How I Thrive Working Late While Others Sleep

05/01/2015 12:00 am ET | Updated May 23, 2015

While you were sleeping, I was up at 4 a.m., getting ready for my 5:40 a.m. train that would deliver me to New York Penn Station at 8:45 a.m., an hour before a big pitch meeting. And I beamed with pride because I looked like I’d slept for nine hours the night before, and felt zero jitters after slamming a 5-hour Energy the moment my feet hit the bedroom floor.

In the midst of what feels like a self-care craze, I appreciate the “get more sleep” and “you can’t be everything to everyone” advice that so many successful women have shared. I agree. Of course, I’m a much better person when I’m well rested. And I wouldn’t be effective if I didn’t prioritize. Yet, like many professional women, I walk the very fine and precarious line of wearing fatigue as a status symbol and can be guilty of carrying my productivity as a metric for self-worth as if it were a coveted Birkin bag.

So why tax myself and welcome what some may feel is undue pressure? Frankly, I love what I’m doing. The Simon Sinek quote that has been floating around since his TED Talk on restoring the “human” in humanity so perfectly captures why I welcome a busy life in pursuit of my dreams: “Working hard for something we don’t care about is called stress,” Sinek says. “Working hard for something we love is called passion.” I am fortunate that I get to work in the dynamic, competitive, and fast-paced world of beauty and retail, identifying trends and thinking about new market opportunities, but doing so with the goal of helping women look and feel great while tackling their own complex lives. And as an advocate for women, I hope to one day do even more to empower girls and women on a broader scale.

This means I’m busy. And I love it. The truth is, I’m fueled more by what I love and by the goals that lie ahead. To me, that is part of having a life of well-being. It also means I have had to work hard to create time for myself to rest, reflect and recharge. When I need to clear my head, I take my dog for longer walks. I quiet my mind by reading before bed. I generally wear dresses to work to remove the decision-making process of pairing separates. And I try to manage my personal life the way an effective leader would approach guiding her team at work: only do the things that only you can uniquely do. Let others do the rest. So I have a house cleaner and I outsource my least favorite chore, doing laundry. Sometimes my dog goes to daycare. I make it work by not doing all of the work myself. I find that women have this tendency to want to do it all and to do it all perfectly. But I don’t need credit for how shiny my floors are or how perfectly pressed my dress might be.

I made the decision a long time ago that I would have a life and career with meaning, and that to the greatest extent possible, they would be integrated. That work would not be just a way to earn a living; rather, I see it all on my personal continuum. For me, the desire to do more, be more and contribute something meaningful to the world means embracing a few sleep-deprived nights when the output is a presentation on advancing women in business leadership or a speech to underserved teenage girls on why they should dream big.

As I approach 35, I reflect with gratitude on the series of hard-won lessons I’ve learned in building a fulfilling life and making it work on my own terms. I have learned that it is not about having “it all” -- it’s all about having what I want.

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