Do you feel completely overwhelmed and depleted with what’s on your plate professionally, yet have been unable to bring about the changes you want in your life?
Do you feel like you have to DO everything and be the best at it?
Do you long to feel a sense calmness, ease, and freedom in your life, but secretly believe it’s impossible to achieve?
Are you tired of feeling like you have to “look like” you’ve got it all together but secretly you’re falling apart inside?
If so, you’re in the right place at the right time.
Today I am going to share 5 steps to help you identify what’s NOT working in your life and move toward the balanced, happy life that you deserve.
When people talk about work-life balance, usually the concept involves compartmentalizing everything you do into two areas:
1. “Work” (hours at office, meetings, travel)
2. Or “Life” (family, relationships, household responsibilities, health, finances, volunteering etc).
The theory being, that if you can achieve balance between the two, you will be able to “have it all”.
The problem with the “work/life balance” theory is that work usually ends taking top priority over life. And when you neglect “life”, the result is major imbalance in all areas. Your relationships, your happiness, and your health (physical and mental) suffer.
Megan Dalla-Camina the Author of Getting Real About Having It All, did a survey of over 1000 U.S. professional women about their well being.
The results: While women are making great progress on the career front, 70% believe the concept of success at both home and work is a myth.
“More than 55% of women continue to have an issue with doing what’s best for themselves and provide favors and service for others first, even when it’s not in their best interest,” she said. “They report a feeling of being on a treadmill and running so fast they’re scared to look to the left or the right, so they just keep running.” – Megan Dalla-Camina
- 70% of women are struggling with wellbeing
- 40% say they are “hanging on by a thread”
- Encouragingly, 30% feel they have all of the things they need and want
- But sadly, only 16% are very satisfied with their lives overall
- 66% would like a better career, but 47% would like more time to themselves.
You and I live in society where people are taught to believe that if you “work harder” you will be successful and achieve your goals.
Unfortunately, when you are constantly in a state of working harder, you neglect the actions that are necessary to keep your body and mind healthy.
I know at one point I was working demanding hours, running on empty, fueled by caffeine and sugar, skipping meals, sleep-deprived, and completely depleted from trying to balance the impossible.
Although I agree that time management, proper scheduling, taking time off, and setting boundaries are very useful tools for achieving a “work-life” balance, these are simply not enough for the overworked woman of today.
Let’s dig in together and discuss tips that address the root of the problem plaguing the overworked woman today.
STEP 1: VALUE YOUR VALUES.
The single most important step to gaining more balance in your life is identifying your highest values and priorities. You are the only one who can look inside your own mind, heart and soul to discover what is truly most important to you.
Your values influence everything you do….habits, behaviors, your lifestyle, and yours social experiences. Your values are what drive you to wake up every day and live your life with purpose.
- Who and what matters most to you?
- What can’t you live without in your life?
It’s important to remember that your values change as your life changes.
Working on your values is a life-long exercise. When you start feeling unbalanced it’s usually a good indication that you are out of alignment with what’s really important to you.
John Demartini, author of The Values Factor writes, “Knowing your highest values enables you to align your life’s actions with the things that mean the most to you. Not being aware of these highest values makes it exponentially more difficult to create a meaningful, fulfilling life.”
Once you can identify and prioritize what matters most to you, you can then shift your energy and attention away from what matters less.
STEP 2: JUST SAY NO TO OVERFUNCTIONING AND PERFECTIONISM
In her book Breakdown, Breakthrough, Kathy Caprino states that over functioning women take on a slew of responsibilities, chores and projects that do not match what truly matters to them at their core. Overworked women feel they “have” to do all of this to be validated, accepted, or loved. In the process, they lose themselves. Do these thoughts go through your head?
- If I’m not always there I will miss out on something very important.
- If I don’t do it myself, someone else will do it wrong.
- I’ll be judged or ridiculed if I don’t do everything.
- If I can’t be great and 100% at work and at home, I’m a failure.
