Let’s be honest, life is hard. Adding a demanding career can make it even worse. The list and tasks to complete are never-ending. Constant emails, office politics, unproductive meetings, and managers that we despise, or managers that despise us. Then we try to squeeze in Saturday brunches with friends, date nights with hubby and a trip to Sky Zone with our kids or a dance class at the gym. The weekend rushes by then we’re back to the grind. We are busy, but more than that, we are Superwoman.
Below are 3 movies that provide a glimpse into what it can really be like to work in business as a woman. Although these films are exaggerated and mostly comic relief, they share a few great lessons on how to balance your personal life and the business world.
I Don’t Know How She Does It
The synopsis: Sarah Jessica Parker’s character juggles working in the finance/banking industry for a top firm and managing her family life. In the investment firm, she works with several enterprise clients. She is called away from home for impromptu clients all over the country. She works late nights and weekends, and somehow she makes time to take care of her two children and have a healthy relationship with her husband. For women, working in business can have several layers: the pressure to look fabulous, be more prepared than our male counterparts, exude confidence at work, and somehow manage a husband, kids, family, and friends.
- Work/life balance is a must, not a luxury: I can only imagine what it is like to manage business trips and working on weekends with children involved. I’m not there yet, but I take my hat off to women who manage all these pieces with grace. Work/life balance is not an impossible goal, it is a necessity. When trying to fit everything in and get everything done, your stress levels are skyrocketing. Stress can lead to lower immune systems, depression and a list of other ailments. Take care of yourself! Ask for flexibility at work and say no when your schedule is too full.
- Make the best of your business trips: In my role, I get to visit clients in cities all over the country. It always sounds nice and lavish to family and friends when I say I’m going on a business trip, but sometimes its really not as exciting as it sounds. Business trip for me = struggling through the airport security, eating airport food or room service because it’s late, realizing I left my shoes or some other necessity, then meeting with the client (my favorite part, but also the most stressful), then right to the airport and airport security again. The whole thing can be very tiring sometimes. Now, when I plan business trips, I make a point to visit at least one main attraction in the city I’m visiting. This way I don’t only see the airport and my hotel room. Last year, I had a client visit in Philadelphia. Although I was exhausted, I forced myself to visit the Liberty Bell and relived a bit of history. It made to whole trip worthwhile and it gave me a few great stories to share with my client during the meeting.
The Devil Wears Prada
The synopsis: This movie follows a young writer who lands an amazing assistant position at a top fashion magazine like Vogue, but she is not exactly fashion forward and she seems to constantly fail at her job. In addition, her new boss was the most terrible boss in the world Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep’s character). If you have ‘t watched The Devil Wears Prada, please stop reading and rent it now. Even if only to look at their beautiful outfits.
- Set Boundaries: This movie does a great job of exaggerating a horrible boss who has no limits to what she will ask her employees to do. Anna Hathaway’s character was tasked with creating a science fair project for her boss’ children. That is way too far! Realistically your management or co-worker might ask you to do something that that goes beyond your boundaries, like working on a project over the weekend or planning a client trip on late notice. It is ok to say no and work to find a compromise within your boundaries.
- Work where you are appreciated and respected: The evil boss Miranda Priestly was ridiculously terrible. We have all been there, working in a toxic environment or working for a manager you don’t have a great relationship with. It is not worth the stress. Do your best, but find a new company that better suits your needs. Find a place where you are treated with respect because we all deserve that.
- You are the reason you succeed or fail in anything: To be successful at her job, Anna Hathaway’s character had to get out of her comfort zone, research fashion trends, and seek out mentorship from colleagues that were doing well. I definitely believe in work-life balance, but sometimes you do need to work a few late nights and study hard to be successful at your job.
The synopsis: Rachel McAdams plays Becky, a young news producer was passed over for a promotion and then laid off from her job. She doesn’t let that stop her from pursuing her dream to be a producer for a top news television show. Throughout the movie, she has unending setbacks. During her interview for the new job, the manager says she was too young and inexperienced. Then she has to manage a difficult team, and she works within an extremely low budget. Through it all Becky is determined. She takes extreme risks and experiments with ideas that others are afraid of. In the end, everything pays off.
- Take risks because your crazy idea might be the best idea: Have you ever had an idea and you thought, no I won’t say anything because that’s a silly idea, then 5 minutes later coworker John says exactly what you were thinking? It has definitely happened to me. Sometimes your “out there” idea is exactly what your team or your clients needs to hear. Take the risk and tell people your ideas, sometimes it really pays off.
- No is not a final answer: When someone tells Becky no, she doesn’t take it as a final answer. She is determined. She negotiates with her manager and her colleagues to find a compromise. Sometimes you put your idea out there and the answer is no. Don’t stop there, maybe you need to tweak your idea or ask someone else.