Gina Fresquez is a self-described ambitious, high-achieving woman, and she always has been. She started her career in the corporate world, landing her dream position as an equine nutrition specialist with a well-known research and feed company straight out of grad school. She dedicated herself to her career, working nights and weekends, traveling on the regular and gaining weight from the stress of the constant grind despite working out and eating healthily.
Eventually, she burnt out. While Fresquez looked like she was killing it in her career, on the inside she was stressed, unhappy and overwhelmed.
“When we are totally kicking butt and achieving things, it doesn’t reflect how we feel inside,” Fresquez explains. “We’re telling ourselves we need to do more — it’s never enough.”
This same pattern would repeat itself once more until Fresquez established and implemented a work/life theory that put her more in balance with her own needs.
Prioritizing Health & Growth
In an effort to leave the stress of the corporate world -- though there were many other aspects of that world she enjoyed -- and serve people in a way that inspired her, Fresquez started a coaching business on the side. She built it slowly, step-by-step, until her business was ready to stand on its own two feet. She didn’t want to see others’ health suffering for the same, self-imposed reasons she did. She didn’t want to see their social lives die as hers had after rejecting so many invitations in the name of work.
So she figured out how to work and achieve in a healthier manner, and today teaches other women to do the same.
“My goals were no longer worth it to me if I had to sacrifice everything in the process,” says Fresquez. “You have to work towards goals in a way that feels good to you. Ask yourself, ‘Am I doing the things that are taking care of all areas of my life--not just work?’ Of course we want people to accelerate and get to goals sooner, but if you focus on how you feel now and how you’ll feel when you reach that goal, you’ll be able to take better care of your health in the process.”
Her own physical and mental health were a huge part of the impetus behind Fresquez building her own business in a progressive, steady way which allowed her to enjoy other aspects of her life. But another contributing factor was that she and her husband wanted to start a family in the next few years, and she knew she couldn’t be the mother she wanted to become if she was treading water with her health thanks to overwork.
When her son arrived three years into her business venture, she was still working part-time at the corporate job to supplement her own business income. The travel aspect of her position was no longer feasible.
“What changed for me was my priorities,” says Fresquez. “It was no longer an option to be slaving away at a job I didn’t like because it took me away from my son. I had to be really passionate about what I was doing and feel like I was good at it.”
Motherhood is work, too, and Fresquez recognizes that. The pressures to have everything just so are real, but you’d be surprised how much relief you can find if you simply let go of a little bit of that perfectionism.
“Give yourself some grace when fires need to be put out. It’s okay to give yourself an off day. A day to handle the fires. There’s so much pressure to go, go, go; be, be, be; do, do, do, that we don’t give ourselves the space to handle things.”
By zooming out and looking at the bigger picture, Fresquez says we can get a better perspective on what really matters and what is really worth throwing our energy behind as mothers.
Recognizing Fear as Your Friend
Underlying all of the stress and pressures of being a woman in today’s world is fear, according to Fresquez. In fact, you might be surprised at all the ways fear can manifest in your life. Fresquez holds up procrastination, laziness, people pleasing and keeping overly busy as prime examples of suppressed fear popping up in unexpected and unwelcome places.
“Behind the symptoms are fear of failure, fear of success, fear of never feeling like you’re enough,” she says. “But the goal isn’t to be fearless. Fear is a constant in our lives; we want to become friends with it. It wants to protect you from something. Your job is to recognize what that something is and morph that fear into love.”
As Fresquez continues on her own journey of slow and steady growth in her now full-time business, she implements the same concepts she teaches to her clients. Her next big goal is to make a bigger impact; reach more people. So she’s working to make it happen.
It started with her podcast, which will soon switch names but continue to host inspiring content from ambitious women. She is also booking more speaking gigs. She contributed a chapter to the recent tome Women Who Illuminate, and is going to start a corporate speaking program for women who feel stuck or feel like they don’t have a voice.
She has found the formula for contentment, and is working to get it out there in front of the world. At a slow and steady pace in order to prevent burnout, of course.