We had the good fortune of connecting with Nicole Lance and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Nicole, how has your work-life balance changed over time?
I think work/life balance is a lie.

I don’t like the word “balance” because it’s defined as “A condition in which elements are equal to or in the correct proportions; an even distribution of weight causing something or someone to stay upright.” The utilization of the phrase “in the correct proportions” is problematic because it inherently implies you can do it WRONG! Also, thinking of work and life and trying to achieve any sort of evenness or equal proportion doesn’t take into account, well…reality. I mean, at what point in your life EVER have you truly had these actually equal in terms of hours, energy, effort, etc? And lastly, the phrasing that implies balance is the thing that keeps someone upright is absurd to me. I could have balance between the two and still be face first in the dirt because I’m not taking into account all the other things that truly bring me happiness and help me live authentically.

I much prefer to think of work/life balance in terms of integration. How am I actually integrating these two throughout my days/weeks/months/years? Many years ago I read an article that talked about the “seasonality” of work and life and how each will ebb and flow over time. That brought a huge sense of relief because I no longer felt like I was failing on the days when one or the other took precedence.

The biggest change I’ve seen is in responding more proactively when those scales start to tip. I’ve long been the “Queen of Powering Through” when times got tough at work or at home. I’d tell myself I just needed to get up a little earlier, stay a little later, work a little harder… Now when life requires more, I intentionally ask myself where I can step back from work or find some ease in other areas of my life to allow me to have some more room (or just more head or emotional space!) to deal with what life’s throwing at me. Similarly, when work is in an upswing and needs more time, energy, attention, or focus, I’m much more attuned to this and willing to ask for help in other areas or create the space I need to focus more on work.

The key to both of those is to drop the guilt, though! I do this by reframing my focus from what I’m saying “no” to (a project, a deadline, a soccer match, a dinner at home) and instead turn my attention to what I’ve said yes to. That helps alleviate the guilt of what I’m not able to do and reminds me of the importance of what I’m doing. It’s also a hella good filter to make sure you’re really putting energy and effort where it’s of highest-value for you.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My work is a blend of life coaching and executive coaching that’s best described as “Coaching for Courageous Transformation”. I like to say I blend a little bit of woo with a whole lot of do. I emphasize practical and implementable strategies for my clients to help them really build the types of lives and careers they want. It’s not just a bunch of talking, it’s about actively and intentionally taking steps to get where they want to go and move past whatever is preventing them from getting there.

It’s been a journey- I started out in nonprofit work and then spent almost a decade and a half in local government. Courageously transforming my own mindset was the first and most important step. Doing the self-work was critical before I could create a space to serve others that way, and I still work on that every day! Two specific actions were the most important in my transformation: meditation and hiring my own coach.

I’d always written off meditation as a transformative practice – I’d hear about it and think “Yeah, yeah, yeah, I’m sure that works for other people, but not for me! I’m BUSY. I’ve got too much going on! Just thinking about things won’t help me- I’ve got to focus on action!” And then I hit a point in my life where meditation became a challenge. I felt a soul-deep call to find some stillness and to listen more than I was talking or doing. It felt awful at first- I couldn’t sit still, I couldn’t chill out the thoughts running through my head. I challenged myself to 5 minutes a day for one week, and that was enough to tip the scales. I loved how my heart didn’t race as much after, and I started to cue in to some thoughts and emotional triggers that were tripping me up in other areas.

Hiring my own coach was a pivotal point as well- highly capable, intelligent people who are givers and spend their time caring for others often overlook the importance of this because we are so darn good at doing it for other people. However, as soon as I decided to make the investment in myself, I was blown away by the progress I was able to make. I hired a great coach who called me on my BS when I needed it and supported the hell out of me when I needed it. Having someone else focus on your development creates a space for self-reflection that I’ve not found anywhere else.

The most important lessons I’ve learned along the way are to Be Intentional and Be Courageously Authentic. A long time ago I learned the phrase, “Hope is not a method.” That’s where my core philosophy of being intentional comes from. If I want to make progress, feel differently, or be different, I need to be intentional about it. It doesn’t mean it has to be a grind or that it’s full of self-sacrifice (though there may be some elements of that at certain points in the journey!), but it DOES mean I need to be intentional, not incidental, in my actions and creating an environment for those things I want to become reality. Being courageously authentic was a hard-won lesson but has transformed my life. I spent a lot of years worried about what other people want and trying to please everyone and win all the words and fulfill all the “shoulds”. That left me moderately successful and also moderately unhappy. When I act from a place of true and courageous authenticity, life may not be perfect, but it is aligned with what’s in my heart and I’m saying yes to my yeses and no to my nos in a way that reflects that.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
What a fun question! As an Arizona native, I love this state, and Phoenix specifically has a lot to offer. Some of my favorites include: -The Heard Museum & Phoenix Art Museum
-Hiking at South Mountain
-Visiting the Desert Botanical Garden
-Beer breakfast at Hillside Spot in Ahwatukee
-Kayaking at Saguaro Lake (ok, so it’s sort of “Phoenix-adjacent”!)
-Live music – used to be at Char’s Has the Blues, now hoping for successful reopening of The Rhythm Room
-Greenwood Brewing & Arizona Wilderness Brewing
-Spring Training games!

Outside of Phoenix, my husband and I love to explore and frequently spend the weekends offroading all over the state. We especially love exploring the White Mountains and getting some fresh air in Pinetop. I was born and raised in Lake Havasu City, so a trip home to visit the London Bridge and get in some river time is always a blast, too! I do have to say I have a soft spot in my heart for Bisbee and its eclectic energy, and the Verde River area (and wineries!) near Cottonwood and Clarkdale never disappoint, either!

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
This Shoutout is dedicated to two people: 1) My amazing Online Business Manager – aka my “OBM-Kenobi”, Jen Lawrence. Jen is a Productivity Coach & Systems Expert who has transformed my business and thereby my life. Her strategies have created immense capacity for me!

2) Sarah Bamford Seidelmann, life coach, shamanic healer, and author of “Swimming With Elephants”. Her book lit a fire in my soul that has led to my own courageous transformation, and her coaching and mentorship has been invaluable.

Website: nicolelancestrategies.com

Instagram: nicolelancestrategies

Linkedin: Nicole Dailey Lance

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCXVfZLGPMnn2VPZJhyzS_og

Image Credits
Nonni Lee Photography

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutArizona is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.