Welcome to THE BALANCE PROJECT: a series of relevant and refreshingly candid interviews featuring inspiring and accomplished women talking about work-life balance. I’ve always been curious about how women I admire manage the tragically glorified “doing it all” craze. So I asked them. As I suspected, no one really does “it all.” Everyone’s making sacrifices somewhere. And that should make us all feel a little better. I hope the conversation will be steered toward that reality rather than toward the flawed and dangerous assumption that we should try—or even want to try—to perfectly do “it all.”

By the way, looking for THE BALANCE PROJECT novel that was inspired by these interviews? It’s here.

No. 169: Lisa Janvrin, Founder of YouthfulNest

Age: 44
Where I live: Omaha, NE
Job: Founder of Youthful Nest
Kids: Son Luca (4), step-daughter Anna (13), step-son Kyle (19), step-daughter Alex (21)

Have you changed jobs or adjusted anything in your career to have more balance?
When moving to Omaha from NYC, where I was an executive creative marketing director for an international denim brand, I found little in the lines of full-time jobs in my new city. I eventually became a still photographer and film set stylist for the couple of major players in the area and loved the flexibility it offered me and my family. However, after having my son Luca, I needed a creative opportunity that allowed me a new kind of flexibility, which was working from home while I raised my son. So I had to create my own path and one year later my second baby was born, YouthfulNest.com.

Do you think having “it all” is realistic or impossible and why?
I guess it depends on how one defines “having it all.” I believe I have “it all,” just not “it all” at the same time. Some days, I dedicate more time to personal engagements and other days my time is focused on business. And I’m okay with that.

Do you prefer the phrase “work-life balance” or “work-life integration”? Or do you think they’re both terrible?
Both of these sayings are referring to life as “personal time.” But when you love your “work” and it is so personally rewarding, such as in my case, neither is applicable. To me, it’s just a life with work and personal events rolling in and out of each other like waves on the shore.

I suppose I don’t care much for the term “work-life balance” as I see it as an impossible goal we set for ourselves. Making most women who work feel guilty or like failures in this regard. In fact, I’ve recently observed that this guilt leads to inferior, irrational decision-making in both facets of our lives.

What part of “balance” can you just not seem to figure out?
My husband is my biggest supporter in everything I do, whether that is being a mother, daughter, or entrepreneur. As I dig deep into building my empire, I rarely feel like I am doing right by our relationship, giving it the quality time it deserves. This year as part of my commitment to our relationship, we are taking our first trip away in four years that’s just the two of us.

What part of “balance” are you getting better at?
I was finding myself hopping back on the computer after dinner and working late into the night or early morning. I was getting little and poor quality of sleep. In the last several months, I have become more efficient in my business practices and processes. I find I am not scrambling last minute to complete daily tasks. This allows me to stop my workday at about 5:30pm to start making dinner for my family and not sitting back down at the computer in the evening unless it is imperative that I do so. (Of course I do some social media in the evening after the kids are in bed since it is the same time my target audience is highly engaged. I also might sneak a peek at my email on my phone, but I resist responding until the next day.)

Do you have a favorite time management tool, hack, or other strategy you use that helps you achieve balance that you would recommend to others?
I mentioned in an earlier comment that I have become more efficient in practices and processes. One of those has been to curate my social media content calendar for at least one to two months out in advance. I use a Google Sheets calendar for visual and copy content and then schedule all posts using Hootsuite. This has dramatically curbed my anxiety regarding this effort and has improved the quality of our content.

Another tech tool I am loving is Feedly. It allows me to save an online article I find interesting and read it when I have time to—like while hanging out in my son’s room after story time until he falls asleep.

The other big effort that has been key to achieving balance is some “me-time”: attending a weekend Bikram Yoga class. The hour and a half of focusing on just me is kind of like pressing a reset button for my body and mind.

