Here is one for you. I have gone through the “working mom syndrome”…torn between work and child and the guilty feelings that nag at your heart. Well now I’m an empty nester with a widowed and aging mother who has lots of time on her hands. Now I’m torn between my absurd work life and finding quality unrushed undistracted time to spend with her. Again the guilt and the “what about me” time and feeling selfish. How to balance???
-Anonymous Facebook Friend 🙂
Dear Beautiful Facebook Friend,
Jim Rohn’s quote seems to perfectly capture my sentiments around our perpetual pursuit of this mystical idea we call “Life Balance”.
“The greatest gift you can give to somebody is your own personal development. I used to say, ‘If you will take care of me, I will take care of you.’ Now I say, ‘I will take care of me for you, if you will take care of you for me.”
Before I became a Mother, I would never have been able to truly appreciate your struggle. Only now do I understand how immensely difficult it is to find balance when someone is wholly dependent on you…and when you have a career…and when you have a home to manage…and when you get hundreds of emails each day…and when it’s been months since you have spent time with your closest friends…and when you have piles of laundry…and..ughhh! It is intense, to say the least.
We all know that we must take care of ourselves. We all know that balance is the obvious answer, but how could we ever consider taking time for self-care when our “to-do” list is never-ending? Before I was a Mother, I could make time for meditation, the gym, the business, etc. I might suffer a loss of sleep and leisure time, but that was the only risk. My new life often feels more like treading water vs. crossing the many finish lines I once reached.
It is incredibly demoralizing to feel like we are barely making it in any area of our lives. Something HAS to change! Yes, yes!..but WHAT?
The pre-requisite is that you must make a date with yourself to do a full life assessment. To have a significant impact on the quality of your life, this cannot be solved while driving the car and restlessly contemplating solutions. 🙂
Once you are sitting down on your “solo date”, dig into the exercise below –
#1 – TIME TO TAKE INVENTORY
- What is MOST important in your life? What is ESSENTIAL?
- Really dig deep here. Don’t go with automatic answers. Really question how you want to spend the rest of your days here (and never forget they always come to an end). Identify what is most important to you. Even if you know it isn’t possible at the moment, make sure you at least note it and keep it heavily in mind. If you don’t know where you are headed, you are destined to remain lost. (If you need help with this, google “Vision Boards” for many great exercises to guide you.)
- Get very clear on your main life goals and unabashedly honor them with reasonable boundaries.
- For me right now, my priorities are my Spiritual Connection (you can also think of this as Mental Health), my Husband & Son, my physical health and my career. I have other priorities, but I protect these above all (with very rare exception).
#2 – LET GO
- Are there any commitments and obligations that don’t reflect your priorities? Do you need to excuse yourself from a committee? Do you need to sub out any of your responsibilities?
- Here is a great article on “saying no.”
- Are there any relationships that leave you feeling depleted? Here is a great article on identifying and releasing toxic relationships.
- Do you need to let go of any stressful expectations of yourself (i.e. house must always be clean, I must never be lazy, etc.)?
#3 – STREAMLINE
- Do you need to to simplify in any way? Can you combine your priority for exercise with your desire to see your Mom? Could you put on a favorite movie for the two of you to watch while you do lunges and sit-ups? Who can you lean on to take some of the load off of you?
#4 – TAKE TIME FOR SELF-CARE EVERY SINGLE DAY
- This is the single most important item on the list, but I wanted to ease into this one. 30 minutes EVERY SINGLE DAY is the mandatory prescription. Not to rush around, not to get on Facebook, not to watch TV…but to CONNECT with your soul, your heart, your God…to whatever brings you the deep stillness that is only available when you fully commit to honoring your self as a being who has needs too! (Please read that last sentence again.) Sit in silence. Walk in the park. Pray. Meditate. Read uplifting books. .
- Think of this as your J-O-B. It is the only way you might honor it as the most important duty of your day.
- It has been my experience that life is entirely different when I adhere to this rule. Every time I let a span of weeks fly by without it, I inevitably become wiped out, depleted, exhausted. Only when I return to this commitment do I remember who I am and feel the peace and calm needed to make the best choices for me.
Taking time for self-care is the single most unnatural task for so many of us. We are ever willing to work harder, work longer, to give more…but ask us to give ourSELVES a small dose of daily care??? It is almost unthinkable. But we know better…deep down we do. We are quick to tell our loved ones to “take care of themselves”, but we rarely give ourselves that same love.
The TRUTH? We think we are too busy, that too many people need us. We don’t realize that we are giving a fraction of what we could if we would only refuel. We are so busy thinking about what others need, that we MISS the FACT that we aren’t actually giving that much at all. Are you a stressed-out, unfulfilled, anxious person? Or are you a relaxed, peaceful, fulfilled person? Which person do you think can truly help the world around them?
I hope this provides you the inspiration to make YOU the most important priority. I promise it will amount to so much more to give to the many people in your life lucky enough to know you!
Sending you so much love,