Want holidays to include more joy and less stress?
We’ve spent the last 15 years talking to families who have redesigned their lives to create more joy and less stress.
On one of our previous Thursdays with ThirdPath webinars we talked with two experts about the added stress we all experience around the holidays. Not only do these two guests work with individuals and couples to help them find more joy and less stress in their lives, Jeanine O’Rourke and Rachel Allender have lots of experience trying to “walk the talk” themselves. They are also long-time ThirdPath community members. Click the Soundcloud icon on the right to listen to the recording of the call. We promise you’ll walk away with lots of new ideas.
Or … take a look at some of the questions we discussed. We’re guessing they’ll help you find more holiday joy and less stress too.
Gift Giving – It’s easy to get caught up in gift giving and buy more than planned – sometimes putting a strain on our family budgets and values. It also takes time to buy gifts, including helping relatives know what gifts to give. What are you enjoying most about gift giving this year? What would you like to do differently next year?
Other Holiday Expectations – Creating holiday cards, putting up holiday decorations, attending holiday events – at work, with friends, and at your children’s schools – can all require a lot of time over the holidays. Which ones do you enjoy the most? Are there any you would like to skip next year?
Family Time and Family Traditions – The most important part of the holidays is creating time with our families. Which family traditions create the most fun and cause the least stress? Are there any that could be simplified or maybe even crossed off the list?
Holiday Planning – The fantasy is that holidays magically happen. The truth is: advance planning helps us focus on what is most important. It also helps us find ways to share the work load. Who can be part of your planning team and how can you work together to create more joy and less stress?
Read more …
Want a free copy of ThirdPath’s holiday planner?
Email us at: Time4Life(at)ThirdPath.org … Subject: Holiday Joy!
This simple worksheet can help you keep track of what worked well this holiday season. Then you can pull it out next November as you plan for the next round of holidays!
Take Time to Stop and Smell the Pine Trees
As Peter Senge said, “if we don’t choose the boundaries that make the most sense for us, technology and the norms of our workplaces will choose for us.” Peter is the author of The Fifth Discipline, and he showed us how systems thinking helps us better understand how to reclaim our lives.
We talked about how it takes courage to ask for what you want – whether it’s turning off work on vacation or asking to flex your work hours. But when we do this, everyone benefits. You can see this in our story about CJ, a father who changed to a four day work week, and by doing so he created a number of more efficient work processes.
You can also see this in the stories we’ve collected for our “Meet the Pioneers” blog. Stories like Andrea’s, where very early in her career – way before becoming a parent – she made a number of wise choices that became the building blocks for creating an integrated approach to work and life today.
To hear the webinar, click the YouTube video on the right. Or read on to hear some of the questions people asked Peter, and the wise advice he provided.
Read more …
More than time, what is needed is giving yourself permission to create the space to do this. It also helps to have others who are willing to think with you, and to encourage you to focus on what’s important as opposed to what’s secondary. In our over stimulated world we can begin to think we don’t have enough time. But actually we have the same 24 hours in a day, 7 days in a week and how ever many years we are going to live. That hasn’t changed a bit. What has changed is the mental model and the choices of how we spend our time. Once you realize this, you can make the necessary choices to create a different kind of space – a quiet space. It doesn’t matter if it’s running or yoga, just so long as it isn’t something “externally stimulating” like watching TV or surfing the web. There is nothing wrong with these activities. But in our over stimulated environments we never have enough time. What’s required is a shift in mindset.
Question: I get pulled into meaningless meetings. I negotiated a four day work week, but was told to keep it quiet. How do you live with this greater sense of meaning when faced with a work culture that is so different?
When you are trying to be sane in an insane environment, people will call you crazy. Your action is a contradiction to their assumptions. It’s not because they are bad people, they are just expressing the norms of the work culture, and they see you as contradicting these norms. You are also making them recognize that there is a choice. You are taking a stand for something that matters to you, and it probably matters to them as well, and your actions require them to face that they too have options. Do you want to take a stand for something that you really care about? One person might not be able to make a difference, but you can always take a stand for yourself. It’s also important to not do it out of anger. People will only hear the anger. You need to do it because you feel it’s the right thing to do. You need to be clear in your words and actions, “I’m not doing this to criticize you, I’m doing this because this it is what I need.”
