Be Selfish About Giving Away Your Time - Vaishali Kasture
What does ‘work-life balance’ mean to a woman? Is it any different for a man? For a majority of Indian women, it trickles down to some personal time at the gym or the spa or if one is lucky, some leftover time to pursue a hobby. Or to simply survive through the day balancing responsibilities at work and home. In a day and age when we are talking of artificial intelligence, robotics, space travel, is it not ironic that we are still speaking of women as these magical creatures who just about manage to fulfill family obligations while handling a successful career. Is that enough? How entitled is a woman then to own some bit of her time – to pursue another dimension – only for herself? Is it even possible? It is!
As we look at initiating an exciting campaign in the ‘Tap Your Third Dimension’ series, on this International Women’s Day, we present edited excerpts of our interview with the dynamic Vaishali Kasture who shows us how it is possible to excel at all fronts. She is the first Indian woman to have completed all the six major world marathons. Vaishali, Co-founder of Sonder Connect, has over 25 years of banking and financial services expertise and was until very recently the MD and country head at Experian. Vaishali shares how running – her third dimension of fulfilment – made her more honest with herself and others and how important it is for women to invest time for themselves and gift themselves an added dimension!
Rome was not built in a day!
For a very long time, I focused on the half marathons and 10K runs because I wasn’t under any pressure to prove myself. It was only once I was comfortable with my fitness that I ran a full marathon. From there, I scaled back focusing on improving my speed and then I went on to run the 6 world major marathons. So, I did very consistent training for three to four years to finish that and again for the last one year I have scaled back again and yet again I am focusing on the 10K and half marathon runs. So, I understand where my body is at any point of time and accordingly, I don’t like to go overboard. I have done several ultras, the Cambridge marathons which is an ultra-marathon of 19K at least, across the two cities over Cambridge hill. I like to do a lot of variety but I also like to scale back regularly and you know get my body stronger before I take on the next challenge.
My Running Routine
It depends on what I am training for. I typically run for 3 to 4 days a week for maybe an hour or so, depending on whether I am doing an easy run or if it is an interval or a tempo run. Weekend running typically constitutes a 2.5 – 3 hour run on Sundays if I am training for a full marathon. Sometimes, when I’m down with the cold or am unwell, I try not to exercise because I want my body to recover faster. Those days, I really seem irritable and I don’t feel good about myself. So, for me running is a fundamental narrative of my life; I can’t go along without exercise.
What has honesty got to do with it? Lots!
When you go on a longer run typically, it makes you think about things that you wouldn’t otherwise. It makes you reflect back on life, and the most creative ideas that you get about work or about how you want to approach life, comes to you during running because that’s when you are actually doing nothing except focusing on yourself and your body. I think it made me more honest in my approach towards what I want in life and how I am going to live my life. When it comes to work, it made me more conscious about time management – how to get several things done, how to prioritize your time on the things which are important. It also made me an interesting person, I think when people google me, they figure out that I’m very passionate about running. Most of my conversations start with clients asking me about running, how to start running, how to get fitter or about nutrition. When you are an interesting person, people gravitate to you and chances of striking that business deal goes up!
Get help. Extend help.
On many occasions, I have seen women starting their running journey but only to quit it midway since they find it very overwhelming to stick with it. It gets very difficult to sustain any interest for that matter if you are managing multiple responsibilities, particularly if you have young kids at home and are working. Not having a domestic help or a supportive partner to share some of the household responsibilities can put the entire onus of keeping the house up and running solely on the woman. Though there are still some women who manage to handle everything and be good runners if not top-performing runners, I think a lot more encouragement and participation by people at home and even the running community can go a long way in seeing more women hit the road.
Holding your ground!
I believe every woman needs a well-balanced life and it is not about the sacrifices you are making constantly. You have got to ensure you are investing in yourself consistently. Women are naturally raised in this country to think about themselves at the end. Whether it is in context at home or a team setting or in a family, women put themselves as the last priority. And we need to change that. I am not saying it needs to happen every single time but certain times of the day. Allot some time either during early mornings or late at night only for yourself. You don’t need to have lofty goals like running a marathon. You don’t even need to say that ‘I’m going to do a workout for an hour every day’; even if you can start off with 20 minutes or 25 minutes and then slowly build up to even a 40-minute meaningful workout, complementing it with a healthy balanced diet, you can make a world of difference!
Be Selfish about giving away your time.
The way to manage is to be selfish about your time and I learnt this from Warren Buffet that you can find ways of earning money but you can’t get back the time spent. My mornings are about rising early at 5:30 am and getting my exercise done. I have a lot of help at home which I feel is important and allows me to get up and focus on myself for that one hour and then be available to the family. I try to organize everything a day earlier. I plan my entire week in advance. I typically don’t like last minute surprises for anything that needs to be done at home. I have a whiteboard in my kitchen and I employ some of the best practices at planning. My house help, my housekeeper, my cleaning lady, everybody knows what’s to be done a day in advance, maybe a week in advance so that you minimize communication and disruption during the week. The food planning is done, grocery is done, so there’s very little that I will have to spend in terms of my personal time on the mundane chores. I would rather spend that time for meaningful conversations with my child.