Welcome to THE BALANCE PROJECT: a series of relevant and refreshingly candid interviews featuring inspiring and accomplished women talking about balance. I’ve always been curious—and maybe a little obsessed—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 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.”

2015 marks the second full year of The Balance Project! And there’s lots in store: First, The Balance Project is celebrating its first birthday. Read all about how it got started and what I’ve learned from it here. Second, my second book, THE BALANCE PROJECT: A NOVEL, will be published in April. It’s women’s fiction and it was inspired by these interviews. More about that here. Third, in preparation for the launch and because these interviews have received such tremendous response, I will publish new interviews two or three times per week, not just on Fridays. Thank you for your continued support!

No. 51: Niketa Jhaveri, Game Creator and Web Designer

Where I live: Naperville, IL
Job: Founder and Co-CEO of Brave Champs
Kids: Two boys, ages 2 and 5

Niketa_ProfilePicture-CroppedIs the job you have now the same one you had before kids? If not, how and why did you change directions?
For 14 years I have been in the User Experience and Design field. I still am because you can never forget the artistic side of you. I now apply my UX skills in creating a product rather than a software on the computer screen. The only thing that changed for me after having kids was to manage my time more efficiently. I am still learning how to juggle between the roles of mom and entrepreneur better and do both with all my heart.

Do you think having “it all” is realistic or overrated and why?
It really depends upon your definition of “all.” First define on a piece of paper what “all” means to you and look around. Can you mark all the items in your list? Then yes, you can have it all. But be realistic with your list; don’t have an item like “ I want to be the richest person in America” OR “I want to be a perfect mother.” That would just leave you dissatisfied. In my “all” list, I have 1. Raise a healthy family 2. Strive each day in my business to be better than yesterday 3. Focus where I am spending time. When I look at this list, I can mark it to say “YES, I can have it all.”

What part of “balance” can you just not seem to figure out?
I am very uneasy if I don’t get it perfect, even if it is as small as making a birthday card or creating a special car out of Legos for my son. I have to have it perfect. And because of that, I lose track of time. So I am training myself to let go of things even if it is 90%. One day, I will get there!

What part of “balance” are you getting better at?
I am getting better at advance planning. Things don’t happen if you sit around and wait. You just have to be more proactive to make things happen. I have a huge scrum board in my home office. I learned about it from working in an agile environment (IT lingo) over the years, and that helps me focus and make advance plans whether it’s for family or my business. It helps me feel more in charge of my time.

What was the best advice you ever heard on balance…
From a mentor/co-worker? “Start saying NO!”
From your mother? “Create a to-do list and stick with it. Make sure you finish that by the end of the day.”
From your kids? “It’s ok that it’s not perfect mama… it’s perfect for me!”

What do you wish you’d known when you were 20?
To focus on what I wanted to do rather than listening to others say, “You can’t do that.” Well, I am still young and finally blocking all that negative talk, but I am all ears for pragmatic advice.

What do you hope to know by the time you’re 60?
That my needs also are priorities in my life.

What one part of your home life do you wish you could outsource?
Dishes and laundry! I cook a lot at home. From fresh breakfasts in the morning to three different meals for dinner: protein-rich for the kids, interesting meal for hubby, and low-carb salad for me. So you can imagine how many dishes I have by the end of the day. Thanks to my husband for helping me out, but we definitely need help there. Anyone out there looking for work? LOL

Whose job do you wish you had?
Professional organizer. It is so therapeutic to have everything in your house organized. I love how they are so perfect in everything they do, and at the end you get what you need in a few seconds like magic! I try and try to organize but at the end I lose patience.

Whose job are you glad you don’t have?
Anyone with repetitive tasks everyday. I am a creative and passionate human being. I thrive on creativity whether it’s my cooking or my designs. I can’t stand doing the same thing everyday!

Favorite books?
The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferris and Invent It, Sell It, Bank It! by Shark Tank’s Lori Greiner.

What are you reading right now?
Smart Parenting, Smarter Kids by David Walsh, Ph.D.

Biggest vices…
Activity? I love to dance—it brings the inner me out. I used to be a choreographer in years back but not so much anymore. I love to craft, too. It just makes me feel happy to make something out of paper and it’s tangible. My basement is filled with crazy craft supplies, which I may not finish using until I am retired. 
 Roadside Pav Bhaji (Indian cuisine).
Website? Pinterest, to get creative ideas.

How many hours do you generally sleep at night during the week?
I take 7 hours of beauty sleep. My brain won’t function without it.

What do you read every morning?
Chicago Tribune.

Complete the following sentences:
I think I: like the new me who is in more control of all aspects of life.
I wish: to take videos of my kids before they grow up right in front of our eyes.
My kids: and my husband are my three lifelines.

Do you have a personal motto or favorite saying?
“Try to play and have a chance at winning rather than be on the sideline and already be a loser.”

slide-2About Niketa:
Niketa is a mother of two boys and the Founder and Co-CEO of the educational board game Brave Champs. She is also an advisor for two new and upcoming IT platforms in 2015 and a User Experience Designer by heart. Niketa got her Masters in Human Computer Interaction with distinction from DePaul University in Chicago. Her mission is to educate kids through fun methods one kid at a time.

Find more about Niketa here:
Twitter: @bravechamps
Facebook: BraveChamps
Pinterest: BraveChamps

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