This is part 3 of a series about the myth of Having it All. Part 1 deals with The Myth of Having it all. Part 2 talks about setting Big Goals but having them be fluid over time. And today in Part 3 I am going to talk about how to try achieve actual balance and in essence your happiness (FYI, this is always a work in progress).
Women know that we tend to put everyone’s needs and happiness before our own. We know we need prioritize self care but somehow it keeps getting pushed down to the end of the to do list. There have been so many articles written about self care and we read them and go “ya, ya, but I can’t do that because I need to do a million other things before I can prioritize that.” And maybe we need to hit rock bottom before we can take a step back and really look at our lives and know that not only will everyone around us be happier if we are more fulfilled but also say to ourselves “if I am more fulfilled I can live a happy life.”
We only get one shot that we know of (for sure) on this planet. Why should we live it scraping by, doing the minimum amount, and phoning it in? Life has the opportunity for so many amazing things.
Everyone has something that light them up inside. These are the things that we should be sharing with the world. If it lights up something inside of us–imagine how much light we can shine when we act as the medium to harness and reflect it back out into the world?
I was hustling nonstop and pushing, pushing, pushing. I forgot all about Myself and the whole reason why I was doing all this work in the first place. The WHY was there, but it was deep down. I was really running myself ragged, lighting my candle at both ends. I ended up burning out towards the end of the summer.
When I am working all the time and have no time for myself to rest–self care can go out the window pretty fast. I think there are times to put your head down and work really hard towards a goal but I also think that it is not sustainable.
I would compare that type of work to a hard workout. At the end you need to dig deep and push harder and do more, lift more, and go farther than you ever thought was possible. But you can’t operate at the level 100% of the time. You need to build that base. You need to do the endurance training and the speed training but you can’t workout at that point of exhaustion forever. At some point you are going to fall on your face.
I have a million big goals that I want to achieve over my lifetime. I love goal setting exercises. I love to backwards build. I love to set a timeline that is going to push me to reach further than I think I can go if I am feeling lazy. I love to be pushed. But sometimes we need to be realistic about a huge factor in goal setting: TIME. (Read more about this in Part 2 of this series.)
As a working mom my schedule is never consistent. Between school schedules, and especially during summer break there is crazy inconsistency. Some weeks the kids are home, in school, in camp, being driven to one activity, a birthday party or any other number of things. Available ME Time is something that is always in flux.
This year I set a huge goal for myself to 10X my revenue over last year. I backwards built how it was all going to go down, I had a plan. Unfortunately fate laughed at my plan and threw a few curveballs my way. Instead of readjusting my timeline I pushed through and still tried to get to where I set my sights. But it was really to the detriment of everyone around me including myself and my own self preservation.
At the end of the summer I was BURNED OUT. I knew something needed to shift. So I took 2 weeks that I really didn’t have (according to my goals) and stopped working. I needed to be following up after exhibiting at the Seattle Gift Show but I just couldn’t. It was 1 week before the start of school for my 3rd grader, and 2 weeks before the start of Kindergarten. I wanted to enjoy some free time with my kids. So I did. I am the boss. I make the rules and if I decide to take off 2 weeks to go play on the beach with my kids I can do that.
I didn’t realize how necessary these 2 weeks were going to be. We went to the beach almost every day, I hung out with my husband at night instead of working, I slept in a little in the morning, and if I woke up early then I just hung out, went for a bike ride, had morning coffee, whatever I felt like. Having that time for myself was magical. I couldn’t remember the last time I had made time for self care…
Something else interesting happened in those 2 weeks: I felt creative again. Not only that–I was open to seeing things creatively in a new light.
I am starting to play with watercolors, I am intrigued by mandalas and henna, I have painted my kids faces almost every day with whatever they can dream up. I have felt a creative awakening that I have never felt before.
Everything I have worked on up to this point has either been product driven or has come with emotional baggage of I can’t do that because XYZ.
Now I ignore that inner negative voice and I am just playing.
I think I am going to be better for it because I am really exploring the inner positivity instead of listening to the negative inner thoughts. My kids and my relationship with them is going to be better for it.
I am not just shuttling them around from one place to another, I am actually taking time to be creative and play with them.
My company is going to be better for it because as I continue to develop my creative voice it will filter down into my products furthering my creative journey and continuing to build on the uniqueness of my brand.
And taking all this time for myself has had the added benefit of strengthening my relationship with my husband. When I am able to care for myself and become a happier individual, the time we spend with one another is less stressful and we can just enjoy one another in a way that we haven’t been able to in a long time because I was always stressed and working or mothering.
Think about the things you liked to do as a kid. For me it was art, day dreaming, and writing secret notes to my friends. Going back to this it's pretty clear to me why I am doing what I am doing now and how as a kid I already seemed to know my path and purpose.
Try thinking back, maybe it will hold the same secret keys for you too?
• Balance self care, play, family, goals and intentions in conjunction with time available.
• Big Goals are awesome but they also need to be Time Fluid.
• Practice grace when the timeline needs to shift. It’s going to be OK. If something takes 1 year instead of 6 months, the world is not going to end. But if you continue to try to cram it all into those 6 months–your happiness and the happiness of those around you is going to suffer.
• Make sure you create time for self care. I am putting this twice because it's REALLY important. If you are run down you can't help anyone else.
• And remember: The only way to lose and fail is to quit. Just keep going and don’t let minor setbacks become the excuse for quitting.
One important thing to remember when setting these huge "unrealistic" goals, is that they need to have a fluid timeline. In this post I talk about the importance of not lowering your goals to make them "realistic" and lessons learned from this year of hustle.