Question: I’m supervising a team and doing the job of 3 persons. How can any of us try and work less when my boss’ answer will be to just get the work done?
A lot of organizations are expecting to do more and more without the necessary resources. I would just encourage you to ask your boss, “What do you think about this? It seems like we are trying to get too much done with the resources we have.” What you will be doing is engaging him or her in a process of inquiry. If you start with a simple assumption, that you and your boss have many common goals, it will help. I can guarantee that when you bring this issue up, your boss will feel just as stuck as you do. And if you can then find ways to engage a team of people to think about this issue, and do it by evoking curiosity, it’s amazing what can be done. I guarantee you, things won’t get worse.
Would you like help creating your own unique “third path” – an integrated approach to work and life? Look at the “Get Help” section of our website – we’ve got lots of resources for you.
Why Change is Imperative
The 2017-2018 season of Thursdays with ThirdPath webinars will explore the practical steps you can take on the road to integration – whether you are launching your first career, becoming a new parent, balancing work and the care of school aged children, or work and the care of an aging loved one.
Anne-Marie Slaughter shows us just how revolutionary this approach is in her book Unfinished Business, making the case, “most of the pervasive gender inequalities in our society – for both men and women – cannot be fixed unless men have the same range of choices with respect to mixing caregiving and breadwinning that women do.”
Both men and women need to change, she argues, but so do our workplaces. “Radical as it may seem, it’s time for CEO’s, supervisors, and team leaders to assume that the experience of caregiving… helps people become more efficient, and develop knowledge, patience, adaptability to different rhythms, honesty, courage, trust, humility, and hope.” The workplace she envisions is one where “new fathers would have to opt out of taking it rather than opting in. It also means welcoming whatever arrangements allow workers who are also caregivers not only to stay on the job, but also to stay on leadership track.”
To learn more about her revolutionary vision, listen to the YouTube recording of our Thursdays with ThirdPath webinar with her.
We’ve also included her original “5 mandates” for change from the article that went viral. When you read them, you’ll see why they sounded so familiar – especially after we added the words “men and women” to each mandate.
Read more …
Anne-Marie Slaughter’s “5 mandates for change” – and their connection to ThirdPath’s mission
Men and Women Changing the Culture of Face Time – This is at the root of all of the work ThirdPath does as we encourage men and women to look for the unique flexibility in their jobs. Not every job can be flexed in the same way, but there is a flexible solution for every job. It also means pushing back at chronically overworked work cultures so that employees don’t just trade long hours at the office for long hours at home.
Men and Women Revaluing Family Values – ThirdPath sees this in the multitude of Shared Care families we’ve met – whether they flexed or worked reduced hours at the same time, or shared different roles at different stages in their family’s development. In each of these stories the parents learned how to maintain their involvement with work while also staying actively involved in the joys and responsibilities of caring for their children.
Men and Women Redefining the Arc of a Successful Career – This is at the core of the work we do with ThirdPath’s Pioneering Leaders. This is a truly inspirational group of male and female leaders who have all courageously followed integrated career paths. Now they are working with us to create wider change. Together we are examining the systemic issues that need to be addressed so even more leaders can follow in their footsteps.
Men and Women Rediscovering the Pursuit of Happiness – Whether it is the joy you gain from an amazing vacation (our August blog post), or making the most of summer (our July blog post) or pushing back at overwhelm (our September blog post), this recommendation gets right to the heart of our mission: to assist individuals, families and organizations in finding new ways to redesign work and life to create time for family, community and other life priorities.
Men and Women Becoming an Innovation Nation – Right again! Lotte Bailyn discovered this concept over a decade ago when she first introduced the term “dual agenda” – solutions that are good for business and good for you. Today this is also central to our work. And just like Lotte discovered so many years ago, we’ve also seen how encouraging employees to follow this approach – from entry level to executive level – means they actually find ways to improve how they work.
Join this year’s Thursdays with ThirdPath webinars – we’ll show you how you can put these ideas into action and join the revolution.
The New Revolutionaries
In Brigid Schulte’s book Overwhelmed, Work, Love and Play When No One Has the Time, she describes the web of forces that make us feel stuck in a life that is going too fast – a life that includes little time for reflection and even less time for joy.
