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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
I am the Founder and Managing Director of Sova Financial and Women with Cents. I began my career as an accountant, gradually moving into more consulting roles. I became frustrated with the state of financial planning industry as I had young clients on high incomes who couldn’t afford to access good financial advice.
I found many families in need of support and guidance but again the cost of financial planning precluded them from accessing much needed professional assistance. So I added to my accounting qualifications with an Advanced Diploma in Financial Planning and Diploma in Mortgage Broking, to enable me to offer a holistic service offering.
These days my work is quite varied and I love it. In addition to one on one consultations with clients Australia wide, I am often running financial wellbeing workshops, speaking at events, and invited to interviews on radio, TV, podcasts, etc.
I also released my first book this year, Wonder Woman’s Guide to Money: The Busy Woman’s Guide to Money Management and Wealth Building.
2) What does a typical day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
I am a mum to a 5 year old and 2 year old so I have intentionally built my business to allow me flexibility. On a typical day I will drop the kids off at kindy and childcare, and head to the office.
I get to the office around 930am, usually wrap up around 230pm to do the school run, and spend the afternoons with my kids. I resume work around 6pm once my husband is home to take over parenting duties.
I take Tuesdays and Thursdays off work as my daughter is not in child care on those days and instead I catch up on work on the weekends. On my days off, while my daughter has her midday nap I catch up on any urgent phone calls or emails, but I find most things can wait until I am back in the office the next day.
I usually take client appointments during the day, and am often hosting webinars or speaking at events in the evenings. I also travel around the country a fair bit – again that is by design as I love to travel and explore new places!
3) Do you have any tips, tricks or shortcuts to help you manage your workload and schedule?
Most people are surprised to hear that I am a one woman band! The way I manage to get everything done is to be careful not to over-commit (I find its always easy to fill in any gaps in the schedule) and to outsource what I can.
Triaging what comes up day to day and focusing on open communication and managing expectations with my clients is key to keeping everyone happy and myself stress free. Wherever possible I have taken advantage of automation so that online aspect of the business runs smoothly.
4) What does work life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
To me, work life balance means having the flexibility to be where I am most needed or where I most want to be.
One of the reasons I started my own practice is because I wanted to be able to look after my kids when they are sick (which when they are in day care is A LOT!) and not have to feel guilty about letting my employer down.
The biggest thing has been to get good at saying no, and realising that I won’t be able to help everyone at once. I also made a conscious decision to grow the business at a slow pace until my children are older and more independent. As such I space out client appointments, which enables me to manage my workload with minimal stress.
5) What do you think are some of the best habits you’ve developed over the years to help you strive for success and balance?
Mindfulness is a big one. We live in an age where everyone is impatient and there is an expectation to be on call 24/7. Mindfulness helps me to keep a healthy perspective and not get easily worked up.
6) Are there any books that have helped you improve over the years?
I love all books related to neuroplasticity and behavioural economics. I find it to be such a fascinating field of research.
The Brain That Changes Itself, Money Magic: Clearing Your Path to Money, Time and Happiness, and Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth and Happiness are just a few of my favourites.
7) What is the number one thing you do to make sure you get the most out of your day?
Working short days has significantly helped my productivity. There is no time to waste on procrastination!
8) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
I think it’s worth considering or defining what work life balance means to you. Personally, I think that you have work life balance when you spend most of your time in a way that makes you feel happy and fulfilled, in pursuit of your passions.
In my experience, a lot of our work choices are often defined by our financial needs. In turn, our financial needs are often driven by emotion. For example, I once worked a high paying and demanding job, that didn’t fulfill me.
As a result, I spent a lot of money in the pursuit of fulfillment. Designer clothes, expensive holidays, fancy car. This then continued to be a vicious cycle – you need to keep earning more and working longer, to pay for your lifestyle.
Speaking from personal experience, by identifying what we value most in life, what would make us feel happy and fulfilled on a daily basis, we can curb our desire to spend. If we do that, we find that we now have more choice and control over the hours that we work, and even the line of work that we pursue.
So take time to truly consider – what do you value most in life? For example, for me to be happy and fulfilled, I need to be challenged, I need variety, and I need to be connected to the community and make a difference to the lives of those around me.
When these core values are met (be it through my work or through the way I spend my free time), I feel happy, healthy and energised. I no longer need an annual holiday to escape my life. I no longer need to work long hours because my lifestyle requires me to earn a large amount of money.
This is because I am perfectly content with the way I spend each day. I often have friends telling me I need to ‘work less’ because I seem to always be on the go. What they don’t realise is that being on the go, is my idea of work-life balance.
So long as I am fulfilled and have control over how I spend my time, then as far as I’m concerned – I am in balance.
If you found the above conversation about work-life balance helpful, be sure to check out Balance the Grind’s 42 tips for achieving & maintaining a healthy work-life balance.