Louise Heite had a hunch that juggling two kids under three, a job that required round-the-clock conference calls, and a husband who traveled internationally half the month wasn’t sustainable. After moving her family to New York, she began pursuing a new path that led to empowering other women to course-correct their lives too.
“There’s so much energy and so much desire that’s locked up for me to find my own path and make my own dreams come true,” she realized during a new moon meditation.
Louise had recently traded her corporate gig for full-time motherhood, which left her feeling like, “I need something that really feeds my soul.” She knew that she wasn’t alone in trying to find a happy medium as a parent that’s “present while also fulfilling my own dreams.”
“I think what a lot of us mothers these days have to deal with is, first of all, finding a balance between career and also being present with your kids,” she says, so “you don’t reflect back in like 10 or 20 years from now and think ‘they grew up so quickly.’”
Whether it’s rethinking where we live or carving out more flexibility in work hours, Louise believes what’s holding us back is speaking up. She says it can be difficult for women to look inwards, “open that jar and basically then be confident in their own ability to pursue whatever dream that’s in there.”
“Sometimes we get stuck in our own heads,” she says, acknowledging that she often has to coach herself through fear. “It’s a practice what I preach type of approach whenever something negative—or a limiting belief—is coming out.”
In her executive coaching practice, Louise channels her experience leading corporate teams to help women define their own paths to success.
“Ultimately, it’s confidence and self worth, and striking a balance,” she says. “I work with new moms and it’s a little bit of redefining their identity as a mother because often we can no longer commit to the long hours of working that we’ve been doing before kids, yet we feel like we have to do the same amount of hours because otherwise we’re not going to be good enough.”
Focusing on what we need to do our best work–and then asking for it–often leads to a win-win. Parting ways is far from being the only answer to burnout.
“As a woman having worked in corporate environments and then also working for myself, I just don’t believe anymore in the 9-to-5 concept of the world,” she says. “I don’t think this is how we function—that our optimized work is done between the hours of 9:00 and 5:00. So even just flexibility, knowing when you’re most productive and really optimizing those hours is something that I highly recommend.”
Louise points out that “we often live in a space where we think we can do it all, and if we cannot do it all, that we’re a failure,” which was exactly what I experienced as a new mother. Fortunately, it led to connecting with other moms by sharing their stories, realizing there are many different definitions of success, and then making changes so I could strike a better balance.
“It’s about knowing what you really want and thinking about that for a moment,” she says. “There are obviously different paths that we can take after kids and knowing what you want to fulfill—I think it’s a big one.”
While 2020 continues to throw us all for a loop, it’s creating endless opportunities to make peace with change and explore what really matters to our families and ourselves.
“We often go back to the normal or the comfort of what we know because that’s where our worth comes from,” says Louise, cautioning against chasing an old definition of success “only to figure out afterwards that it actually no longer works for us, or that it’s draining us.”
“If you’re not happy somewhere, or not happy with a certain situation, there’s only one person that can change,” she says.
“You can really, truly create what it is that you want to create,” she says. “But you have to dare to make the ask and be open and vulnerable.”
“It can still be a no, but at least you’ve asked.”