But Schulte wants us to think bigger:
“What if not just women, but both men and women, worked smart, more flexible schedules? What if the workplace itself was more fluid than the rigid and narrow ladder to success of the ideal worker? … And what if both men and women became responsible for raising children and managing the home, sharing work, love, and play? Could everyone then live whole lives?”
At ThirdPath we are putting these ideas into practice:
People who are part of the ThirdPath community are showing us how to push back at overwhelm. They have also discovered, changing their approach to work and family is not just good for their own lives, but good for their workplaces.
Leaders and fathers are a critical part of the revolution:
Click the SoundCloud icon to listen to our conversation with Brigid Schulte and two progressive leaders who describe how they have redesigned both work and family to create more satisfying lives, not just for themselves, but for their whole teams. Or read on to learn how one young dad switched to a four day work week, creating a win for his workplace and a win for his family. We’re so proud to be part of this movement for change – the groundswell of people who are choosing to step away from constant overwhelm and reclaim their lives.
CJ is one of the new revolutionaries:
CJ is one of the father’s ThirdPath has worked with to “redesign” his work so he had more time to care for his children. Our job was to help CJ find a “win-win” solution – one that was good for him and good for his workplace.
Read more …
CJ also noticed how many of his “highest priority” tasks required focused attention for prolonged stretches of time. As the company’s sole engineer, CJ was often the person people came to to ask for help – but these constant interruptions got in the way of him getting his own work done.
CJ decided to talk to the company’s general manager, Molly, about the suggested changes. What CJ noticed was that as he sought input from Molly, they both became more clear about what CJ should really be working on. CJ explained, “I can get confused about what my top priority work should be because everything seems like a priority. I can see where a regular review of what I am doing could be really valuable.”
“In both areas of my work, R&D and process improvement, I have a list that is two miles long. My daily tasks are chipping away at these two long lists. By having too much to do, all that happens is that the progress in both areas slows down. Now I’ve gotten better at asking, ‘What is my biggest priority?’ and, ‘At what rate do I need these things to get done?’”
Molly became an advocate for CJ, even helping him create routine “quiet time.” For example, Molly gently encouraged CJ to take a look at his own reluctance to say “no” to the various disruptions during his designated periods of quiet time. “I do enjoy those interruptions,” CJ admitted, “but my job suffers, and engineering and design tasks get put on hold.”
Six years later we asked CJ for an update. Here’s what he said:
“One of the best thing about the changes I made is that I have more energy at work — which means I’m more productive when I’m at work. I also have more energy at home — which means I’m a better husband and father. Combined with my commute, my work days are long, but then I get 3 full days to focus on my home life. It also means I’ve been able to schedule all personal appointments on Fridays, so I rarely if ever take time off work for personal matters, this is a benefit for both me and my employer.”
Join the revolution.
Want to create an integrated approach to work and life like CJ? This year’s Thursday with ThirdPath webinars will be exploring the 8 major crossroads you’ll need to navigate as you design an integrated approach to work and life. You’ll discover the choices we make, skills we develop, and lessons we learn, can help prepare you for the next one. Want to get started today? Check out our many resources. Click here to learn more.
Making the Most of Summer
Think summer has to be a struggle between work and family? Think again. Here are some of the things ThirdPath has learned about balancing work and family over the summer. And one of the most important things we’ve learned is that taking 20 minutes to write down what you liked (and didn’t like) about this summer will be a big help when you plan for next summer.
- In general summers can allow for an enjoyable “slower pace” at home.
- But summers also take A LOT of planning.
- The age of your children will also have a big impact on what happens during the summer. What worked last year might not work again this year since your child is a whole year older!
- Finding the “right” camp can be a highlight, but finding it can be quite a journey.
- Another summer goal is finding the “right” mix of planned and unplanned activities – balancing boredom versus over scheduling.
- Summers can also provide an opportunity for children to develop independent interests, such as reading and trying out new hobbies.
- Over time families often develop a rhythm to summers that can last year after year, some becoming deeply valued memories and “family traditions.”
You can also listen to what a few pioneering mothers and fathers had to say about summers by clicking on the SoundCloud player for our Thursday with ThirdPath webinar on this topic.
Read more …
– Grandparents and extended family can play a great role in summers. Children can spend one or two weeks with them (and sometimes with other cousins as well). This can provide a great opportunity for the two generations to get to know each other and connect.
