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The Four Anchors of Work-Life Balance

by Mireille Guiliano, internationally best-selling author of “French Women Don’t Get Fat”

Work-life balance is one of the great challenges facing today’s women. It’s so easy to lose oneself in our fast-paced, electronically-connected world, trying to keep up in a whirlwind of multi-tasking and responsibilities, sacrificing all else to “make it.” Though relentless self-application may feel virtuous, in reality it backfires, leading to stress, poor productivity, lowered immunity, grumpiness and, yes, even weight gain.

Everyone’s situation is different and each woman needs to create the optimal work-life balance strategy for herself, but no matter the circumstances I believe you cannot achieve work-life balance and maintain a joie de vivre without these four “anchors” in your life:

1) Good health: Stress is the biggest health issue for women, and learning to reduce stress can have a big impact on your overall wellbeing (and waistline).

2) A functional social network of friends and family: You need at least a small network of people you can trust, and a wider network of people you can speak with openly and comfortably (outside of work). Just knowing you have support available is stress-reducing.

3) A solid employment situation: This means you are reasonably happy in your job and career, feel pride in the company or organization where you work, have respect for your boss and senior management and have co-workers with whom you work effectively. In turn you are treated with respect and courtesy and fairly compensated.

4) Time, space, principles and policies for yourself: This is the anchor that most frequently gets lost in the prioritization. At a minimum, it’s vital to take a daily plage de temps-a “beach of time”-that can be as little as ten minutes for some breathing, yoga, listening to music, mindless chores, whatever relaxes you and helps you feel centered again.

I always encourage women to set small, manageable goals to improve work-life balance. For two weeks, write down your stresses and work-life imbalances, then, keeping the anchors in mind, set small goals for improvement, no more than three at a time-no need to make yourself stressed about trying to reduce stress. Once you have achieved these goals, set three more, then three more and then declare victory-you’ve probably reduced your stress as much as you realistically can without drastic life changes. As the changes slowly take effect you will feel yourself becoming happier, less stressed, more productive and ultimately more balanced.

Texas Conference for Women speaker and internationally best-selling author Mireille Guiliano was a long time spokesperson for Champagne Veuve Clicquot and former president and CEO of Clicquot, Inc. (LVMH). Recognized as “an ambassador of France and its art of living,” by the French daily Le Figaro, USA Today further dubbed her “the high priestess of French lady wisdom.” Her books, “French Women Don’t Get Fat: The Secret of Eating for Pleasure,” “French Women for all Seasons: A Year of Secrets, Recipes and Pleasure,” “Women, Work and The Art of Savoir Faire: Business Sense and Sensibility” and “The French Women Don’t Get Fat Cookbook” have all received international praise and acknowledgement.