Nadine and I work in international nature conservation. It’s an exciting, stimulating, rewarding sector to work in and we love it. However, in this sector, there’s a strong culture of working long hours, dedicating personal time to being on committees, or writing scientific papers, or other worthwhile (but time-sucking!) endeavours, and travelling. This is not compatible with a good work-life balance. And can often come at the cost of our health and our relationships.
Is there another way? Yes! There is!
We believe that together we have the opportunity to shape our sectors around the lifestyle and values that truly matter. To help shape our work around our values, we can start by asking ourselves these two questions when we are designing our work programmes, projects, or activities.
Is this going to make a difference?
This question helps us focus on what’s important (the important/urgent matrix). What will the impact of this project or activity be? Is it helping us move towards our goals? If not, consider dropping this activity from your work programme. It may be a controversial move with your colleagues but will help you all stop wasting time on activities that aren’t getting you to where you all want to go.
Is this compatible with my personal life?
We often jump on the hamster wheel of careers and forget about our personal lives. We end up fitting our personal lives around our careers. But we don’t even stop to question if there’s another way. We’re naively accepting the status quo and supported the current system and allowed our lives to be shaped by somebody else. I don’t believe that this is healthy for our personal health and well-being or for humanity and the planet. So let’s start questioning the status quo and designing our work around our lives rather than the other way round. For example, both Nadine and I really miss our children when we are away. Could that meeting be attended remotely rather than in person so that we don’t miss bedtimes? Or could childcare be offered at the meeting so that the children could join us (which could also address the challenge of out-of-hours childcare challenges that arise when one parent is away). When we are leading and/or designing projects – consider designing them around the lifestyle we want. For example, schedule all meetings at convenient times and locate them in beautiful, inspiring venues or keep short core office hours and work the rest of your contracted hours to fit around your lifestyle.
As women, we are incredibly resourceful and I’m sure can come up with a whole new rethink of the workplace. A workplace that is calm, inspiring, focused, impactful, rewarding, and that works for us. A workplace that allows us to focus on what’s important – a better life and a better world.
We Are All Wonder Women is an international movement for female conservation professionals to be inspired, connected, and empowered to create an authentic, fulfilling and happy career.