By Dr. Maria G. Hernandez
Latina Cubicle Confidential™
I have yet to meet a Latina that isn’t a poster child for Super Woman. We plan weddings, quinceñeras, baptisms, parties — all the while juggling the family routines of getting kids to school, paying bills and putting dinner on the table. Somehow we then manage to be at work bright and early to start a new round of multi-tasking.
We get to client calls, answer email, produce reports and lead co-workers on projects. On top of all that, we sometimes get asked to plan the office party or off-site meeting!
The value Latinos place on community, family and being a strong team player is something that we can all be proud about our cultural focus on being responsible to others. Managing the expectations placed on us by our family, friends and co-workers cannot undermine our first and foremost responsibility: our well-being.
Super Woman needs sleep, healthy food, exercise and some “me” time! An even harder issue for us to navigate is whether all that activity keeps us from focusing on results. The results that you want for your career and your family require enormous focus and attention. Never confuse being busy with making progress on the results you want.
Here are a couple of steps I often work through with my clients to help bring some clarity to the chaos. First, it is important to look at your roles — manager, entrepreneur, mom, sister, daughter, wife — and ask what is your vision of yourself in those roles. What does success look like in each role?
Suppose you see yourself in a higher leadership role at work. Have you identified what your boss may be looking for you to achieve in order to be considered for more responsibility? If you don’t have a clue, talk about it during your next one-to-one.
Next, look at how you spend your day and ask: What did I do today to get closer to meeting those expectations? As you consider all the choices and various activities you might pursue during the day, you’ll want to ask: will this help me get closer to my goal or not?
Depending on your career plans, you may want to identify separate areas of activity to focus on for your role — projects to pursue, professional development workshops, or strategic networking. For each of these areas, take the time to write down a few markers or milestones to meet: “I will take the class on finance for non-finance managers next month” or “I will volunteer to lead the next project team meeting”. This kind of focus on goals and achieving key results cannot be taken lightly.
The power of writing down your goals, making your plans very visible will take effort. Yet if you have the ability to juggle so many other tasks, you can do this and look back on a year to see genuine progress.
It helps to have a mentor to share this plan with to get feedback and to keep you on track. Another technique is to “go public” with your plan among your trusted network of colleagues or a family member. It really helps to have others hold your feet to the fire and keep you on track!
While it may be hard to make choices on what to do with your time and energy, the sad alternative is that you can spend a lot of time being busy but at the end of the day, the month, or the year — you may just find you’ve mastered the art of juggling or multi-taking and still no closer to your goals.
Super Woman--you deserve better!
Join me at LatinaVIDA™ in April.
Dr. Maria G. Hernandez has 20 years experience consulting in both the United States and Mexico to senior executives in Fortune 50 companies and facilitated change initiatives for elected officials and their staff. She has worked in academia, business, nonprofits, technology startups, and public agencies. For more information, visit Latina Cubicle Confidential™.