While achieving true work-life balance may always be a work in progress for even the most dedicated woman entrepreneur, integrating the two in a healthy, happy way certainly is according to the hundreds of women (and a few men) who attended and spoke at this year’s National Women’s Business Conference (WBC) hosted by NAWBO in Spokane, Washington.
A conference favorite by far was Elizabeth Gilbert, bestselling author of Eat, Pray Love and Big Magic, who kicked off the 2018 event with a Monday morning keynote. Her talk focused on overcoming fears, living more creatively and pursuing dreams. She shared a turning point in her own life as a young, unpublished author where her “unofficial mentor” asked, “What are you willing to give up to have the life you keep pretending you want?” It’s the single most important question she’s been asked and made her pause to think about where all her energy was going as well as the time of day when she’s at her best and who’s getting that time. It led to her successfully writing her first novel. “My suggestion is you take it; get greedy about time for you.”
She also shared these important insights:
- Priorities: You hear women described all the time as strong, resilient, etc., but what would it take for a woman to be relaxed? The only way to truly feel relaxed is to know what you care about most; you cannot care about everything and everyone equally if you want to be passionate about anything.
- Boundaries: These are very tricky for a lot of women. Draw a circle around what’s sacred in your life and don’t let that line be crossed.
- Mysticism: Understand that you’re not the only driving force in the universe. There are natural forces that are bigger than you.
Elizabeth ultimately reminded everyone, like a good friend once told her, “Everything is going to be okay.”
Following breakout sessions and time exploring and connecting in the exhibit hall, a panel that included entrepreneurs Carolyn Rodz, Adreanna Limbach and Jill Kerrigan and moderated by Emily Shanks of Bank of America discussed how caring for ourselves physically and emotionally benefits us as women business owners. “It’s more about work-life integration than work-life balance as we’ve traditionally been taught,” said Emily.
The panel discussed trends like:
- 49% of women are the primary breadwinners in their families
- Women do 60% of unpaid work in their households
- There is a growing trend of women struggling with anxiety and depression
Jill, who owns a successful creative firm and is a recent cancer survivor, gave this advice: “Learn how to effectively delegate. Also, it’s okay to say no and accept help.”
Tuesday’s luncheon keynote speaker, Shabnam Mogharabi of SoulPancake, had a powerful message, too. She spoke about the importance of joy and how to bring more of it into your life. She offered these five tips to harness the power of joy and find your purpose:
- Joy is not a bad word—people crave positivity (that internal state of positive psychology) that comes from acts like public service and showing gratitude.
- Practice gratitude—it’s more powerful than you realize; expressing gratitude to other people causes happiness levels to increase.
- Authenticity is required—get comfortable to create real and vulnerable experiences; vulnerability is key.
- Know yourself—you can’t tell a compelling story without finding your voice; knowing yourself helps you be resilient in tough times.
- It’s okay to take risks sometimes—don’t be afraid to shift your perspective and go where it’s a little scary.
In between it all were incredible moments that invited conference attendees to connect with themselves and others and practice what this year’s conference theme of “Work Well, Life Well” is all about. The theme permeated every aspect of the event, from informational breakout sessions; to morning power walks and yoga; to an outing to visit local Spokane women business owners in their downtown coffee, catering, consignment and gift shops; to exhibit hall activities and giveaways, including relaxing candles, quick massages and travel-size exercise bands; to the opening reception and closing gala.
A very special thanks to these amazing conference sponsors who help make this whole idea of work-life integration possible for NAWBO’s members and women entrepreneurs everywhere all year long:
Bank of America
Frost Todd Brown
Global Public Speaking
Master Your Card
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