Women ask me this question a lot. What with working, managing their own businesses, juggling children and their husband, connecting with extended family, volunteering, keeping sane…the list goes on.
I often joke that I don’t manage, I struggle. That response always draws a smile and an understanding that we are all going through the same. We all have challenges that the world cannot see, and that we perhaps hide. Think of a swan – gliding gracefully and effortlessly across the water, but only she knows how hard she is paddling under the surface.
Here’s the truth – I really do struggle.
I don’t always do the right thing or know what to do. I struggle just like any other woman. We have different journeys and thus different challenges. It is just the way it is. The worst thing to do is to compare yourself to other women.
Why? Because you can always find someone who seem to be doing better than us, managing better than us, has cuter kids, has a more wonderful husband and more fulfilling job.
However, it is an unfair playing field as we are only looking at a slice of their lives – no one likes to talk about the areas of their lives which are not working or challenges they are facing. You only need to look at Facebook posts to see this in action; platforms such as this show a life through rose-tinted glasses.
Our lives are not linear as presented on social media or in a one hour conversation. It is so much more than that. Consider the simple “Wheel of Life” exercise that I often use for my coachees, and also for myself. The Wheel below shows 10 different possible areas of our lives and the idea is to score each area of your life. This helps you see your life as a whole – not just focus on one, possibly negative area. For example, just because you have a health issue that you struggle with, does not mean you don’t have great, meaningful relationships.
Use this Wheel of Life exercise regularly. Because every time you do it, it is only a point in time evaluation. It is what is happening for you and how you are feeling at that moment. This is a journey! This tool is meant to give you a simple clarity of how you are doing and to keep reminding yourself that your life is not made of just one or two areas, but is multi-faceted.
I once used this with a group of women I was coaching and everyone was quiet after finishing the Wheel. When I asked the question, “What insight did you gain from this exercise?”, there was this very long silence. Then, one of the ladies simply said:
“I did not realize how well I am doing in many areas of my life.”
We need to remind ourselves that we are not defined by one incident, or one challenge or even the number in our bank accounts.
When we compare our worst moments with others’ best, we are only self-flagellating and that does nothing for us. We tear ourselves down without any outside help when we must be our strongest cheerleader!
So how do I manage?
Well, other than having a positive attitude, working hard and having realistic expectations of myself, I work on having a growth and progress mindset. My journey is my own, the speed of my journey is determined by me and I choose to take the road that allows me to follow my passions. Being human just means that I don’t always have it all together and things don’t always work but knowing that I am on a journey of my choosing, gives me peace and joy.
I also employ other strategies in managing the journey. These were the most difficult areas for me simply because it means I have to let go of control!
When I became a mother I was very hands on and had to do everything myself. I became run down and unable to focus on the things that really mattered – my relationships with family and friends. It also made me irritable and hard to live with.
It took me a long time to start delegating but once I started, I experienced the benefits immediately. Some of the areas of my life I have delegated are:
● getting my kids to do their own dishes and chores
● giving some of the child caring tasks to my extended family
● getting a concierge service like honestbee to do my grocery shopping
● hiring a virtual assistant to help with my business administration tasks
● automating my bill payments
● I even got my teenage daughter to bake cupcakes for a gathering at my home so I can be freed up to do other things.
When I started to delegate at home and at work, it gave me back more time and energy to do the things that are of higher priority and most important to me.
Rethink my standards
There is a clean house and then there is an ultra-clean, eat-off-the-floor clean house. Over time, I opted for the clean house. I don’t sweat over having a bit of dust in the corner cupboards or a slightly messy bookshelf. Even if my kids do not have clothes that are perfectly laundered and ironed, I don’t focus on how they look but more on connecting with them. I also stopped wondering what others will think of me as a wife, mother or person. I changed my standards to support me in the journey I have chosen – not what society dictates.
Ask for help
I now recognize that I cannot do this alone.
“No man is an island.” | “It takes a village to raise a kid.” | “Find your tribe.”
I found a group of very important people in my life that supports, encourages and helps me to achieve my goals. And I ask for their help. Regularly.
I don’t feel bad about asking for help anymore and will always show gratitude for all the help that is extended to me so I can rest, recharge or do something that is important to me. I am respectful of their time and effort but also recognizing the fact that they only want the best for me as well.
I continue to look for and find new and better ways to help myself enjoy my journey the way I was meant to.
What do you do to make your life more enjoyable?
#hansamlai #lifework #multitask