that they "don't have time" to show up for themselves. She has coached women in cultivating calm and peace within themself by finding their inner strength and resilience so they can take back their power over their own health and happiness one thought, one action, one conscious choice, one moment at a time. Jennifer is a stress and resiliency educator and adjunct professor at Endicott College School of Nursing where she teaches "Holistic and Complementary Approaches to Health and Healing."