This post is a little different than the pregnant/mommy/family posts I have previously shared. It is about that illusive balance we all try to find in life. There is a lot of emphasis on moms and the constant struggle between home and the office, but I know there are plenty of non-moms who also struggle with some type of imbalance in their life.
Do I want to have it all? Maybe.
- I want to be a mom. Not just an okay mom, but a fun, engaged, and teaching mom.
- I want to be a good wife with a loving and strong marriage.
- I want to have a career. Not just a job, a career and help run a successful business.
- I want friendships. To maintain and strengthen old friendships while building new ones.
- I want to live a healthy lifestyle. I want to eat well and make more home cooked meals. I want to exercise and like it! I want endless energy.
- I want a house that is always clean and ready for anyone to drop by at any time. I want to have parties and entertain in my clean fun home.
- I want to volunteer and make a difference in the community.
- I want to constantly be learning new things and improving myself: strengthen my speaking abilities, become a better leader, learn to sew, get better at knitting, brush up on Spanish, take professional quality photographs, read the classics, travel, memorize poetry, you know the usual.
Oh and I have to do a lot of it on my own because of my husband’s work schedule.
Earlier this year I was lucky enough to join a fabulous group of ladies in the SOS Gr8 Women Leaders Program. Through this program I have learned a lot and have actually made real progress on most of the above. Then about two weeks ago I hit a wall. I was overwhelmed and burnt out. (For the record, this my fault alone. I was warned about trying to do too much, but it is my M.O. to start at 100 miles an hour until I run out of gas.)
Then, almost as if they knew where I was in life, Heather McKissick, CEO of Leadership Austin, spoke with our group about her own personal journey and how that helped her develop into the sought after leader she is today. She shared her balance between being a mother, a wife, having a successful and fulfilling career, and serving the community.
Amber Fogarty, our group leader, has already written a great post on the subject. I am going to share a section because I couldn’t have said it better myself:
Heather talked about the “all or nothing mentality” we sometimes get into as leaders. We think we have to do it all; we try to be all things to all people. We allow ourselves to buy into the notion that we can please everyone. Have you ever been there? I certainly have. I have mental images of myself in a Superwoman cape, and I fly off triumphantly into the sunset. Okay, not really. But I do get fired up about a lot of things, and I truly want to do them ALL well. I want to be the best wife and mother, the best at my job, the best professor, the best blogger, the best volunteer, the best advocate, the best runner (cyclist, triathlete, or whatever fitness kick I’m on), the best _____________ (insert 50 other goals here). And where does all this motivation lead me?
I get tired. Or overwhelmed. Or sick. Or all of the above at once. And then I have nothing left. In those moments, I curse myself for trying to do it all AND for not being able to do it all. I look around at others who seem to have it all together and think I’m not as strong as they are. It is then that I want to do nothing. I want to retreat from it all, to go into my cave and hibernate. I need a break. (And sometimes, during my lowest moments, I blame others for my “crash and burn.” I can’t see the reality of the situation that I created, and I want it to be someone else’s fault.)
(Read the rest of Amber’s post to see her “Aha moment” and continue reading for mine.)
It is like Amber has been following me around.
I asked Heather about the service component. I have a 16 month old, a demanding career, and often an absent husband. I tried to join a board earlier this year but realized I just couldn’t do it. Was it okay to say that now was not the right time for me to be involved in the community?
You know what Heather did? She said something so obvious it is almost embarrassing. I don’t have to join a board or be the number one volunteer to serve the community. What if I just find somewhere to volunteer one hour a month and go from there?
Wait, what? I don’t have to be the number one best at everything I do? I shouldn’t use not being the best at something as a reason to give up or not start in the first place? (Hello quitting ski lessons at lunch.)
I have spent a lot of time examining and reflecting on her comment. As simple as that statement was it carried a lot of weight for me and I learned an important and maybe obvious life lesson: 1. You may not have the ability to do something at the level you want, but that doesn’t mean you just give up until you do. 2. Keep moving forward. 3. Something, even if it is just one hour a month, is better than nothing. 4. Don’t beat yourself over what you cannot do – focus on what you can.
Now I am ready to get back to having it all!