Jacqui Alder

Jacqui Alder – Resetting Your Priorities Post Pandemic

Jacqui Alder, Author of Clarity, Simplicity, Success provides insight on how we can adjust our priorities to align with our values post pandemic. Jacqui has also created a new free downloadable resource aimed at helping women who are running their own business reflect on the alignment of their business and personal values.

Normal wasn’t working well for women before the pandemic.

What is passing for normal in this (almost) post-pandemic world isn’t either. Yes, we have more acceptance of flexible work, which is great if it works for you: this isn’t the case for everyone. Work from home, and the consequent blurring of the lines between work and personal life has added to the mental over-load for many.

Women tell me they feel increased fatigue, and a heightened sense of inner conflict over the tensions between personal and career role expectations. They also report a strong need to re-evaluate and reset the direction of their lives.

It’s not only women who feel this way.

The pandemic experience has caused a similar shift for men too.

Now more men have now experienced working home they have greater awareness of the associated challenges which have long been familiar to women. The increased acceptance of flexible work means men have greater choice than they had pre-pandemic. These combined factors have accelerated a values shift that was already under way. Namely, increased numbers of men want to be more involved in the aspects of their private lives that have traditionally been considered the female domain.

Despite this, the structural barriers that impede women and men in this regard remain, leaving them caught between the realities of the present and historical social expectations. However, these experiences from the pandemic years have also presented an opportunity.

Women and men more are aligned in their desire for change.

These past few years have provided a collective wake-up call that has changed what we value and altered our personal priorities. This phenomenon has revealed a material piece of common ground for both men and women as they seek more equitable and humane ways of integrating life and work – the primacy of personal values.

I started this work after reading research about the relatively higher level of importance women placed on their personal values compared to men and the benefits of personal values reflection in helping women overcome stereotype threat. Anecdotal evidence from my work is the magnitude of this difference has decreased. The result being that men are undergoing a similar reassessment of the life their priorities as women.

However, we now face the new challenges associated with rising interest rates and increased costs of living. As economic pressure rises, making decisions based upon personal values and priorities will become more complex. I share the following lessons from my work with women in the hope they may be helpful to anyone who is seeking to give personal values higher priority in their approach to life and work.

Lesson 1: Choosing and defining your values isn’t as simple as it seems.

Over the past 5 years, I’ve seen direct evidence that confirms the findings of the research regarding the impact of values reflection for women. There is, however, a caveat: whilst conceptually simple genuine values reflection isn’t easy in practice for women.

I’ve observed the following three trends which cast light on why this is so.

  1. Women initially struggled to honestly identify which of their values were uppermost priority. That is, they selected their priorities based on their belief regarding which ‘should’ be most important rather than their actual feeling.
  2. The values women selected tended to be on the softer end of the spectrum; values such as wealth, status, and success were least favoured, if not openly scorned.
  3. When priority values were clearly and candidly articulated, women focussed their application of these values towards others – often at the expense of their own needs.

Exceptions to the above were rare.

Lesson 2: Values selection can be impacted by unconscious bias.

It became evident that the impact of internalised stereotypes had influenced the women’s selections, the meaning they attached to their values, and how they applied them. The good news is that, after reflection and review, most women realised their choices had not been authentic, and began the work to clarify and refine their values.

If this holds true for women, then what of men? Do male stereotypes affect their choices?

My view is, given we’re all human and hence equally susceptible to the influences of stereotypes, this is likely the case for men too.

Lesson 3: Applying your values is difficult.

Working through an initial values identification exercise generally generates positive energy. That is, until the discussion turns to how to respond to values conflict, and how to draw boundaries with significant others or in stressful contexts. Yet these are the situations where our values come to the fore; when we face decisions about where our personal red lines are and what compromises to make without compromising ourselves.

Lesson 4: The relative priority of your values will change over time.

You change, life happens, and what was important yesterday may no longer be important. Also, even if your priority values don’t change, what they mean to you will. For example, one workshop participant was about to have her first baby. Whilst family remained as a core value for her, what it meant when she last thought about it as a younger single woman, was different to what it now meant for her as a soon to be parent who was geographically separated from her relatives.

Lesson 5: If you’re unsure of your next step, start here.

If you’re feeling the effects of the current values shift and are unsure what to do next, honestly re-examine your values, and use them as the compass to decide your next step. Below are some suggestions to help you do this:

  • When choosing your values, don’t get stuck on the value word, it’s merely a label for your meaning. Describe for yourself why they are important to you to unearth your meaning.
  • Your values start with you, apply to them to yourself first. Check your thoughts, your habits, and the behaviour you accept from others.
  • Use your values to determine where your boundaries are; as per above, the most vital boundary to set is with yourself.
  • When you feel off-centre check on your values alignment; values are the basis of your sense of self, and not feeling yourself is a clue.
  • Review, reinforce, and refresh your values regularly. The more you do this, the more empowered and confident you’ll feel as you face the inevitable challenges of life.

If you need somewhere to start, the values exercise from my self-coaching journal is free to download from my website. Whilst the design is feminine, the content applies to any person. For whilst we’re infinitely different, we’re all equally human.

I wish you all the best.

Jacqui

ABOUT JACQUI ALDER

Jacqui has had an extensive international career in human resources working in global businesses across multiple industry sectors including manufacturing, transport, mining, oil and gas, and defence contracting.

Motivated by core values of fairness, compassion, and service Jacqui now uses those experiences, along with her coaching experience and insights from research, to help women overcome stereotypes and thrive.

In 2017, Jacqui founded Clarity Simplicity Success for Women. The purpose of this venture is to empower women to create success on their own terms; hence overcome the traditional, and gendered, concepts of success which constrain their potential. To help women achieve this, she has published a series of self-coaching resources under the Clarity Simplicity Success brand.

Jacqui also enjoys being of service to women in the community and has done so as a member and board member of organisations supporting the advancement of women. Currently, she works in partnership with her local council to deliver confidence building workshops for women.

Jacqui’s qualifications include a Master of Commerce plus accreditations in Change Management, Executive Coaching, and Project Management. She is also a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

ABOUT FEMECONOMY

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Femeconomy educates consumers, business owners and budget owners on how their purchasing decisions can create gender equality.

Femeconomy identifies and amplifies companies that have at least 30% women on the Board of Directors or are 50% female owned.

Companies with female leaders are more likely to have workplace flexibility and less likely to have a gender pay gap, so they are helping to create gender equality for their employees and communities.

Posted by Jade Collins - Femeconomy Director

Jade Collins has 20 years’ global experience in corporate executive Human Resources and management consulting roles in the Mining, Energy and Aerospace industries, leading large scale, complex multi-million-dollar change management programs. Jade finds the combination of her HR, Psychology and MBA qualifications and her leadership experience is invaluable for increasing gender equality in leadership across industries. Jade was a member of the Queensland Government's Strategic Advisory Group for the Toward Gender Parity: Women on Boards Initiative and the 2019 CQU Alumni of the Year for Social Impact for her work with Femeconomy.