‘Comparison is the thief of joy’
– Theodore Roosevelt
Parenthood can be overwhelming and when we’re overwhelmed we look for shortcuts. We find checklists and read articles and ask questions, with the underlying hope that external advice will solve our problems. How long should I take parental leave? How many days should I put my child into childcare? Should I just get a nanny? We keep asking the questions and continue receiving the answers, which are often contradictory and add to the confusion. This perpetual advice-seeking also leaves us comparing our own experience with the experiences of others; which can leave us feeling like we’re doing it wrong or just not doing life as well as the person next to us. As Theodore Roosevelt once said, ‘Comparison is the thief of joy’.
Instead of asking an endless amount questions, what we really need is the confidence and agency to make decisions aligned to our own values. As TransGrid’s Michael Lowe told us after using the Grace Papers platform, “There’s a time to listen to people for advice and there’s a time to establish what works best for you and your family. Focus on working these out and it will save you a load of stress and confusion.”
At Grace Papers, we believe ‘confidence’ means you have enough belief in yourself to push boundaries and influence outcomes with an authentic voice, while ‘agency’ means you have the vision, freedom and resolve to live to your potential. When you understand your own values and have the confidence and agency to live by them, life becomes easier and more enjoyable.
Anyone juggling multiple responsibilities is often asked, ‘What is your secret to balancing it all?’ The answer generally focuses on the concept of balancing time. However, the secret to achieving balance is actually through an alignment of your values. Our values help us understand who we are, what we want, and how we like to operate in the world. When you understand your values, it becomes far easier to make decisions as it comes from a place of authenticity, self-awareness and self-confidence.
This allows you to let go of the opinions and judgements of others, and move forward with greater ease, especially when work and parenthood become more challenging. In understanding and then living in a way that is true to your values, you become a fuller, more confident version of yourself. In fact, recent research tells as an understanding of your values builds confidence. The results of our 18-month research evaluation project – conducted in partnership with Victorian Office for Women and Macquarie University – revealed that 78 percent of participants who went through the Grace Papers program and explored their values felt more confident to approach their manager about career-related issues including parental leave and flexible work arrangements.
As we reach the middle of the year, where our schedules are overloaded and we are perhaps overwhelmed, exploring – or revisiting – our values can help us live with more alignment and, in turn, build more confidence and agency.