By Marie Renzi, Director at Amwell
Do you ever feel like you’re competing in a constant game of tug-of-war between the demands of work and home? If you answered yes — you are not alone. As a mother of three children 5 and under, and a director at a fast-moving company, I live this game every day.
Something that helps me is that I love what I do! I’m very fortunate that my role at Amwell allows me to focus on one of my passions — making it easier and more convenient for people to get the care they need. The value we provide to consumers keeps me motivated and energized. That said, like many other working moms, I’m not immune to stress, especially with the unique challenges brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. So to help others, I’ve compiled my thoughts about the value of finding your passion, navigating your new normal of working from home, dealing with stress, and how a mentor can help during these uncertain times.
Find your passion to unlock the joy in your work
When I first began working in telehealth six years ago, I immediately identified with the value it could provide to everyone. Having been a pre-med major in college, spending a lot of time at hospitals, doctor’s offices, and medical research environments, I instantly recognized the value of telehealth and how it could change healthcare delivery throughout the world.
Right now, telehealth is having a profound impact on managing COVID-19; helping consumers get the care they need from the comfort of home while social distancing parameters are in place. Playing a small part in the solution to flatten the curve is humbling and motivates me to help all Americans stay home and stay safe.
I find joy in my work because I’m passionate about telehealth. My job isn't something that I wake up and do for a paycheck. I feel in my heart that I'm leaving a mark on healthcare delivery and making it better. Every time I meet with a client or develop a new product or marketing program, I know that more people are going to be able to have better access to care. Less people will have to wait days to see a doctor. More people will be able to get quality care at an affordable price. And, most importantly, more people will feel better, faster. This is what truly matters.
I feel very lucky to have found my passion early in life. And with that passion, I have unlocked immense joy in the work I do every day.
My advice to other women is to explore what you enjoy and then continue learning and expanding your knowledge. Diving into your interests and understanding what really moves you will help you realize what you’re most passionate about. If you’re passionate about something, your job won’t feel like work — it’ll feel like you’re contributing to a greater mission.
Juggling work, family, and everything in between
I have struggled with work/life balance and tried many different strategies to get better at juggling the two. To be honest, I’ve found there is no simple answer! Balancing work with other priorities is just that — a balance. Some days, work will be more demanding and on other days, I’ll need to focus more on my family. When work is more demanding, I really lean on my husband. We are a great team — I call us “Team Renzi”. If I’m traveling or have a late client call, my husband steps up to take care of our three little girls. And vice versa; if he’s running late at work, I’ll make sure the kids get the attention they need. I know I wouldn’t be able to do what I do without his support.
Working remotely for me is second nature now, but it didn’t start out that way. I remember when I first shifted to working from home— it was so hard! I felt out of touch with other people on the team because I was the only person not in the office. I had to push myself to think outside the box to make the arrangement work. I’ve found having clear lines of communication with your management and the people you work with is key.
Building strong relationships is so important — you don’t want to just be a talking head on a computer screen. Take time to truly get to know people and make meaningful connections — you’ll have more fun at work and be able to understand different points of view.
A key fact when working from home is accessibility. If you work remotely and people have a hard time getting in touch with you, that can be very frustrating and diminish productivity. I give people my cell number and tell them that if they need anything they can call, text, message, email — you name it. I try to make it very easy for people to get in touch with me if they want to connect.
I also enjoy following a routine. Every day, even though I’m not commuting to an office, I wake up at the same time, take a shower, get dressed, and do my hair. This might sound silly since a major perk of working from home is not having to really “get ready for work”, but this simple routine helps me feel more prepared and ready to tackle the day.
How to not stress out about stress
Stress is a natural part of life and finding the best way to manage it is so important. No one wants to have a bad day of work and translate that into disconnected time with family or friends. For me, I’ve found the hardest thing when managing stress is literally turning off the constant list of “things” in my mind. Recently, I’ve tried to relax my mind through meditation. I’ve experimented with several free trials on different apps and I also listen to Deepak Chopra. I usually go to a quiet place in the house, sit down, and listen to guided meditation to calm my mind after a long day.
Sometimes, that means listening to a meditation series multiple times until I’m able to really unwind. If you’re trying meditation, try to be patient and give yourself time. It didn’t come naturally for me so don’t get hung up if it doesn’t “work” right off the bat. With so many things going on between work and your personal life, it can take time and practice to quiet your mind.
Finding a mentor and holding the keys to your own success
Having a mentor can be so important for your career growth and development. A mentor can help you better navigate complicated organizations, understand office dynamics, or even highlight potential blind spots you can improve.
I've had several mentors throughout my career and each one has been instrumental in my professional success. Each mentor originated from a natural relationship. It wasn’t a formal “mentorship program.” I mention this because you don’t have to wait for someone to formally say they are your mentor — sometimes it’ll just happen. I gravitated towards my mentors and they gravitated towards me — they saw potential in me and I saw something in their leadership style that I wanted to emulate.
I’ve also personally mentored several people and I’m always particularly vocal about the fact that navigating your career is much like driving a car — you hold the keys to your success and where you go in life.
If you don't like the path you're on, do something about it. If you’re not excited about the kind of work that you do, change it. Expose yourself to other areas of the business — build new relationships, network, and think outside of the box. Don’t expect your manager to drive your career growth. You control your career and make decisions that point you in a direction that you want to go — you're not powerless.
So, with that in mind, what do you want out of your career? What are you most passionate about? Take time to prioritize yourself, find your interests, and make small steps to create big change. Remember, you hold the keys to the car — so decide where you want to go!