By Sierra Morris, Staff Writer
"Women in power aren't really likable in our society," Emilie Aries said to me, as she explained the difficulty women face in finding support in their communities. As women, whether we're in positions of power or not, we spend a lot of our lives putting others' needs before our own. Millennial women have the opportunity to change the way we represent and perform as women in power.
I had the opportunity to speak with Emilie Aries, Founder & CEO of Bossed Up - an innovative personal and professional training organization that helps women craft sustainable careers. Below Emilie discusses her journey to achieve balance and shares with me her top tips for preventing burnout in a connected world.
S: Tell me the story behind Bossed Up?
E: In a journal, I chronicled the rocky years of my life between the ages 24 and 26. I went from being laid-off and in bad relationships, to training for my first triathlon, getting a good job, and getting into a healthy relationship. I then asked myself, “How do I bottle this good transition?” I also did a lot of deep thinking about how to help others replicate that transition. I started Bossed Up during the summer of 2013, and I made it an interactive experience. I wanted to get women thinking critically about how to put themselves first.
S: Do you think it's important to have a support system when trying to prevent burnout? If so, who do you look to for support?
E: Absolutely! It’s important to step back and acknowledge the term "burnout". The World Health Organization (WHO) says burnout is a disorder. Some symptoms of burnout include; feeling a lack of effectiveness, feeling exhausted and depleted, and feeling like no matter what you do you can’t escape those feelings. Burnout can be a gateway to other disorders if you don’t try to fix it. It can also be hard to try to combat because we're connected to work 24/7 through our mobile devices. In otherwords, there's no longer a clear line between what constitutes work and home. Regardless, people that allow themselves to step away from the work and the stress are proven to be much happier and healthier. And happier and healthier people are more effective and efficient in their work.
Community is also a good cure for burnout. Women in power aren’t really likable in our society, so it can be hard feeling supported in that way hence the reason for creating Bossed UP Bootcamp. My family, my friends from college, and my significant other really help keep me motivated and keep me going when I need support. You have to surround yourself with people that aren’t full of anxiety themselves.
S: What would you say is the difference between preventing burnout and just managing stress?
E: I don’t think there’s a huge difference between the two. Burnout is chronic stress, so to reduce stress is to reduce burnout. We feel this perceived state of trying to catch up with one another and trying to catch up with where we think we should be. I’ve finally learned to flip it. Daily, I make a conscience effort to enjoy the journey as much as the destination, because achievement is not as satisfactory as progress. If we celebrate progress, we are in a much better position to learn, we’re much more likely to experience reduced stress, and we’re much less likely to burnout.
S: What's the first thing millennials should do to create a healthy work/life balance?
E: Well, the first thing I think you should do is an energy audit. I’m a big believer in using your calendar in two ways:
1. As a way to track certain behaviors.
Calendars can provide a lot of insight into your week, but most people don't look back once the week is over. I encourage everyone to look at your calendar over past week and ask yourself, "What days did I feel really good or feel really stressed, and what were the good or bad outcomes?" This segways beautifully into number 2.
2. As a forecasting tool to forecast your capacity in the future.
I have different colors on my calendar for fun, fitness, work, and writing and I build them into every week. At a glance, I know whether I'm going to have a balanced and lifegiving week. It’s not knowing when you’ll have time to pursue your pleasures that can stress you out even more. It’s like, "Where can I find the time?"
Well, you can make time by using your calendar as both an analysis tool and a forecasting tool. Then you can actually say to people, “Hey, I can’t do [that thing] this week, but I can absolutely do it the next week.” Or, you can say “no” and make room for the bigger “yes”. I find I’m feeling most burnedout when I go off the schedule (like, when other people are asking of you and of your time and energy and limited resources, and you want to give everything you can), but over-committing is, I think, the base of all real stress.
S: Why is it important for millennials to understand the importance of work/life balance?
E: If we want to make an impact in our lifetime, I think it’s really important that we stay engaged in the workforce and that our full talents are realized, and our full potential is realized. We’re only going to do that if we are feeling as energized in a decade as we do right now. I think it’s so critically important to feel a sense of engagement and sustainability in our lives, for the same reasons it’s important to pursue sustainable solutions for the planet. We can all be here and live to our fullest extent and make this place a better place for the entirety of our time that we have here. It’s really just to be able to live and create a world in which all of us can realize our full potential.
S: Any concluding thoughts you'd like to share?
E: I think this is a great topic that you’re discussing and I’m glad that you’re giving me the opportunity – which I appreciate. There aren’t a lot of people that speak frankly about gender, burnout and engagement, and if folks want to learn more, they really should sign up for my email at bossedup.org - that’s where the real magic happens.
You can learn more about Emilie and watch her Tedx Talk "The Power of No" at her website: www.emiliearies.com
You can learn more about Bossed Up, Bossed Up Bootcamp, and the Bossed Up Email at: www.bossedup.org