Aditi Sheoran Chhatja is the founder of Carpe Diem Learning, a people mastery firm aiming to create mindful leaders. This enigmatic professional wears many hats and aces each of them, she is a certified Leadership Coach, Behavioural Facilitator, NLP Practitioner, as well as an internationally certified Sivananda Yoga teacher and writer. Aditi had a successful corporate life, before the birth of her lovely daughter Dia. But as they say, motherhood changes the game, and it was the same for this mother too. She consciously took an extended maternity motherhood career break which is often seen as career suicide for many women. Women especially mothers always seem to have to walk the tight rope between family and their work. During this break, Aditi Sheoran took every challenge in her stride and turned things around for the better. She embraced Yoga, mindfulness, and other holistic practices to empower and uplift herself in all facets of her life. Now she is sharing her stories and learning and helping to empower others through her unique venture Carpe Diem Learning. The Voice of Woman presents the story of the lady who sees the world through the imaginative eyes of her 5-years old daughter or upside when doing a headstand. Read ahead to know exclusive insights on coping through motherhood challenges, finding your calling, successfully clearing job interviews and creating an inclusive work environment, and finally ways to incorporate quick breathing techniques to cope through a stressful day. 1. You had a more than a decade long successful career; you took a hiatus from work ‘motherhood-career break’. Can you please tell us why you decided on this path? I went back to work seamlessly after my maternity leave ended, thanks to a supportive family, and a very understanding and flexible boss that I had back then. It is when things got a little rushed up over time that it felt right for me at that moment, to take more time out to chart my way forward. I was anyway looking for aligning my career aspirations & my new responsibilities and needs as a mother consciously. I was ready to take the risk of a pause to do this. Everyone needs a transformative event and for me, maybe it was motherhood that drove clarity on what I was all about and what I wanted to do exactly. I pursued each of the three directions: people development, yoga and writing during this phase. Now, these three merge beautifully into my start-up, a people mastery firm called Carpé Diem Learning. For some, the maternity leave is enough, which is great! In fact, I myself may or may not take a break if this were to happen again, as now, I am doing exactly what I was meant for. But this way or that, alignment is very important, especially after having a baby, to synergize one’s life and career and make things more interesting, fun, challenging & meaningful all at once. A woman’s brain anyway gets rewired through the process of becoming a mom, so it is best to spend time on aiding and acing the process, isn’t it? 2. Motherhood brings its share of joy but also certain challenges, which can be overwhelming for a new mother- can you share a few tips to survive this phase. As I said earlier, the first step is to get clear about what you want, who you are and how you want to raise your child. Secondly, this is not the time to give up, but to push forward in a way that you lean in not just to your career but also to yourself, your inner world and your new role as a parent. It’s a ‘holistic leaning’ that’s required, leading to holistic learning and growth, be it physically, spiritually or professionally. Thirdly it’s surely a very challenging phase, a boot-camp so to say, so get all the support you can, instead of trying, to do it all and stressing unduly. In the process, your self-worth will shoot the roof, as would gratitude and the appreciation for the value of family. Finally, be yourself, get real rather than following the herd, this was my main mantra. For me, in the initial stage, being physically present for my child, getting fit, learning & growing as an individual and professional was a bigger priority than reclaiming my seat in the office cubicle. I wanted time away from my child to be spent on these things. Once this department got sorted, I saw myself being a happier mom too. The next goal for me was to build my profile in my area of work, start out independently as a facilitator and coach. This, along with yoga turned out to be a journey of self-discovery and self-development for me, something that I now help others do as well; find their calling and rock at it! 3. Yoga plays a very important role in your life- how has yoga able to transform you- physically but also at a psychological level? I have been practicing Yoga since 2010, but stepping into motherhood made me realize the importance of good health and how it links to being a better, more productive and happier person. Yoga helped my physically, in fact so did running. These activities helped my internal and external world align slowly. As a result, mindfulness and personal satisfaction started trickling in. Now Yoga and mindfulness is a part of my professional work as a lifestyle, writer, yoga teacher and personal development coach. 4. Mothers are always hard-pressed for time; please share a few quick yoga/breathing techniques that they can do on the go? Practicing deep breathing and chanting om for 15 minutes daily itself is enough Yoga to keep you happy healthy and energized throughout the dayKapalbhati is very effective for activating the core and reducing belly fat, as are planks (dand asana) & leg raise exercises. Most of the slow yoga flows work on the core and regulate breathing too.10 minutes of daily meditation; a little silent me-time in the morning works wonders. Micro-workouts done daily produce amazing results.Group classes are recommended as you tend to derive a lot of energy, motivation and direction towards your practice in group settings. Being a part of a community really helps one move forward in the practice better and faster. 