Have you ever wished that you can clone yourself or have multiple arms and hands to finish all the tasks in front of you?
Or sometimes hear yourself yell out to your demanding kids, “I ONLY HAVE TWO HANDS!!!”
Or sometimes, you just break down and cry because of frustration and being tired of just giving in to all the demands in your life?
There are too many things to do, but too little time. There’s work, kids to take care of, cook breakfast, what’s for dinner, grocery shopping, after school activities, clean the house, walk the dog, care for elderlies, demands of partners, to-do lists, etc. The list goes on depending on your environment. Often, our only rest is bedtime (for some, it’s even cut short to accommodate other tasks!).
I’m a single mom of a 14-year-old amazing girl, works in a highly competitive pharmaceutical industry, business owner, executive and leadership coach, a volunteer community leader, a daughter to elderly parents, a sister, a friend, a colleague. You can imagine how full my plate is! A lot of my friends are asking me how I manage it all. And I tell them it’s not easy! I must go through a lot of challenges to be able to find balance in what I do.
I remember a couple of years ago when my daughter Ella and I were having this chat while doing our nightly facial care ritual. That was a stressful period in my life – dealing with our business’s financial difficulties, being new in my job, and travelling quite often for work. On top of that, I have my mommy duties and make sure that everything is okay. I apologized to her that night for being so busy and having little time with her. I asked her what I can do better? Her reply struck me, and it made an indelible imprint in my being. She said, “Mom, I wish you wouldn’t get mad at little things. You are an angry person.” When she said those words, I saw the pain and sadness in her eyes. I was speechless. It broke my heart seeing her unhappy. I felt I had failed her. I hugged her tightly and made a promise to change. I realized that in my pursuit to give my family a better and comfortable life, I forgot to make my daughter a priority and clouded my purpose by doing many things at once. I realized that I don’t want her to think that being an angry person is the norm. I realized that I’m not a good role model for her. I realized that what’s most important is for me to come home to my daughter – a loving mom who can give my undivided attention to her, a listening ear whom she can confide her fears and dreams, a presence that she can enjoy knowing that I’m all hers at that moment.
Most of us career-oriented individuals suffer from a lack of balance in our daily life. With so many things to juggle, we often go through our day, trying to accomplish the tasks at hand with little sense of fulfilment and purpose. The sad part is we also put ourselves and our well-being at the bottom of our to-do list. We comply with so many demands that we fail to notice that our cup becomes empty and depleted. This juggling act becomes a habit that we function like robots. We become stressed, anxious, discouraged, angry, depressed and disappointed. And it’s not only ourselves we are hurting; we are also hurting the people we love.
Those words from Ella sounded like an alarm bell to me. I consciously decided to change and made several choices to find balance in my life. The change has to start with me. There are three critical changes or actions I made that allowed me to find the balance I was seeking, and these you can easily apply in your life if you are facing challenges finding the right balance:
- CONNECT WITH YOUR GOAL, EVERY DAY. Each of us has goals in life. Some are small goals, and some are big goals. As we journey through life, it may change from one stage of life to another. For a young, fresh out-of-university person, the goal could be to find the ideal job. For parents, their goal might be to raise their kids in a comfortable life and help them attain a good education. And for older people, their goals might be to retire with a certain amount of money to give them a comfortable retirement. Some goals are small and often work towards the attainment of a bigger purpose. Like, somebody whose goal is to learn how to budget in the next few months to save money for a grand vacation (whew! when this pandemic is over for sure!). Whatever our goal is, we have to be laser-focused and be connected daily with it until it comes to fruition. When we know it by heart, we can devise a strategy or action plan geared towards its fulfilment. It is also easy for us to set aside the distractions that come. Which now leads me to my second point, and that is to:
- LEARN PRIORITY MANAGEMENT. We often hear experts tell us about time management. But here is what I learned from my coach – we cannot manage time, but we can manage our priorities. So true. For who can say, “I’m learning time management, and today I was able to hold back the hours and finished all my tasks!”? That would be an out-of-this-world phenomenon! Instead, what we can do is learn how to manage our priorities. Every day, I have my action list (or to-do list), and I rank the items based on how they will contribute towards my goal and their urgency. Whatever ranks high gets more of my time and attention. Whatever ranks low must wait or maybe even be delegated to others. For example, if cleaning the bathroom sink is in my list but then ranked low in my priorities for the day or the week, I ask my daughter to do the task instead. This delegation takes off another thing to do on my list. It gives me more time to spend on more critical tasks and lessens my stress. Also, my daughter learns household chores and responsibility.
- RESPECT YOUR YOURSELF AND LEARN TO SAY “NO.” How many of us are suffering from Superwoman or Superman Syndrome? While the term pleases our ears it’s not just possible without sacrificing a lot of ourselves. Women are more prone to the Superwoman Syndrome because it’s in our psyche that we are multitasking experts. We pile up a laundry basket of things to do and think we can accomplish them all. Over time, we complain about how tired and stressed we are. We become emotional and angry and throw our frustrations to the people around us. Here’s what we forgot to acknowledge, even superheroes need sidekicks. Remember how Superman only responds to life-threatening situations? The rest goes to the police! There will come a time when your body will say enough is enough, and you must respect it. Give it a rest. Take a deep breath. Rest your mind and empty it of unnecessary thoughts. Many external factors demand our attention – whether it be from our family, friends, colleagues – and if the matter is not urgent, and we have first to rest, we must learn how to say “No” lovingly and respectfully. When we are recharged and happy, then we can give them our attention entirely. When we force ourselves to give in to these demands during the times we are stressed and frustrated, they will not be enjoying our presence. Who would like to spend time with a grumpy person anyway?
Lastly, to help me manage my priorities and remind me to take small steps towards my goals every day, in front of my desk is a sticky note wherein I wrote, “Is what you’re doing right now contributing towards your goal?” Every time I look at the message, it stops me from doing trivial tasks and gets me focused on what’s necessary. Finding balance comes in different shapes or forms for each one of us. But all of us must start somewhere and get better at it. Instead of juggling, we can balance like a gymnast on a high beam.
If you are on a quest for a better version of yourself, let’s connect. Visit my website at www.coachedbyjoy.com and send me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also message me on my FB and Instagram page, Coached By Joy.
A coach is your ally. A coach is your strategist. A coach is committed to your success.