Finding Balance, One Phase at a Time

Rosie Pope, entrepreneur and former TV star, offers a new way to look at balance.

Rosie Pope
Rosie Pope doesn’t believe in attaining balance—or, rather, she doesn’t believe in attaining balance right this second. Instead, the the founder of Rosie Pope Maternity (and former Bravo reality star) looks at her life in phases. There was the no-kids, no-husband, workaholic phase of her 20s, which gave way to the phase she’s in now: the four-kids, great-husband-and-business-partner, successful entrepreneur phase. No phase is actually balanced at all, but it doesn’t matter—it’s about looking at things in terms of your lifetime and adjusting your goals based on the season you find yourself in at any given moment. We sat with Rosie to get her advice on staying sane and seizing each day as it comes.

1. Enjoy the moment—it won’t last

I wish I had been able to see my life in phases when I was beginning. The concept of “balance” can be misleading. It’s okay to be a workaholic when you’re young, it’s the right time to be. As you become a mom, you can adjust your working schedule and perhaps spend more time at home—it’s the right time to be there for all those cuddles. Equally, as your kids grow up, it might be the right time to start a new venture. Life is hopefully long, yet we try to cram it all into our 20s and early 30s. The reality is the best is yet to come.

2. Take a lesson from your loved ones

My dad was a successful geophysicist, but at 31 he decided to train as a ballet dancer and he went on to have a successful career. Then he turned his talents to construction and built beautiful homes. Now, he does nothing but ski, drink wine and read first-edition books by mountaineers in the French Alps. Each phase was radically different, but totally committed.

3. Make it count

Napa Valley, spin classes and time to get my nails done are not in my current phase, but I don’t let it get me down. When this phase passes, and I’m full of Napa Valley, it’s possible I’ll want the old phase back just a little! My goal is to live to the fullest, and hopefully I’ll be content when it’s time to move on.

4. Find a role model who’s in the same phase

We often look to women who are further along in life to guide us, but that can be overwhelming. If you’re 23 and you’re looking at someone twice your age and comparing yourself to where they’re at and what they’ve achieved, you’ll feel intimidated, not inspired. Focus on women your own age who are doing great and see what things you can learn from them to improve your current situation.

5. Find a mentor who’s way ahead of you

As a young woman, I remember feeling very alone and not sure how I could accomplish everything I wanted to by myself. Then I realized that no one does it alone. While looking outside your generation for a role model can be overwhelming, finding a mentor who is further along in her career and more secure in her achievements can be incredibly reassuring and a great source of support.

6. Stop complaining and take action

Everyone needs a good gripe, but we have the tendency to complain about the state we’re in and not do anything about it. It takes intentional fortitude to change things. My husband and I are also business partners and we’ve realized, if something’s not working—if we spend even an hour at the dinner table complaining about something; an employee, a situation, whatever—then it has to change. We make a plan and then we take action. "Enjoy the moment—it won't last!" - Rosie Pope on finding balance, one phase at a time

7. Nothing happens overnight

Give yourself time to accomplish your goals. We listen to other people’s stories and their successes seem pinned to a single moment. We see, for example, that Oprah wore a pair shoes and bam!—they’re an instant hit. The company sells out and their website crashes. However, we don’t see the hundreds of hours it took for the designer to get to that moment.

8. Visualize your goals and work backwards

Think about where you want to be at the end of each phase, and then make a game plan by working backwards to where you are now. You don’t have to have everything mapped out, but think through the first couple steps. Once you get there, think through the next couple steps, and so on.

9. Evaluate yourself

When you set goals, say, “By the end of the year I want to do X.” Then commit to checking in in six months. When we don’t set a time to self-evaluate, that’s when we end up plodding along and doing the same thing for five years without realizing it.

10. Don’t wallow. Forgive yourself and move on

You will make many mistakes—and some will be massive. Everyone else will get over it when you do, so give yourself the ability to mess up so that you can learn. Knowing when you have erred is part of the skill of succeeding.

11. Be confident in your achievements

I know so many amazing women who don’t see all the things they’ve achieved—only the things they haven’t. Have confidence in yourself. That doesn’t mean you should be arrogant, but it does mean that you should be honest about what it is that you're awesome at and proud of the great work you’ve done. For more from Rosie Pope, tune in to Conversations with Rosie on YouTube—and for the pregnant set, check out Rosie Pope Maternity as the line continues to expand with Rosie Pope Baby and the addition of nursing apparel and accessories this fall. Photograph by Angela Morris

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