Like most mothers, I have a sick level of time management that goes into the beautiful orchestration of my day. Running a household, keeping two little ones fed, clean and entertained, being a wife, staying fit and growing a business all at the same time is about one thousand times harder to balance that I ever anticipated. Some days I find myself wishing I could attach an IV of coffee to myself and fantasizing about taking a nap. My minutes are precise and masterfully planned out. I know that I need to start trying to leave the house at 7:37 AM in order for both kids to be in the car and actually leave at 8:00AM because my two-year-old daughter insists on hugging and kissing every single stuffed animal or doll she sees goodbye. If I want to be somewhere that involves walking more than 10-feet from the car to the door of the building, I need to build in an extra 6 to 8 minutes of unpredictable wandering time, smelling of flowers or twirling in circles into our estimated journey time. Every minute of every hour is pre-accounted for, with the appropriate amount of needed and excessive margin built into the equation, though, at the end of the day I still find myself slumped over and both physically and emotionally spent, not even sure if I accomplished anything that day beyond surviving. Those days suck because they are the ones in which I believed the lie and tried to live it – the lie that I should be “doing it all” and it leaves me churned up and spit out, feeling like I am thankful to have just survived the day, and well, I am not okay with this.
Ah, surviving. That word makes me cringe. I have been working relentlessly for years in my coaching practice teaching and empowering people to overcome “survival mode” and to live differently. I have professionally trained my mind to set off alarms when I revert into “survival mode,” but the struggle is real, so I want to be real about it. We need to have a conversation about changing our expectations. I confess...over the last few weeks I have found myself “surviving” instead of thriving. Partially worn down by my schedule and partially beaten down by the sometimes uncontrollable and unpredictable toddler tantrums, the end of the day sometimes can’t come quickly enough … and I hate that mentality, it is everything opposite of what I believe. I believe in thriving, even in the mess. And I admit that this isn’t always easy. At all. The good news is that when we find ourselves in the place where I recently found myself – exhausted, overwhelmed, and emotionally depleted, it is not the act of “surviving’ itself that is dangerous but instead the false belief that one is stuck there. We are never stuck and we always have a choice to transfer from a survival mindset to a thriving mindset – it takes work, but it wins you back your life, joy and happiness, so it is well worth the effort.
I felt the overwhelm, I felt the “I’m-just-getting-by-and-I-am-so-exhausted” mentality saturating my outlook and I felt filled with gratitude. Gratitude because the overwhelm I felt was a red flag. It was an alert to tell me that I needed to change something. And so that is what I am doing and why I am writing. Because I know you are out there too – maybe feeling how I did and not being sure where to turn or how to start to change something. The change from negative to positive starts in the small things, for it is the simple things that are most satisfying and most fulfilling. If you want to thrive in life, if you want to turn in the “I’m-so-busy-and-constantly-exhausted” card, then slowing down to focus on what is most beautiful about life is the first significant step of positive change you can make.
To extract myself from “surviving” to go back to “thriving” I had to redefine and remind myself of my values and of what matters to me. I had to define success and go through my schedule and life with a magnifying glass to assess what belonged and what needed to go. I had to stop trying to be everything to everyone and trying to do it all. This is way easier said than done when you have spent years buying into the Superwoman Syndrome. I had to have a honest conversation with my husband about needing more help and about how defeated and depleted I was actually feeling. This was humbling. It wasn’t easy. It wasn’t fun. But it was necessary and it worked. Success always works like that – it takes intentional living and choices, all of which is always in our power to do.
For me, I made decisions about what I wanted to do with my time. I believe that success is being able to spend time doing what you value and love. So, as I analyzed the details of my day, I had to keep only that which I value and love – and the necessary responsibilities in life like packing lunches, folding the laundry, or paying the bills. The key was to realize that those things, though I may not love doing them in the moment, do actually allow me to do that which I value and love, thereby making them something I value and love.
The management of minutes is a dance – an exhausting one and one that I’ve had more than enough practice of in my life to know that I don’t want to do it anymore. It’s hard, to step back and say “no” to what the world around you tells you that you can and you should be doing, but I’m ready to be different. As I have tried to “do it all and be it all” I have looked around and realized that no one is actually happy who does this – we are told to be happy, and that “doing it all and being it all” will make us so, but I am hard pressed to find anyone who agrees that it actually is by living in this way. No one who is managing “to do it all” is actually doing it all or actually happy. It’s time that we start thinking for ourselves and asking ourselves what kind of life – and pace of life – we really want to live.
I want to live intentionally, not haphazardly.
I want a life that is savored slowly, not rushed or chaotic.
I want to live with joy, not with anxiety or stress.
I want to twirl with my toddler in the middle of a sidewalk, not rush her to walk faster.
I want to suspend time to tickle my baby and hear his first giggles, not wish that he was napping so I could do more work.
I want to have deep conversations with my husband, not numb myself with TV or social out of exhaustion and distraction.
I want to be different, not as the world tells me to be, but as my heart of hearts tells me to be.
