So many women try to be superwoman. Everything to everyone. Efficient. Intentional. Fabulous.
Earlier this year, I did too. The pace of my life was not sustainable – and I was going crazy. I was well aware that my energy, time and “the best version of me” was not being given to the people in my life whom I loved the most. I knew that starting a business, working full time, being a wife, a volunteer, daughter, mentor and mother of 2 teenage girls was too much for anyone – so why did I think I could do it? Did I want to prove something? Did I want acknowledgement? Or was I simply just trying to do my best and pursue my passions? I was at risk of doing lots of good things but I felt like I was doing nothing really well. Something had to give. But how to choose what and when was the tricky part.
Let’s face it: most of us lead busy lives. Most of us have multiple roles and responsibilities to get done every single day. Some we love, others we would rather not have to do, some we are good at and others need more effort to even be reasonably good enough. Women are generally multi-faceted individuals and thank goodness for that, as life could be pretty dull if we only had one role to fulfill!
So, after acknowledging that I was at breaking point, I sat down and wrote a list of my values. Those things I hold most highly in life and want to give my best to. I then had to try and restructure my life to ensure that those values that I listed first were not getting pushed down my to-do list. The higher the value, the higher priority the role got in my schedule. Instantly I could see some areas in my life which could go or be reduced, but acknowledgement was not the same as application. So here is the hard bit – for a few weeks, I had to be disciplined enough to prepare an hour by hour schedule for my whole day. I know, it sounds ridiculous doesn’t it? Some of you would rather stab yourself in the eyeball than do this. But for me, it was about seeing (in advance) that there was enough time in my crazy day and that the people/tasks/roles that I valued the most got structured in first, and the rest had to be slotted in around them. It was all about having healthy boundaries and compartmentalising my life for a season.
So, when messages started coming through for Lumi and I was in my “family time” section of the day, I ignored them and knew that later that day there was time structured for Lumi work. I told Niina and Catherine that unless something requires my immediate attention, be assured that your message will be answered. We set up a “rule” that all Lumi text messages needed to be answered within the same day, emails had to be answered within 24 hours. If that was not acceptable, it would require a phone call. It sounds rigid – and obviously there are times when there are exceptions to the rule – but it is working really well for us as Directors, who wear multiple hats and in the startup environment.
You will be pleased to know that I don’t need to do that hour by hour scheduling any more (Phew!). After a while I regained confidence in my time management ability and as we know, the more times we do something over and over again, it eventually becomes a habit. I wasn’t perfect at sticking to my schedule but the purpose wasn’t to make me perfect, it was to help me live in the now, enjoy the moment and have faith that there was enough time to do what was important – not EVERYTHING – but what is important to me. This will look very different to each one of us.
Want more ideas on how to have your ‘balance’? Try to:
- Accept that you can’t be all things to all people and be okay with that. Choose who it is you want to be important to and plan from there. “No” is not a swear word.
- Be thankful. It is easy to be overwhelmed with the busyness of life, however choosing to be thankful for the busyness of your life can have the opposite effect to feeling overwhelmed. Start a thankfulness Journal, photo album, notes page on your phone and reverse those feelings. Your brain is an extremely powerful organ – use it!
- Tell someone what you are trying to do, where you are trying to create balance or have tighter boundaries with. That way you have someone who can keep you accountable, check in with you and ask the tough questions when you are sprung at your child’s netball game on your phone answering work emails!
- Recognise that there are seasons in life. Just because you might not be able to make it the gym on a daily basis now doesn’t mean it will always be like this. Accept the season you are in now and make it work as best as possible rather than wish it away. What a waste to get to the end of your life and look back to see that you did have a good life but you never knew it at the time?
So, my encouragement to you is to be kind to yourself and the woman next to you, cut yourself and them a bit of slack, cheer them on in their journey: because I can almost guarantee – they are trying just as hard as you to do it all! Good luck!!