We had the good fortune of connecting with Elle Houston and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Elle, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
When I first started in my career, I dedicated almost all waking hours to work. It was always my first priority. My first wakeup call was watching executives give up things like honeymoons so they could get back to the office quickly. I started to question if always prioritizing work was the right direction for me when I realized I was in an industry that didn’t support bigger, life cycle events. I had always assumed that one day I would be able to take a honeymoon and not be shamed for it. I decided to leave that industry, but moved into new roles that consumed almost all my waking hours. After a while I started to recognize that I wasn’t happy again. A career coach pointed out that no matter what job I was in, if I didn’t set my own boundaries, I would always be overworked. That was another eyeopener for me, as it involved needing the courage to not always be available.
An opportunity came up for me to apply for a job that wasn’t generally in my wheelhouse, but would provide me with more of a work-life balance. I initially hesitated. Taking something that was a little less exciting for the extra time outside of normal work hours was a new concept for me. While it would be another pivot in my career, I decided it was worth trying. Suddenly I had time, but I didn’t know how to fill it. I realized that I had spent so much of my life living for work, that I had lost track of my own interests. It led me on a journey of rediscovering what inspired me and made me happy, which included writing my first novel.
I now realize how important work-life balance is to me. I have thrived in finding time to pursue new challenges and learn new things. This has even helped shift the energy I bring to my day job. I am so glad I made the decision to make myself a priority in my life too.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
While also having a day job, I have been developing my own brand has a writer in my free time. I have used this opportunity to teach myself new professional skills like social media strategy, content creation and blogging. I am excited that I have been able to create a project where I can learn the new skills that I have been wanting to become proficient in and apply them to my own life. I’m creating my own portfolio and I look forward to seeing where that can take me in the future.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
There are so many wonderful things to do in LA, that’s what I love most about living here. A day in Pasadena visiting The Huntington Library and Gardens, followed by lunch at Pie’n Burger and topped off with a tour of the beautiful art collection at the Norton Simon Museum (possibly LA’s most underrated museum). I’d also recommend a day in downtown LA, visiting The Broad, seeing a performance at The Walt Disney Concert Hall or a show at the Ahmanson Theatre; capping off the day with dinner at Otium and drinks at 7 Grand or The Nomad hotel. Venice is also a lot of fun and unique to LA, beginning with a visit to Venice Beach, shopping on Abbot Kinney and enjoying a meal at The Tasting Kitchen or a casual burger at Adrift Burger Bar. Another fun idea is a beach day in Malibu. Start the day by picking up a picnic from Vintage Market and spending the morning at Zuma Beach, after lunch go wine tasting and wrap up the day with dinner at Nobu.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I have a deep appreciation for The Novel Factory. I discovered it when I first decided that I wanted to write, but didn’t know where to start. I finished my manuscript thanks to this self guided writing program. It started by asking for a one sentence description of my story and broke it out into bite size bits from there. It was amazing and I recommend it to anyone who has a story idea but doesn’t know how to flesh it out.