There’s a point where you must decide what matters to you and what motivates you. What quality of life do you have and do you want? Doing it all is a joke, and the joke is on us. It is unrealistic expectations and unattainable standards – and we chase it like moths to a flame. Though we may renounce our perfectionistic tendencies because we know they are detrimental to our mental health and wellbeing, in the same breath we proclaim exceptions and to-do lists that scream of perfectionism hidden under the guise of productivity. It’s not okay and it’s time to change. It’s time to recognize that the “doing it all” mentality is based in comparison and the false conception that we need to prove ourselves and our place in this world through performance and by demonstrating just how much we can get done. Let me tell it to you straight: you are not valued or loved based on how much you can get done. You are worthy of it all because you are you and because you are a child of God. It’s that simple.
Don’t get me wrong, I am a fanatic about time management and productivity. I have built the lifestyle of my dreams – having worked diligently for years moonlighting my business at night while working a full-time fitness corporate job and training twenty hours per week for endurance triathlons. I am not saying that there isn’t a time and a place, or short seasons of life, for a tunnel vision, all in approach to launching your dreams, in which you might find yourself meticulously mastering a chaotic schedule that allows you to “do it all.” What I am saying though is that these seasons are not sustainable. They are temporary and while they allow us to grow ourselves externally, they suffocate us internally, not allowing for any time, space or breath to feed our souls and recharge our batteries. Spend too much time in a season of ultra-productivity and you will find yourself work-obsessed, successful, but painfully disconnected from anyone emotionally, rendering you incapable of sharing the joy and fruits of your hard earned labor.
In my most recent experience of the case of “do-it-all-and-be-it-all,” the challenge has been balancing motherhood with the rest of life. We celebrate motherhood, but we don’t culturally acknowledge enough that being a mother is more than enough. We don’t realize that we are enough. Moms want to do more, and often, depending upon a family’s needs, we need to do more. And so we take on more roles, and put on more hats, and more on layer after layer of expectations upon ourselves … and we wonder why we feel like we are suffocating, drowning or being crushed by being behind. We feel like an impostor and never quite feel good enough. We do this to ourselves. We do it by trying to be it all and do it all and it simply isn’t working. It’s time to change the conversation and expectation. We owe it to ourselves, our health and our happiness. It is up to us to stop crushing our own spirits. It is up to us to decide to live differently and I invite you to do this with me.
For me to change how life felt I had to realize that I was the cause of my own stress for the madness to stop; I had to take ownership. I wish I could take more credit for this, but to be honest, it was my husband that made me come to reality with the real issue at hand. The issue wasn’t that I had too much to do – the issue were the choices I had made. I was to blame for my own exhaustion and own stress. I had made the choice to believe that I needed to do, do, do, do, do … I had made the choice that I wasn’t “allowed” to relax…I had made the choice that I wanted to look like a superwoman, a supermom and a super fraud by not accepting help from others and by not setting boundaries …. I had made the choice to not put margin in my life … I had made the choice to not know the difference between my preferences and my priorities … I had made the choice to live a stressed life instead of a satisfying one.
We live out the experience of our choices, and so if you aren’t happy with how you are living, then it’s time to take a serious look at the choices you are making or have made to get you to where you are.
If you want to change your life, change your choices.
Make the choice to prioritize what matters to you.
Make the choice to thrive, instead of survive.
Make the choice to believe in abundance.
Make the choice to see beauty and opportunity instead of stress.
Make the choice to build in more margarin.
Make the choice to have time for kindness and connection.
Make the choice to say “no” to stress and busyness.
When we try to do it all we end up missing out on it all. Doing “it all” distracts us from what really matters in life. It warps our understanding of our self-worth. It creates a baseline of internal anxiety as we live in incongruence – working hard to show others that we are “keeping it all together ” with ease, when really we are overextended, emotionally depleted and flat out exhausted from relentlessly spinning our wheels and putting on our show. I want to be different. I want to let people know that sometimes I need a day of Netflix on the couch, that sometimes I forget to pack my daughter’s lunch and that sometimes the laundry pile is embarrassingly high, and that those things are all okay.
Let’s slow down.
Let’s do less.
Let’s separate “success” and “worth” from productivity and busyness.
Let’s connect more.
Let’s do things we love and that bring us joy.
Let’s stop comparing.
Let’s start believing in living “beautifully”.
Let’s be more kind.
Let’s realize that we are doing better than we think we are.
Let’s live lives that are satisfying, not stressful.
I want to walk alongside you as you take the leap of faith that “less is more” and as you learn to step out of the busyness of surviving so that you can step into the beautiful flow of thriving. You don’t need to “do it all” in order to reach your goals and live the life of your dreams, trust me. You have all of the tools you need and the courage within you to thrive and excel – you just have to slow down and believe in yourself to let them shine. I want to help you believe in yourself and in your ability to live differently; come join me as as member of The College of Confidence and together we will identify the tools and strategies you need to absolutely thrive. Take the stress and pressure off yourself and come enroll today for just $1 >> > www.trishblackwell.com/college
Beyond that, know this, you are enough. You are doing better than you think you are. You don’t have to stress yourself out to live a satisfying and fulfilling life. You have me in your corner and I am cheering you on as you pursue both self-care and success.