We had the good fortune of connecting with Julie Rich Hilton and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Julie, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
My work-life balance, even as a mental health professional, hasn’t always felt balanced at all. I graduated from undergrad at 20 and grad school by 23- all while working full time in an attempt to keep myself out of student loan debt. I immediately started pursuing my clinical license, additional certifications, working multiple jobs, etc. Somewhere along the way, I had fully bought into the crazy rat race of life and the idea that “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” and “the grind never stops.” I was totally burned out and didn’t even know it. Then I suddenly moved out of state and, for the first time since I was 16, I couldn’t find a job. I was unemployed for about 7 months and I hit a rock bottom with my mental health that I had never known before. I quickly realized that too much of my Self-Worth and identity had been tied to how hard I was working, what I was achieving, and where my career was headed. I had to take a serious look at how to untangle my worth from my work. After doing some much needed internal work (with a therapist), I began to redefine what drives my Self-Worth, what brings me happiness, and how to live more in the moment. I realized my perfectionist tendencies constantly drove me to work harder (not always necessarily smarter) because overworking myself felt like my way of proving I was “good enough.” It has not been an easy journey and doesn’t always feel resolved, but I have much better awareness of when my life is off balance based on my anxiety levels about work/my performance and where I am looking for validation. When I start to notice that work is becoming too intrusive, I’m better able to recenter myself and quicker to make (often tough) decisions that get me back on track with what is truly important to me. How do I think about the balance? I think society tells us having balance is selfish or maybe lazy or, at minimum, isn’t feasible. I think most companies want employees to be scared to ask for balance. I think for many folks it doesn’t feel like balance is even an option. And I think every single person reading this should reject that idea. My personal growth has empowered me to turn down several 9-5 jobs that I didn’t feel would allow me to have the work-life balance I need. It wasn’t part of their work culture and I wasn’t signing up for that again. Balance has helped me to be more confident in saying “no” when I need to, without guilt or FOMO on opportunity. It has helped me advocate for myself, my family, and my mental health. In fact, it’s even pushed me in new ways to make different (more balanced) goals for myself that have paid off fantastically for my career! Yes, it can be scary, intimidating, and seem impossible, but I think this is one thing that you can’t afford not to figure out. And if I can offer one piece of advice- don’t try to do it alone. There are people that can help you navigate this- and you deserve it!
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
Empowering Women. That’s my brand, my business, my passion. I am the owner of Empower Counseling & Consulting of Atlanta and my mission is to empower women to shed the pressures and expectations of the world and find peace in the identity God intended. I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Certified Clinical Trauma Specialist, providing individual psychotherapy to those who are living with anxiety, depression, complex trauma, or those who just feel stuck and unhappy. I have the best job in the world! I help women go from feeling unfulfilled and watching life pass them by, to fully knowing their worth and finding inner happiness they always dreamed of. Together, we release painful things from the past, and we re-write their story so that they are in control of their future. Building confidence, a new sense of self love, and undoubtedly knowing their worth.
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.
I’m totally the friend who loves good food and fun experiences! When friends come to visit, I usually avoid the touristy things, and take them to my personal faves. I always vote for a hike up Stone Mountain- my absolute favorite view of the city. And we are hiking it- not taking the cable car! It’s so much more rewarding when you sweat for it! The Civil Rights Museum is also a favorite and I highly encourage people to spend time there when in Atlanta. Now, more than ever, people need to be seeking ways to be Anti-Racist and I think this museum is important for that. Of course, I still have to do the cliche Ponce City Market Tour (because it’s still a favorite of mine)! I’m always down for Top Golf too! I always prefer hole-in-the-wall types of restaurants and Atlanta is loaded with spectacular cuisine. Classics like Mary Mac’s Tea Room and Ray’s on the River. I usually insist on introducing Korean BBQ, so we end up on Buford Hwy at some point. If there’s enough time, I love going up to Helen or somewhere in North Georgia for a day. A good hike and/or a winery is always beautiful any time of year.- even if it’s just to Chateau Elan.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
There are so many people who have helped me along the way- my husband, kids, family, etc. But above all, I have to shoutout my girlfriends. The ones who have been around for the past decade+ and have seen my lowest and supported me regardless. The ones who shared my struggles, my fears, and my victories every step of the way. Women empowering women- these relationships are powerful and the backbone of what holds me together. Without their support, encouragement, and the occasional push, I wouldn’t be the business owner and professional that I am today.
Other: Psychology Today: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapists/julie-rich-hilton-alpharetta-ga/441968