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Staff Development Conference Reveals the Truth About Work-Life Balance

November 2023
  • Maria Milagros (center in green) with QCC employees at the Staff Development Conference
    Maria Milagros (center in green) with QCC employees at the Staff Development Conference

October's Staff Development Conference kicked off with Maria Milagros (Vazquez), an award winning keynote speaker, author, two-time TEDx speaker, storyteller, personal growth expert and empowerment life coach. Milagros gave an energizing presentation that focused on her belief about work-life balance: it doesn't exist. 

"The thing about a full-time job is that you spend most of your time getting ready for, going to, being at, and detoxing from that job. So you won't find balance, but you have a choice to create harmony," Milagros said.

At the beginning of the presentation, Milagros reviewed QCC's mission statement, noting that it's important to remember why we are here in the first place, because when we get disconnected from the why, we lose track of the how.

Milagros told the story of her journey through abuse, a major accident that permanently altered her body, and even homelessness, to becoming the person she is today. 

"Higher education changed my life. I put myself through college and I was the first person in my family to go," she said, adding that this inspired her older uncle to enroll in college as well. "Our greatest teaching tool is our living example."

The presentation offered tangible steps to making choices that work towards the work-life harmony. One technique that she described was a science-based mindset shift. Milagros noted that the part of our brain that decides what to focus on, the reticular activating system, can be trained to pay attention to certain things. She described that experience of buying a new car and you suddenly start seeing the car everywhere you go. It's not that there's more cars around, it's that your brain is noticing them now. This concept can be applied to what you focus on throughout the workday. 

"You brain finds the evidence to support a belief. So if you go into work thinking, 'Worst day ever,' it will be the worst day ever," Milagros said. But if you set your focus on the positive before the day, your brain will find the positives. 

Another idea that Milagros suggested was finding a sense of joy in all of life's situations. She recalled that when her family was homeless, her mother and siblings had to sneak into empty apartments and it turned into a game of being quiet so they wouldn't get caught. Her family actually remembers this time as one of their fun periods of life. She said this experience also influenced her gratitude practice that is now a daily routine. According to some studies, practicing gratitude can decrease feelings of depression.

Milagros stressed that it's crucial to live intentionally. This involves identifying your priorities and values, as well as your desires and dreams. Then, every day you check in with yourself to make sure your actions are aligning with those priorities. This will help you stop giving your power to other people and make better and faster decisions.

"Your time and your energy are your most valuable assets and you have a choice," she added.

For more information on Maria Milagros, visit