It’s time to stop working non-stop to make everything perfect.
If you find yourself showing up this way, it’s a symptom of something far deeper and there is help.
Just say NO to putting extra unnecessary pressure on yourself, at both work and home.
You have the power to change this vicious cycle and you can give yourself a break. There is no such thing as Superwoman. Most importantly, ask for help. You don’t have to do this all alone. More on this topic in Step 5.
STEP 3: FACE YOUR FEARS
“When we are stressed at work, are we not actually just afraid? Aren’t we afraid to demand shorter hours, ask if we can take time off work to attend school plays and soccer games, and insist that self-care is as valuable as work? Don’t we fear admitting we are burned out and need a sabbatical, or setting boundaries with those we work with by unplugging from email on weekends or turning off our cell phones after hours? Aren’t we terrified others will discover that we are vulnerable and imperfect, when we expend so much energy trying to prove that we’re professional superheroes?”
As a woman, it’s easy to admit that you are stressed out on a daily basis, but to discuss what you are afraid is taboo or viewed as a weakness.
We all have fears and limiting beliefs that keep us stuck, frustrated and from achieving our highest potential and happiness in every area of our life. If you believe it’s impossible to have a balanced life, take the time to examine your fears around this.
- Are you fearing that you are falling apart?
- Do you ask yourself, “Will I be safe and secure?”
- Are you afraid that you will be alone?
There is a way to discover your deepest fear, stare it dead in the eye, to know it, to learn from it and then let it go. You can then replace that fear or limiting belief with courage-enhancing ones.
STEP 4: TAKE CARE OF YOU
When we are chronically overworked and depleted, there is a long list of devastating consequences including mental, physical and emotional exhaustion that potentially leads to chronic illness and disease.
To sum it up, stress can literally make you sick, age you and kill you. Our bodies are not built to withstand the effects of chronic stress and imbalance for a prolonged period of time. Regardless of the stressor, the body’s response is the same: taxing your heart, exhausting your adrenals, weakening your immune system, and wearing out your blood vessels.
It seems like at least 70% of the women I talk to are always exhausted. They feel like they don’t have enough time in the day to get everything done, being pulled in a million different directions, feeling resentful that they have no time for themselves. This is a vicious cycle that many overworked women get stuck in.
Unfortunately, it usually takes some sort of breakdown or serious health issue to happen for them to wake up.
Take time to identify the stressors in your life. Schedule time in your calendar every day to do something good for yourself, something you love. Make it a priority to put yourself and your health first.
Eat healthy, organic foods, exercise, meditate, practice yoga, dance, laugh, have fun and love yourself.
STEP 5: ASK FOR HELP
This should have actually been Step #1, but if I put this first, you probably wouldn’t have continued reading. Contrary to what you may believe, asking for help is not a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength and acceptance.
If you feel overwhelmed by what’s on your plate, stop overdoing for others, including your spouse, children, or colleagues, employees, and friends. To gain the balance you desire and deserve, start by looking at who might be able to help you.
- Who can help you with that project at work?
- What can your husband or partner do to help with household responsibilities?
- Which chores can the kids help with around the house?
Ask your friends or in-laws to take the kids for a night, so you can have a romantic dinner with your husband. Ask your friends or in-laws to take the kids for a night, so you can have a romantic dinner with your husband.
Tell the people that love you and care about your well-being, that you need their help.
The BIG question?
What are you making it mean about yourself by NOT asking for help?
The BIGGER question?
What’s it costing you by NOT asking for help?
These 5 tips can support you to stop overburdening yourself and align yourself with your priorities, so that you feel a sense calmness, ease, and freedom from feeling guilty about asking for help.
Don’t wait. Start by implementing one step this week so you can spend more quality time with your loved ones, doing what you enjoy, without feeling guilty and running yourself ragged.
Which one of these tips will you use first?
Do any of these steps seem unobtainable?
Share you feedback in the comments below.