By Cali Williams Yost
Meredith Viera’s move to The Today Show
reinforces a powerful and important message. Strategically adjusting your work+life “fit” to support your unique realities actually helps your career in the long run. It allows you to continue doing work you love, while finding time and energy for your personal life. But it requires seeing beyond the “all or nothing,” and redefining success for yourself, so that you feel good about the “fit” you are pursuing—even if other people don’t understand it.
In 1991, award-winning journalist, Viera, shocked many by walking away from her prestigious position as a correspondent for 60 Minutes
. She was pregnant with her first child, and they weren’t willing to give her the flexibility she wanted. At the time, she was said to have remarked: “Once I realized I was a reporter who didn’t want to report because it required tremendous amount of travel, nobody was interested in having me work for them. I had to reinvent myself.”
Which she did by taking less demanding, and what some might consider less prestigious professional roles. She joined ABC in 1994 as a correspondent for a show called Turning Point
. In 1997, she started co-hosting the daytime talk show, The View
, and then she became the host of the game show, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire
. During this time, she apparently turned down other high-profile, hard to resist offers to host the CBS Early Show
, and Good Morning America
, because they didn’t fit into her personal reality—she was the mother of three young children whose husband had numerous health problems.
Ironically, her detour into less serious programming may have helped her take the lead in the race for The Today Show
slot. Some initial reports credit NBC sources as saying it was her combination of serious journalistic credibility and daytime talk show experience that put her in front of the pack of contenders.
When Meredith Viera becomes co-host of The Today Show
, her career will have come full-circle. Fifteen years after she shocked the world by walking away from 60 Minutes
to find a better “fit”, she will be back at the helm of a prestigious news program. Her choices didn’t hurt her career at all. They helped. It’s all in how you define it.
Her story reminds us all of some important work+life “fit” lessons:
• Redefine success for yourself so you can feel good about the fit you what to pursue.
• Allow yourself to pull over into the “slower” lane for a while if necessary, even though others may continue to pass you by in the fast lane.
• Remember that it’s a lot easier to pull back into the fast lane from the slower lane than from a stop at the side of the road.
• Understand that your work and personal realities will change many times over the course of your life and career, and adjust your “fit” accordingly. Cali Williams Yost is the author of the critically acclaimed book, Work+Life: Finding the Fit That’s Right for You . She is president and founder of Work+Life Fit, Inc.,  a company dedicated to empowering individuals to strategically manage the way work "fits" into their lives--because it's fit, not balance--and helping organizations create strong work+life fit partnerships with their employees. Cali and Work+Life have been featured in such publications as The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Fast Company, USA Today, Working Mother Magazine, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Boston Globe, The Chicago Tribune and The Seattle Times. Cali lives near New York City with her husband and two daughters.