Your to-do list is a mile long. Your inbox is overflowing. Everyone and their uncle needs your help. You know you really should exercise, eat better, keep a journal, and organize all those photos . . . some day. You are tired, probably stressed, and (if you are human) likely resorting to unhelpful coping strategies like comfort eating, skipping your workouts, or cutting back on sleep. It can feel like a vicious cycle that has no end. How does a busy woman fit it all in, create the me-time and quality self-care she craves, and shift from surviving to thriving?
Answer: she doesn’t.
Superwoman is a Myth
No one can do it all. All of us live days that consist of 24 hours. Accepting the truth that you can’t do everything is a critical step for thriving. In fact, accepting this limitation actually simplifies things and makes moving from survival to thriving MUCH easier.
So, repeat after me:
“I can’t do it all. I can spend my energy with respect and care.”
This declaration can change just about everything.
Say Goodbye to Perfectionism
The idea that you will completely finish, get it all done, or get it all perfect, is unrealistic and stifling. It creates paralysis, procrastination, and a limited perspective.
Perfectionists tend to feel lousy about themselves, afraid (of screwing up), and more stressed than necessary. Rigidly adhering to perfectionism is NOT spending your energy with respect and care. Instead of “getting it perfect,” focus on consistently moving in the right direction. When you ditch perfectionism, it becomes YOUR job to define what and when is enough. Cultivate what Jennifer Louden calls conditions of enoughness—specific definitions of what is reasonable—and practice calling it enough when you achieve them.
Stop Shoulding on Yourself
Spending your energy with care and respect means that YOU need to be deliberate and in charge of where your time and focus goes.
“Is this worth it to me?”
“Is this important?”
“What are the trade-offs of saying yes or no to this task?”
These are the types of questions you want to ask when you step into the driver’s seat of your life. “Shoulds” come from a place of reacting. “Shoulds” tend to be standards that are imposed by others. “I should clean my house/lose ten pounds/make more money.”
A “should” is hardly ever a compelling reason. It lacks conviction. It’s often driven by guilt, or a desire for approval, or a belief that you aren’t good enough. “Shoulds” tend to create stress and attempts at change that don’t last.
In order to thrive and to fit in what’s important, whatever it is needs to be convincingly important to you. Know your compelling reason. For example—I am always working to get more vegetables into my diet. Telling myself I “should” doesn’t get me very far. Knowing, from a lifetime of living in my body, that I have more energy and feel better when I eat a balanced diet with lots of vegetables, is much more compelling.
My client Jane (not her real name), told me she “should” lose weight. And she sounded miserable just saying it. However, when we unearthed her compelling reasons (she desperately wanted to be able to travel with ease and fit into airplane seats, be able to get back on a bike and take rides with her daughter, and ease her joint pain so she could get back to dancing–which she used to love), Jane got some real mojo going. She also became very clear that taking care of herself was an essential place to be spending her energy.
Self-care is a Necessity
Do you get it? You’ll never fit it all in—but you can enjoy the journey. When you let go of trying to do it all and start making careful choices, you step into the driver’s seat of your life.
What you do spend your time and energy on will be much more satisfying and of much higher quality if YOU show up primed and in your best form. Your business, your job, your relationships, your life depend on you. YOU are the main ingredient. It’s just like the flight attendants tell you. If you haven’t put your own oxygen mask on, you won’t have much to offer others no matter how strongly you want to help them.
If you are determined to get the most out of your life and your 24 hour day, pay yourself first. Claiming the time for you and the health you crave is not a luxury—it’s an investment that will pay you back over and over again.
Thriving is Not a Destination—it is the Journey
Accept your limitations (with relief), spend your time and energy with care and respect, and pay yourself first. You won’t get it perfect (guaranteed!), but this formula will keep you on the path to creating a life that works for you.
Take good care,