Balance of Work and Life: Long-Term

Jasbina Ahluwalia asks Sheila Dharmarajan: The evolution of the field is interesting. Now, people of all different backgrounds can find a place in the industry.

I know you are a graduate of Wharton. I’ve spoken at Wharton, Columbia and HBS at women’s student conferences.

Regardless of the panel that I was participating in or moderating, the issue of work/life balance invariably came up.

As a high-achieving professional, wife and mother, do you have any guidance for women who are in or are planning to enter a high-pressure career?



Sheila Dharmarajan

Balance of Work and Life: Illusion

I think that’s part of it. That idea of this perfect work/life balance, looking good while doing it and wearing high heels is really elusive.

I don’t think people should try and achieve that.

One of the best pieces of advice that I received about work/life balance is, don’t think about it from a day-to-day perspective or, “Is my life balanced?” from a 24-hour perspective.


Balance of Work and Life: Long-Term Perspective

You need to take a longer time view on it. Over a certain time frame, if you can say, “I think I’ve balanced my life, work and personal well-being in a way that makes me happy, then I’m doing okay.”

It’s almost impossible to find that on a daily basis. That’s just not the way the world works.

Everything ebbs and flows. There are times that you’re going to have to focus on work and not spend as much time with family.


Balance of Work and Life: Cycle

There are times when you have to put the family first and put work to the side.

There are times that you need for you.

Always take a step back and think about balance from a much bigger timeline and perspective than from the day-to-day.


Balance of Work and Life: What Do You Want

My second point of view is, if it’s something you really want, you’ll figure it out.

The important part is that you really want to have it.

I don’t think there is anything wrong in saying, “There are certain parts of my life that are more important to me than others, and I’m willing to forego the others.”

I think that’s perfectly fine.


Balance of Work and Life: Nothing is Perfect

One of the things that I’ve learned throughout my various jobs is, if you want to make it work, you’ll somehow figure out a way. It’s never perfect. It’s never pretty.

I think about it like a duck. Everyone looks calm and cool above water, but underneath, they’re paddling their legs furiously.

If it’s really important to you and it’s something that you’re passionate about, you will make it work.


Balance of Work and Life: Evolve

It’s something you have to continually work at and evolve. It’s something that I’m facing in my life, not only every day, but also in different scales as well.

Right now, I have a son who is almost three years old. We’re expecting a sibling for him in August. It’s a different phase of my life.

There are different expectations. It’s something that you have to continually think about and work at.


Balance of Work and Life: You’ll Get What You Want

In the big picture, if it’s something that you want, you will be able to achieve it.

Don’t be afraid to ask. If you need flexibility in certain things or you need help, I don’t think there is any shame in asking for help, getting help, outsourcing and talking to people about it.

You have to make it work for you. In order to do that, you have to ask for what you need.


Tell Us:

Ladies, have you found a balance of work and life? Share your tips with us in the comments section below.


The above is an excerpt from Jasbina’s interview with Sheila Dharmarajan.

The entire interview transcript is at: Sheila Dharmarajan Interview – A Career in Private Equity, Investment Banking & Business Media Reporting

Listen to the entire interview on: Intersections Match Talk Radio – Jasbina’s Lifestyle Show

Listen to the entire interview on Blog Talk Radio: A Career in Private Equity, Investment Banking & Business Media Reporting

Listen to the entire interview on iTunes