Being a successful professional and caring for a family are both important aspects in the lives of many women around the world today. Achieving success and feeling fulfilled in both facets of our lives might be a challenging journey — but a very rewarding one, too.
Long hours and overlapping work often fill the life of a a working mother. Being flexible, resilient and multi-tasking are some of the skills that we develop along the way. There are days when balance seems impossible. What I have learned is that it’s all a matter of organization and prioritizing. I will share some of the strategies I have developed since I became a working mom; I hope you find them useful on your pursuit of integrating your goals of being a successful professional and caring mother.
1. Know your self-worth. Don’t think of yourself as a person who splits herself into different, conflicting roles; stop trying to divide your identities as the mother, the professional, the friend, etc. Embrace all these roles with joy: you are a multifaceted, complete woman with many talents and core values. Being a mother does not make you any less competent in the corporate world. Self-worth is the foundation on which you should outline your personal and professional goals, and yes, both are equally valuable. Dream big, and aim at making a positive impact, not only in your corporation and in your family, but in the world.
2. Manage your time, prioritize. Many successful working mothers often say that they need more hours in a day to get everything done. We still face the burden of double shifts, and even though we are capable of doing many things, we are at risk of eventual burnout. I manage my time by carefully programming all my activities at strategic times. I start my day quite early, so I can take advantage of the most productive morning hours. I schedule important meetings and decision-making sessions while my girls are at school. Later in the day, I enjoy picking them up and setting apart family time for us to bond, talk about our projects and plans, share a meal, walk the dogs or read in the evening. Once my girls are in bed, I schedule time to go over the agenda for the next day, making a list of priorities and important issues to tackle in the early-morning shift. I might read and reply to e-mails or catch up on the news or a good read. This ritual keeps me well- focused and reduces stress.
3. Delegate and synergize. Do not fall into a Wonder Woman delusion. It is impossible to try to oversee everything. Being capable of doing many things does not mean you have to do them all yourself! A working mother requires mentoring, team-work and a support system.
At home, accept all the help you can get, and do not aim for perfection; your kid´s room does not need look like the ones in the cover of a magazine. If relatives offer to take your children out for a movie or for a walk in the park, trust their caregiving. Learning to socialize without you being present boosts your children´s autonomy, and gives you some extra hours to catch up on work, or to be with yourself.
4. Nurture yourself from the inside out. Your personal well-being is a priority; to have energy, you need to be in good health — physically and emotionally. Choose the right foods, especially fresh fruits and vegetables and learn how to fix easy meals based on a healthy diet. Sleep well, exercise and meditate- this does not take time, it adds time, since it keeps you focused and energized. If you find yourself overscheduled, try squeezing in a bit of exercise, a brisk walk, for instance. Exercise can give you a burst of energy to help you accomplish a lot more.
5. Compete with yourself only. Stay focused, believe in your mission, in your capabilities and inner wisdom. When you feel distressed or tired, find motivation and strength within yourself. Live according to your values and dreams, and let go of archaic and external notions of what motherhood should be like. Don’t try to find a single path to make things work for you and your family; break architypes and create your own systems. If you feel that you have failed at some point, learn the lesson and keep going. The only mistake is to have never tried at all. Your example is a seed that will flourish and motivate new generations to follow their dreams, and to never let gender define them.
By pursuing your dreams and integrating all the wonderful aspects of your life into a mission, you are becoming a role-model and an example to new generations.
The joys and trials of motherhood do not require giving up entrepreneurship or vice-versa. It is possible to have it all, after all. Go for it.
Angélica Fuentes, Founder Equal Invest
Angélica Fuentes is a Latin American businesswoman and impact investor, who has been recognized by Forbes Magazine as one of Mexico’s most influential women.
Ms. Fuentes was appointed CEO of Grupo Imperial in 1992 and quickly positioned the company as a top player in Northern Mexico’s energy sector. Under her leadership, Grupo Imperial’s annual growth rate increased from 5% in 1992 to 9.5% in 2005. Ms. Fuentes served as President of the Business Energy Network of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Agreement (APEC) from 2002 to 2004, and as President of the Mexican Natural Gas Association from 1996 to 2000. From 2007 to 2015, she served as CEO of Grupo Omnilife-Angelissima-Chivas. Under her leadership, the company became one of the top 100 corporations in Mexico.
Throughout her career, Ms. Fuentes has dedicated significant time and resources to NGOs, international organizations and professional groups that support the cause of women. She participated in the World Economic Forum’s Gender Parity Programme, and led the Mexican Gender Parity Taskforce. She currently serves on Secretary Clinton’s International Council on Women’s Business Leadership; is member of the Private Sector Leadership Advisory Council of UN Women; is a Global Advocate for the Girl Up Campaign, a United Nations Foundation program; co-chairs the PVBLIC LATAM regional platform; is member of the Latin American Program Advisory Board of the Woodrow Wilson International Center; and is member of the Global Dignity’s International Council of Advisors.
Her work in this field has been recognized by numerous honors and awards. In 2015, UN Women gave her the Women’s Empowerment Principles CEO Leadership Award; she was the first female CEO to receive this award for championing gender equality in the private sector. In 2016, PVBLIC Foundation, Ismael Cala Foundation, and the United Nations gave her the award for Latin Woman Empowerment. In 2017, she received the Corporate Social Responsibility Award from The Maestro Cares Foundation.
Gender equality, women empowerment and the eradication of poverty have always been a priority in all her endeavors. In 2014, she established the Angelica Fuentes Foundation. In 2016, she founded A Complete and The Imperative Fund. In 2017, she founded Equal Invest, The Beauty Station and A Complete Journey.