My Secret for Finding Work-Life Balance Has Nothing to Do With Achieving It— And That’s Why It Works

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Photo Courtesy of Zwift.

Photo Courtesy of Zwift.

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June 23, 2024 at 10:33AM UTC

Crystal Haggard is an e-commerce merchandiser at Zwift, a working mother and wife, an avid cyclist and an athlete ambassador for a number of brands. But despite her many commitments, she still maintains a healthy balance between her work and life. So, how does Haggard do it? She says she reminds herself of one simple thing: “If you don’t make the time, you won’t find it.”

“It’s a work in progress and all too easy to be knocked off balance,” she adds, challenging the idea that work-life balance is something to be achieved rather than maintained. She also says that Zwift’s work-hour flexibility is central to helping her juggle the balance.

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“I’m fortunate not to have to punch a clock, which allows me to be flexible with other areas of my life,” Haggard says. "This flexibility in my work schedule allows me to be present where and when I need it most.”

She recently chatted with Fairygodboss about how she maintains a balance between work and life and Zwift’s support in helping her “make the time.” She also shared her No. 1 piece of advice for other women who want to excel in their personal and professional lives.

Tell me a bit about your current role. What are your priorities?  

Zwift requires a bit of specialized equipment to start using and it can be a bit intimidating to new users to identify exactly what they need to start riding or running on our platform. As a department, the ecomm merchandising team is focused on smoothing the shopping and onboarding experience and fueling the love for the brand once a user is converted. 

My specific focus is to bring soft goods and apparel to life for our users. I get to help them celebrate being part of our incredible community, as well as the experiences and milestones they achieve using our platform. There’s also an element of brand awareness that we’re trying to drive with the products we’re creating and it’s a fun challenge to work with the brand and creative teams to find a commercially viable way to bring our brand to life. 

Paint a picture of a typical day for me. What’s the first thing you do when you wake up and the last thing you do before you go to sleep? 

I don’t have a typical day which is part of the way I find work-life balance. I’m fortunate not to have to punch a clock, which allows me to be flexible with other areas of my life. I have a long commute, even for LA standards, so I’ll often work from home for an hour or so until traffic eases up and then stay in the office into the evening to minimize car time. 

I have a husband, 7-year-old son and dog at home. Leaving work after rush hour means I miss dinner most nights, so instead we all wake up and do family breakfast together. Starting the morning with slowing down and making time for each other sets a great tone for the rest of the day and makes me feel relaxed and happy. When my husband is traveling for work about one week a month, I’ll leave the office at 4 p.m. to pick my son up from after school care by 6 p.m. After he goes to bed, I’ll work for a couple more hours if I need. This flexibility in my work schedule allows me to be present where and when I need it most. 

Photo of Haggard and her son, courtesy of Zwift.
Photo of Haggard and her son, courtesy of Zwift.

What does “balance” mean to you, and in what ways do you feel like you’ve achieved it?  

I think balance is a constant practice and not something you can ever fully achieve. I not only attempt to balance family and work, but also a pretty serious events calendar riding with a nonprofit cycling team called “Leave It On The Road.” We organize epic rides to raise awareness and funds for the fight against cancer. 

I’m an athlete ambassador for a handful of other cycling brands, including Specialized, SRAM and Rapha. With their support, I lead quarterly rides with the main goal of getting more women into cycling. I also volunteer with The Outride Foundation, an organization working to prove that cycling benefits your brain. This year, I’ll be teaming up with some local middle schools that have newly implemented Outride cycling programs to speak to kids and get them excited about the doors that bikes can open for them.  

It all sounds like a lot, but when looking through everything I’m working on, it’s clear there is a common thread of bicycles. I love staying busy and don’t enjoy turning off, so everything I have a hand in overlaps. This helps erase the feeling of work and creates an overall lifestyle that I feel energized by. Cycling has provided me with the most incredible opportunities and introduced me to the best people I know (including my husband). I get joy from building community and helping to provide others with opportunities to have new experiences.

Attaining work-life balance can’t be done solo. What people, resources, and tools do you rely on to get it all done?

My husband is incredibly instrumental in helping me feel balanced. He’s a commercial photographer and filmmaker and typically is traveling one week a month. Otherwise, most of his work is post-production from our home office. 

When he’s in town, he takes care of the grocery shopping, cooking, school drop off and pickup, and other chores, which provides me the ability to skew my office hours around rush hour, get some training in and lead weekend bike rides. When he’s out of town, I lean heavily on Instacart to make sure groceries are delivered while I’m stuck in traffic. We both race a lot of the same bike events and he also rides for “Leave It On The Road” with me. 

When we’re both traveling, we rely on his mom to come into town and take care of our son and dog. We also incorporate our son in a ton of our traveling and most of our training. On weekends, we’ll pull him behind us on a Tout Terrain Streamliner, which is a half-wheel bike that connects to the back of our bikes and allows him to pedal with us. It’s great family time, solid training and makes us all happy. 

What’s one misconception you think exists around work-life balance today?

A misconception I often hear is that work-life balance is something you can hold on to. Really, it’s a work in progress and all too easy to be knocked off balance. I recently went through a two-week period where I “couldn’t find time” to ride at all and found myself feeling depressed and unable to sleep at night. When I’m feeling like this, I remind myself: “If you don’t make the time, you won’t find it.” It’s like putting your oxygen mask on first; doing the things that bring you joy also bring you health, and you can’t take care of others if you aren’t taking care of yourself first. 

Let’s talk about your company’s culture. What’s your favorite aspect of it, and how does your employer aid you in achieving balance?

Zwift is an amazing company to work at. We do Wednesday Wellness group rides and runs, group yoga classes and lunch and learns, as well as really cool fitness benefits like earning a new bike and company-reimbursed race fees. This winter, I’m participating in a 24-hour MTB race with a team of four other co-workers, including our COO. Having not only the encouragement of the company to do this but the top-down example of taking time out of the office to participate in these types of events is really refreshing.

What’s something you think most people (perhaps even current employees) don’t know about your company that you think they should? 

Everyone I talk to thinks Zwift is still a small startup. When they find out we’re at 300+ employees, they’re shocked. Once I explain the complexities that bring Zwift to life, what we’re working on and some of the exciting things in our trajectory, it all makes sense. 

What’s the No. 1 piece of advice you would give to other women who want to excel professionally and personally?

If you don’t make the time, you won’t find it. Even if you can only carve out 30 minutes, take that time to do the things that fuel you and share that passion with those around you. This helps build company culture from within and gives permission to those around you to do the same. I know for myself, if I’m happier, I work much more efficiently. 

Also, build a network of other women inside and outside your company who you can lean on and don’t be afraid to speak up when you see something that needs to be changed. Chances are you’re not the only one. 


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