Dr. Elizabeth Stroot, PT is the Founder and CEO of a Boutique physical therapy practice and an international executive coaching company. She combines her 15 years of entrepreneurial experience with collaborative coaching to help women define and pursue their unique purpose-filled lives. As a wife, mother of two, and step-mother of three, she walks the walk of being family-focused, while creating space for her personal and professional aspirations. She believes that by empowering women to lean into the various seasons of their lives, teaching them how to productively re-assess, and shift focus we can collectively clarify what it means for a woman to “have it all”, and how to make it happen.
In this insightful interview, Dr. Elizabeth Stroot, PT, shares her experiences and strategies for balancing a demanding career with family and personal relationships. She discusses the difficult choices she had to make when owning her own business, highlighting the importance of setting boundaries and reassessing priorities as life's seasons change.
Have you ever had to make difficult choices between your career and your family or personal relationships? How did you handle that situation?
Absolutely. When you own and operate your own business, all hours are business hours. Before having children, I happily would take emails, texts, and calls from patients most of the day. I would add hours when needed and was just frankly, too available. After feeling how that impacted my ability to be present with my now husband, and his children, I knew I needed to do some reflecting. I chose to not work on Fridays in the clinic. That made me available for long weekends and more family time. Fast forward 13 years, now with a two and four-year-old, and my time is my most sacred commodity. I protect it fiercely so that when I'm with my family, I'm with my family, when at the clinic, I'm fully engaged with my patients, on a Zoom with a client-I'm laster focused. Setting boundaries, and parameters helped me define when the best times for work, play, self-care, and family time were. Practice makes perfect, and taking the time to re-assess as the “seasons of life” change is always wise.
How do you manage to maintain strong relationships with your family and friends despite a busy work schedule?
Leaning into technology is the best advice I can give to busy female entrepreneurs. I routinely use text, WhatsApp, MarcoPolo, Zoom, and FaceTime with friends, family, and clients alike. I prefer the opportunity to see someone's face when hearing about what is going on with them, to make a better connection, a more meaningful moment between us. MarcoPolo has to be my favorite since it allows me to message people when it's convenient for me, and they can do the same.
What are some strategies you use to prioritize self-care and ensure that you are taking care of your own needs while also caring for others?
"Fail to plan, plan to fail," is a routinely used saying because it's true. I believe we do and practice what is meaningful for us, and if we don't…then perhaps it's not a priority right now. After my father passed away from COVID in 2020, and I had my second child, I had a new sense of the importance of self-care and health. I committed to working out four times per week. I scheduled it on my phone and reminded myself to plan for it when outlining my day ahead. Weight training is my favorite way to exercise, I jump in a cold plunge most days, I get a massage once a month, and I always say my prayers before going to sleep.
Have you ever experienced judgment or criticism from others for prioritizing your career or personal goals over your family or personal relationships? How did you handle it?
Being an entrepreneur can be isolating. Being a female entrepreneur is even more isolating given the addition of family responsibilities. I think sharing your gift with others is a responsibility to humanity, it should be encouraged and celebrated. I think people make assumptions that if you're successful you must sacrifice your family time/needs, however, I would argue that it has afforded me the time and energy to be present far more than I would have been able to if I worked for someone else. Opinions of others used to bother me. But I realized some people simply don't understand my purpose and passions, and if they were genuinely interested, they would make an effort. Thankfully my family sees and feels how present I am- cooking, drop-off and pick-up, play at the end of the day, songs at night…all the special moments are my priority.
How can women leaders and influencers set an example for healthy relationship management in their personal and professional lives?
Absolutely. Getting clear about what you need, what you want, and how those impact those around you is important. From there, you can set firm boundaries to protect time dedicated to each area of your life, or at least have a loose idea of it. For example, with small children prioritizing date night to fortify my connection with my husband is a must. I've planned a “Summer Concert Series” of four shows we will see together. A simple date night works great too! If you aren’t giving as much energy and enthusiasm to your relationship as you are your career-there is an imbalance and it's time to make some changes. It doesn't have to be minute for minute, but it should be meaningful, impactful, and important to sustain connection, open communication, and foster intimacy.
What advice would you give to women who are considering starting a family while also pursuing a demanding career?
The reality is that there is a finite amount of time that we can have children biologically. So delaying it without any barometer is unwise and could lead to unnecessary stress and regret. So, plan and prioritize the long game, not just what is important in this moment. I thought I would be able to do everything I was already doing when I had my first child. I was crushing it, after all, so why not just put her in a baby carrier and keep that train moving full steam ahead? Because you just can't. You can't help but slow down and be more present with your families, or at least you should. Changing your expectations to reflect a balance of different priorities is necessary, and is what makes it possible for you to “have it all”. Plan for the present, plan for the future, and ask for help!
How can women manage the stress and emotional toll of balancing multiple roles and responsibilities within their personal and professional lives?
There are days that having multiple roles and responsibilities are overwhelming, there are other days where it can make you feel like an absolute badass. To manage the stress that comes, it's critical to prioritize self-care ( exercise, sleep, water, sunshine, and nutrient-dense food). Asking for help is oftentimes the hardest thing for women who are used to getting it done ( and doing it well!). So leaning on others to help with tasks, asking for support, and being open to receiving it is a great place to start.