The Third Shift: Managing Hard Choices in Our Careers, Homes, and Lives as Women

The Third Shift: Managing Hard Choices in Our Careers, Homes, and Lives as Women

The Third Shift: Managing Hard Choices in Our Careers, Homes, and Lives as Women

The Third Shift: Managing Hard Choices in Our Careers, Homes, and Lives as Women


Thirty years after the feminist revolution, women have a wealth of opportunities their mothers never dreamed possible. But whether women opt for corporate careers, strike out on their own as entrepreneurs, or leave their jobs to pursue the "Mommy Track," their choices always come with a price. And often, after the first shift working at the office and the second shift working on the home, in those quiet hours of contemplation that Michele Bolton calls the third shift, even the most outwardly successful women are plagued by doubts about the decisions and trade-offs they've made. In this book, Bolton gives women techniques for turning the third shift from a time of guilt and self-doubt into an opportunity to build self-awareness and self-confidence. Bolton examines the three most important dilemmas women face: expressing your true identity or conforming to the expectations of others; focusing on the task at hand or worrying about the feelings of coworkers; working on your own goals or serving the needs of others. Then, using case studies drawn from her consulting work and a three-year study conducted with women in Silicon Valley, she conveys effective strategies real-life women have used to deal with these dilemmas in the corporate world, in an entrepreneurial environment, and in life at home and in the community. In each chapter, Bolton provides handy summaries of these strategies. She also captures the actual thoughts women have about each issue in a dialogue that contrasts self-awareness with self-doubt, so that women can begin to change their own internal dialogue into one of self-guidance, self-acceptance, and inner harmony. By identifying and analyzing the unique challenges women face, Bolton helps them make more effective decisions about their lives and attain personal satisfaction no matter which path they choose.


Oh dear, how hard it does seem to take up our packs and go on.


The idea for The Third Shift began the night our six-year-old daughter, Clare, was to spend her first overnight with her best friend, Yael. She was extremely excited and feeling so grown up. My husband of twenty-three years was also thrilled, especially after we arranged a last-minute overnight for Clare's nine-year-old brother, Evan; it looked like we'd have the house to ourselves for a cozy evening.

The bubble burst at ten o'clock that night when the phone rang. Yael's harried father was calling to explain that Clare had been sobbing for an hour and wanted to come home. She wanted to sleep in her own bed. And she wanted her Daddy.

I was devastated.

With that single, innocuous phone call, I was reminded that as a woman a continuous inner dialogue second-guesses whatever decisions and acts fill my days. A first shift at work and a “second . . .

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