5. As a Behavioural Change Facilitator, what do you want to tell working mothers who often suffer from the dilemma of choosing work over their children? Here are a couple of pointers: Strong family support is the best gift for a working mother. Align your internal and external worlds. Write down your goals, plan ahead and don’t fear the pause or downtime. Follow your gut. Let your actions come out of a space of abundance and love rather than fear or lack of it. That’s the challenge to lean in to. Face yourself this once and be happy for life. Do something you love and are good at, thereby increasing your personal satisfaction and impact, rather than sticking to something lesser for fear of losing your worth. The question of ‘child vs work’ comes when either proper support is lacking or you are missing meaning in one or both of these roles when you aren’t fully motivated or clear about why you are doing what you are doing. An ambitious and motivated person who is fully present, as a mother and as a professional, because she knows the value she brings to the table and the value she derives from both these roles. So make yourself unstuck and plug yourself into the game that works for you. Everything doesn’t need to happen at once. Just trust the process and let your intuition guide you forward. Support is key and then comes personal clarity. Focusing on health is imperative for everyone, more so for a multitasking working mom. Yoga or any sport that reenergizes your mind body and soul fits in. After all, you are a source of energy for a growing being and yourself through this transformation phase, your family and your workspace, so you have to focus on self-care and make yourself strong enough to embrace all of it. 6. A career break is often seen as a hindrance in future job interviews- what do you have to say regarding this? If you take a conscious break then you know roughly how long a down-time you need to rejuvenate and thereafter, the key areas you want to learn and grow around during the time ahead. It is very important to use the break wisely whether you plan to return back to a job or change your career field. You could pick up courses that take you forward in your field of interest, helping you build a niche. It is also great to always stay connected with your network for projects you can manage at a suitable pace. You can explore your personal and work affiliated interests and see which ones you can build on further. Moreover, your confidence in an interview is as good as the words you tell yourself and speak to others about yourself. These conversations manifest in what you do, say and become. So take a break if you will, but keep your mind fruitfully engaged. An active mind remains sharp. Add a sprinkle each of clarity, self-drive & passion to this and you are sure to stand out in a crowd of applicants. 7. Can you please tell us more about your venture Carpe Diem Learning? At Carpé Diem Learning, we work on enabling mind-shifts for teams and individuals, geared towards transformation and outstanding results. We do this through immersive development journeys that include blended learning solutions & coaching engagements. We cater to 3 outcomes primarily: Talent & Organizational DevelopmentMindful Leadership & LivingWomen Career Advancement 8. Women are often thought to lack leadership skill because they are presumed to be the more compassionate and sensitive gender, your thoughts? This is so bizarre because according to studies done on leadership qualities, women leaders fare higher on more than 80% of the leadership competencies. Check this out The problem is with two things, deep-rooted gender stereotypes showing up in career decisions and the fact that the world of work globally is male-dominated, even today. This makes women do one of two things: either emulate masculine leadership traits in order to go ahead and be accepted while underplaying their unique feminine strengths as leaders or simply suit the comfort and conform to so-called ‘female-centric’ careers. I think both these options reduce the opportunity for one to explore one’s fullest potential. It is time to shift the gender dynamics for everyone’s good rather than glorifying the role of women in the household, as the more giving and compassionate gender. Instead, why not use this very important trait of theirs on company boards so that wiser, more-balanced and humane business decisions are made. After all, the majority of the buying decisions are made by women in households, as per studies. Personally, I feel, both men and women share both types of traits. Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela are great examples of compassionate male leaders while the Iron lady i.e. Margaret Thatcher, was an unconventional tough female leader of the previous century. It’s all about what individuals, families, organizations and societies nurture. Both genders bring complementary competencies to the table and both are required. Both need to work collectively to bridge the gender pay gap. Moreover, equal opportunity is required so businesses and families can benefit from all the working talent available in this world. Gender diversity is not just lucrative for organizational cultures but also beneficial for families, societies and the future generation. Basically, men and women need to embrace holistic leadership styles, while also playing to their unique strengths. 9. How can company policies be formulated to make workplaces more adaptive especially for women? I would say, why make policies adaptive only for women? Why not just make policies adaptive for all, so that even men can take sabbaticals without stigma if they so please, participate equally in their household and come back as more understanding managers too? The solution lies in taking forward this movement of women empowerment together as a society. Policies play an important role and must be adaptive for all so that we progress at work as well as in our homes. Neither environments can be ignored. We need to ensure that while striving for success, we are paying adequate attention to bringing up a generation that sees a healthy merging of gender roles. Policies can’t be seen as tools to accelerate a uni-dimensional fight of seeing more women at work at any cost. Policies should rather focus on letting true partnerships emerge at work and in households. 10. Please share a message for our viewers through the Voice of Woman Every parent’s story is different and important. Everyone’s career is their unique path to chart. There is no one size fits all here, so just do whatever makes you a better person first and then a man, woman, mother, father, or professional.