– A partner in an accounting firm negotiated a “flex year” schedule – working a total of 20 hours during the summer months. This gave her maximum time with her school aged children. Then during her “busy season” – January through April – her husband became the primary parent in charge.
– ThirdPath has also met many families where one parent intentionally became a school teacher as a way to have more flexibility throughout the summers. In one of these families, the other parent negotiated an alternative summer schedule so she could work remotely one day a week.
– Telework can be a great summer solution when caring for teens. It’s also a great option for stretching out limited vacation time. One family planned a two week beach vacation but only used one week of vacation time. They did this by trading off who was working (in the mornings or in the afternoons) while the other parent played with the children at the beach.
You may also want to take a look at this great blog post from author Christine Carter about her 3 steps to a successful summer
Don’t forget our summertime tip: Write up your “summertime” notes, then pull these out in February when you start planning for next summer!
Men and Women Fighting for Change
In this blog post ThirdPath celebrates the men and women who participated in our 2017 Pioneering Leaders Summit.
Together, our pioneering leaders have begun to put the pieces together for a world that supports success at work and success in our lives outside of work – it’s also a world that will profoundly improve the lives of fathers.
Healthy family systems need time to recharge…
Families need money, families need care, and families need time to recharge. With over 15 years of working with individuals, leaders and families, ThirdPath has also learned that organizations gain when men and women learn how to set thoughtful limits at work so they have time and energy for their lives outside of work.
The male and female leaders at our Summit took many steps over the course of their careers to achieve this. All of them also created a “team at home” to better manage both domains.
Increased demands on families, means less time to recharge…
This year’s Summit focused specifically on the “new family” stage – a time when many families feel stretched thin – and many also fall into gendered patterns at work and at home.
Instead, the fathers at our Summit shared stories of rearranging their work schedules to pick up children from daycare. Or they became the primary parent designing work around family. Or they broke new ground by having both parents work reduced schedules to share in the care of their children.
Add to this one job – or both jobs – requiring more than full time work, and it can lead to chronic overwork and gendered patterns at work and home…
Read more …
That’s why men and women need to work together to redesign work, family, and to push back at norms around overwork.
Check our our “Redesigning Leadership” page to learn more. Or are you ready to take the next step towards creating a more integrated approach to work and life? Join our next Overwhelm Mitigation Group – learn how to push back at overwhelm, get more efficient at work, and have more time (and energy!) for life.
Meet Diana and Rashi!
We are very proud of our newest ThirdPath team members. When you read their stories, you’ll see why they are a great fit for ThirdPath, and a great example of how organizations can support people to live “whole lives.”
Diana Blasdel – Fundraiser and adventurer
For Diana, figuring out how to finagle balance is always a challenge and constantly changing. The location of home shifts weekly as Diana, her husband Miguel and their dog Remy LeBeau, move to a new city with the Jersey Boys National Tour – Miguel performs and Diana works with merchandise. In addition to the tour, Diana has blended this nomadic lifestyle with flexible virtual jobs that also allow her to pursue a career of meaningful work with nonprofit organizations.
When Diana became ThirdPath’s first Manager of Development and Donor Relations, she was asked to create her preferred “triple win” schedule that was good for her, good for getting her work done, and good for the people she worked with. To figure it out, Diana took out a red marker and blank calendar and mapped out not only time for ThirdPath, but also for other obligations to make sure balance existed between her professional and personal life.
Read more …
Diana admits none of this is easy, and believes it will always stay “a work in progress.” Amidst the juggling, her biggest challenge is remembering to carve out time for herself, or it becomes harder to balance the rest.
Rashi Shyam – Crafting a life that includes work, love and play
Having grown up working in her parent’s store, spending years in investment
Banking ,and then eventually owning her own business. Rashi is no stranger to a
dedicated work ethic. Today, as ThirdPath’s new Manager of Programs and Operations, work continues to play a prominent role in Rashi’s life, but so does her commitment to caring for her family, and even a little time to unwind.
After years in investment banking, Rashi decided to start her own event-planning business so she would have more time for family meals, to help with homework, and attend her children’s sports games. However, she quickly learned her new business could at times mean “there was no end” to the work to be done. Rather than being free to fully enjoy her child’s sports game, she had to keep one eye (or two) focused on work.