What’s the best advice you ever heard on balance?
I have a dear friend who is a mother of two, has a husband who works insanely long hours, and is an established expert in her field of professional leadership coaching. She has always been very good at outsourcing tasks, both professional and personal, in order to have more time for doing things she enjoys. She told me it would be a necessity that I learn to do this in order to grow my business. This concept has been a challenge for me to wrap my head around, but I finally got it and now have a cleaning service come once a month. Just that one outsourced task alone has alleviated so much stress and guilt I was feeling for not keeping my family’s home in the same way I had before I opened YouthfulNest.

My husband reminds me to focus on whatever it is that I am doing. If it’s work, I work. If it’s playing cars with my son and him, I’m playing cars. My son also reminds me to put my phone down and “play.” How can one resist such a solid request?

If you had one extra hour in each day and you couldn’t work or be with your family, how would you spend that hour?
Most likely you’d find me at a Bikram yoga class, which is strengthening and relaxing at the same time.

What do you wish you’d known when you were 20?
Probably that I didn’t need to rush life. To really take it all in and not be so concerned with the outcome and enjoy the process.

What do you hope to know by the time you’re 60?
That I was doing the parenting thing right. That I was a good enough parent to raise a curious, kind, and thoughtful human being. You can fail in business and start over one, two, three, four times. You only get one chance at your child.

What one part of your home life do you wish you could outsource?
I mentioned I started outsourcing some cleaning. I have thought about asking them if they do laundry too…

Whose job do you wish you had?
This is the toughest question so far. When I was younger I could have answered this quickly—there were soooo many things I wanted to do and people I looked up to in their careers. Now, I’m simply focused on myself and what I can do.

Whose job are you glad you don’t have?
Those in the military. I find it unfathomable to serve your country when there are those in your country that wouldn’t even serve you a meal in their restaurant because of your sexual preference, color, or religion.

Favorite books?
Fiction: The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami.
Nonfiction: Outliers by Malcom Gladwell and How to Raise the Perfect Dog by Cesar Millan.

What are you reading right now?
I’ve got three books started on my Kindle that haven’t kept my interest enough to make the time. In order to get in any books, I have resorted to audible books which I listen to on my daily walks with my dog. The last ones I actually read over the winter holidays were Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman and Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg.

Biggest vices?
Bikram Yoga.
Instagram and Google Analytics.

How many hours do you generally sleep at night during the week?
First year of my start-up: 4-5 hours. In my second year, I’m back to 8 hours.

What do you read every morning?
Instagram and theSkimm.

Complete the following sentences:
I think I: am one heck of a fortunate person to have both amazing parents who instilled in me the right work-life values and to have the same opportunity as a parent with my own child.
I wish I: had close family and friends living nearby to share the ups and downs with on a regular basis, in person. Not just random phone or Facetime conversations.
My kids: teach me everyday to live better and to set the best example possible for them. (Man, are they watching and taking notes!)

Do you have a personal motto or favorite saying?
Pre-marriage and pre-kids it was, “It’s all about me.” (I even have the T-shirt). While there are so many truths that resonate or make me laugh on Instagram, I have yet to find a new motto that I feel so strongly about that I would wear on my person. I will say that this one, “When one door closes, another one opens,” has been a major theme running through my entire life.

About Lisa:
Lisa Janvrin’s life and design career did not follow the straight and narrow. In fact, if her life and career were a fabric print it would resemble something more like a zig-zag pattern. Her worldy travels are one of her most treasured experiences. Drinking in the visual expression of different cultures in cities like New York, Milan, Istanbul, Paris, and Moscow fuel her eclectic style. Lisa, inspired by how all of these cities consist of side-by-side antiquity and modernism, shaped her unique ability for blending the look of vintage with retro, classic, and trendy.

Once again at age 35 she found herself back in the Midwest (Omaha, Nebraska this time) for love and eventually marriage. The birth of her son and one late night conversation with old friends about doing what you love spurred another career zag—YouthfulNest.

Ultimately, Lisa’s goal with YouthfulNest is to again be ahead of the curve, offering a virtual interior design process that is self-inspired, accessible, affordable, convenient, and rewarding for both the client and designer.

Find out more about Lisa and Youthful Nest:
Pinterest: youthfulnest


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