Taking a position with ThirdPath, Rashi is beginning to see a new way of working. With a self-created set schedule that allows for time at the gym in the morning, a boss who respects the time limit of conference calls, and flexibility to adjust her work hours if life happens (i.e snow days!), Rashi is beginning to let go of the “I should be working” guilt. Instead she’s learning how to be focused while at work, and then to “not feel guilty when giving myself time to unwind or spend time with my children.”
As Rashi says, she is excited to work for an organization that truly reflects her life goals, supporting an integrated approach to work life and the shared care that she and her family are working towards. You can find both Rashi and Diana’s bios on our website.
Creating a “Team” Approach to Family Finances
Navigating finances within your family can get complicated — but it doesn’t have to be. Forging through a financial plan together and with intention can create better goals, boundaries, and mindsets.
For some guidance, we took to expert Scott Behson’s book Working Dad’s Survival Guide. Following are some tips to help you and your family start thinking about your financial team …
1 – You May Need to Choose – Big Bucks or Work Life Balance
“Among other things, jobs that require or strongly encourage extensive travel, long commutes, long work weeks… earn significantly more than jobs that are more stable, have more regular and reasonable hours, and do not make such time-based or psychological demands.” However, Scott also reminds us that jobs that pay less may have other non-financial benefits, like “more satisfying work, better work-life balance, less stress and more free time.”
2 – Success Is the Freedom to Live by Your Priorities
“My over-arching philosophy when it comes to finances, work and family, is that the key to success is the freedom to act in accordance with our priorities.” To do this, Scott encourages his readers to be careful around the big financial choices they make, like the decision to buy a house. “Maybe instead of working harder and sacrificing family time, you can free up time by examining and reducing these large expenses.”
3 – There is a Lot to Gain From Smart Budgeting
“If we do 85% budgeting, we have more slack in our finances to accommodate unexpected expenses.” In contrast, “If your regular income and regular expenses simply equal out, your finances can be compared to a rope already taut. With no slack, the rope has no more capacity to be stretched further without fraying.” Want to to spend on things that are “nice to have” not just “need to have”?
Creating a budget, and revisiting it periodically throughout the year, has just as much value in the home as it does in big business. Scott realized this when his organization created a very conservative budget, “not quite a worst-case scenario, but a bad-case scenario,” and then a few months later, when they had a better handle on their financial picture, they created a second budget. Upon the second review, they realized they had much more liberty with their spending than expected
Want to hear more about finances? Check out the link above to hear a powerful and vulnerable conversation we had about financial choices and freedoms from our Thursday with ThirdPath webinar!
4 – Create a Team Approach to Your Financial Goals
The best way to be on the same page? Talk through different options with each other to create a common plan.
“My wife and I talked about my transition from a long-hours, good-paying job with good benefits to going out on a limb and starting my own consultancy… We had some financial cushion, but it was scary. Now I can have a much more family kind of lifestyle, and we can share the load more easily at home. The fact that my wife and I talked all the implications through – what does this mean for our mortgage, for college savings, for health insurance, for her work? – made the transition so much better.”
We also know real and lasting change will only happen when societies support men and women to share in the work of earning income and caring for their families. Want help designing your Shared Care work-family solution? Check out our “Work Family Options Resource Book.”
Fifteen Months of Chronic Overwork, and One More to Go
The last 15 months have been challenging, not just because of some unexpected life events (learn more), but also because our organization is growing. Growth is a good thing. But the trick is figuring out how to have growth happen at a capacity we can manage.
At ThirdPath we very purposefully build in slower periods of work in order to give us time to make the necessary changes to better manage when things are extra busy. Overwork is never easy, but there can be a silver lining. I now have a better understanding of what it feels like – and how I start behaving – when I’m chronically overworked. I also know that too many professionals in today’s 24/7 business environment are chronically overworked.
Read more …
I like to tell people to think of their capacity for work as a glass of water. Is your glass filled to the brim? Overflowing? Or do you have a little wiggle room at the top of the glass?
When managing my capacity for work, I’ve learned to very intentionally plan around busier and less busy periods of work – or continuing with the glass analogy – to plan for the times when my glass is filled to the brim and when I have a little extra room at the top. If I’ve done a good job preparing for a busy period, I have created extra support and good personal habits to handle this peak period more effectively.
During slower periods, I use the “extra room” in my glass to make changes that will improve how I work going forward.
- I systematize processes
- re-prioritize tasks
- decide what to delegate so that I have more time for what I am uniquely qualified to do
It turns out working this way isn’t just good for you, it’s also good for your organization. It means you are better able to manage the unexpected – both at work and outside of work. It also means I come to work more refreshed, and better able to keep my perspective about what’s really an emergency and what’s really most important. However, I could tell living with this on-going level of stress wasn’t good for me.
When constantly in a state of overwork I began to notice how smaller things pushed me off balance very easily.
I was quick to lose my perspective. I even caught myself working less efficiently, and even making some mistakes. For example, my husband and I planned a long weekend away to celebrate my birthday. I pride myself in my ability to turn off work while on vacation, and I was able to do this during this trip as well. But even with this break, when I got back to work, I was shocked to see how quickly I returned to the same stressed perspective I had before vacation. Once again there was a task that needed to get done that was going to require more time than I had available. And just like before vacation, it pushed me immediately into a stressed response, instead of being able to step back and imagine a more creative solution.
The truth is with so many months of stress behind me and a few more to go, I shouldn’t be surprised that I’m still behaving this way. I didn’t do anything wrong. Growth is good. Life happens. But I also have to admit that during the last 15 months, sometimes I have traveled to a bit of a dark place. A place where I start losing hope, and believing things will never change.
Luckily I have developed and maintained a number of good habits to regain my normally optimistic outlook.
- I exercise regularly
- My husband cooks amazing healthy dinners for our family
- I carve out routine times during my work week without calls or meetings so I can get focused work done
- And all year long I relied on my staff to help me keep focused on my top priority work
- When I get overloaded, I also try to remember to stop and take a walk, or to call a friend, or to do both. This helps remind me that it is probably the chronic overwork that is causing me to see things worse than they are.
Did you make a resolution to push back at overwork and create more time for life? Let us help you.
Check out our free resources, including our “Key Integration Practices” handout.
Revolutionary ThirdPath Community Members Changing Work and Life
ThirdPath has become the premier work/life organization supporting men and women – as both parents and leaders – to achieve integrated lives.
We were able to do this by learning from you.
You’ve taught us meaningful change can only really come about when we look at our lives from an integrated perspective – we need to make changes at work AND changes at home. Read on to see just a few of the ways ThirdPath’s amazing community members are changing the world.
Revolutionary work practices … This month’s “Meet the Pioneer” story illustrates how to put these ideas into practice, including practical ideas for shaping a flexible work team.
Revolutionary parents … But our community members also taught us how changes at home are linked to changes at work.
Changing What We Do at Home Changes Our Workplaces
Gay or straight, living together or separate, when both mothers and fathers are supported to flex work around the needs of children, great things happen.
Both parents learn how to work more effectively
They learn how to: reduce interruptions; focus on tasks that make the best use of their skills; eliminate lower priority tasks; strategically delegate; use slow periods to re-prioritize work and put more efficient processes into practice.
Both parents learn how to manage changes in schedules
Parents can work together to handle predictable and unpredictable changes such as school closings, snow days and a sick child. They can also help each other out to manage the ups and downs of their workloads.
Families have more “wiggle room” to plan for what’s needed next
Families need time to for many small things (when to get the car fixed) and big things too (how to make the most of summers, or how to manage a job relocation). Having time to anticipate and organize around these changes increases the likelihood of developing the best possible solutions.
Read more …
Organizations learn how to develop less gendered career paths
Normalizing both parents involvement in family care, doesn’t just change our assumptions about gender at home, it also changes our assumptions at work.
Both men and women become role models for the next generation
When fathers are supported to be active parents at home, and mothers and fathers learn how to work as a team to meet work and family needs, both parents become powerful role models for their children.
We explored the importance of flexibility at work and at home at our last Pioneering Leaders Summit – a biennial event that brings together all of ThirdPath’s “integrated leaders”. Are you a leader who has moved ahead at work while also creating time and energy for your life outside of work? Contact us. We’d like to tell you more about our plans for Pioneering Leader Summit 2017.