Do you wake up, and before your feet hit the floor, realize you’re already behind schedule? You feel like there’s more to do in a day than you can achieve in a week or even a month. And by the end of the day, your energy is spent with nothing left for yourself?
I’ve been there with millions of others. For many, it’s a matter of having a corporate job that sucks you dry with long days and weekend work, along with a long commute, or the stay at home parents who do it all, or single moms and dads. In my case, it was a combination of all these things along with running a business and returning to the university for higher education!
So, why do we stretch ourselves so thin? Why do we not prioritize ourselves?
- Love for the family
- Lack of self-worth
- Obsessive behavior — no one can do it better than you
- Ladder climber
Usually, it’s love. Love for the family — the sacrificial lamb for the greater cause. Perhaps you’re a compulsive over giver who lives on a precipice; they will be rejected if they don’t overcompensate — lack of self-worth. Perhaps you’re over-giving at the office as the ladder climber— rising in the ranks of your career?
It’s how people perceive the value of their own life that decides their fate. If you feel you’re the least important, it’s easy to be the first one up and last one to bed. But also, if you’re obsessive, nothing is right unless you do it, this leads others to abandon ship and leave you to sail solo.
I have a client who felt it her duty, her part to overwork. Her family needed her, the neighborhood was always at her home, PTO and school volunteer days were a second job, and her large house was spotless with gourmet meals on the table morning and night. She was the Facebook model. And going to the office was again consistent. She did everything for everyone, to the brink of endangering her position. She’d help another over her own needs daily. Then one day, she looked in the mirror and wondered where she’d gone! Being an over giver does not ensure your success, in fact it hinders it. Take a look around, it’s those who don’t over-give that are promoted, more successful, and happier. Balance
Sound familiar? It happened to me.
NOT PRIORITIZING YOU— AGES YOU
Is your hair thinner, your eyes are tired, you now looked frumpy in clothes that are from early in the decade! I remember when a sister-in-law said, “You wear that sweater too much.” I never took the time for myself nor put expense into me. As I always remember thinking, it was best to save the money or put it somewhere else, and we had plenty!
THE ADVENTUROUS SIDE OF THE GIVER
Being that person who is a “yes”-sayer, compulsive giver, and or pleaser of crowds has its downfalls. It’s impulsive, brave, and usually, these types of people are always down for an adventure, have no fear meeting and mingling with new people, or switching plans at a moment’s notice.
As we well know, the doors for adventurous types are always open, especially with the PTO, bosses, family, and colleagues who are happy with the eagerness and “can-do” attitude.
But again, it’s exhausting — and being stretched to the brink of breaking leads to very unproductive days, weeks, and months. Ultimately you burn out and look in the mirror and say, “Who am I?”
NOTHING WORKS OPTIMALLY WHEN YOU DON’T PRIORITIZE YOU
How many times have you written a to-do list and then never looked at it again, or changed it before you began to accommodate the increasing demands? I can’t tell you how many times I drove to the supermarket, only to forget what I went there for. That’s how busy I was.
Do you feel fear to disappoint your bosses, colleagues, friends, kids, spouse, partner, but never prioritize yourself?
Do you feel like you just don’t have time to try to figure out why things don’t work? You just need to get things done. But it’s like this, you’re burned out, you don’t know it, even though you do, and things will never be on track and in order until you begin to make you a priority along with everyone and everything else.
Burn out is a bummer? All of us who don’t prioritize end up the same. And this doesn’t just apply to a stay at home parents. The working parent can stretch their load so thin that they lose their ability to connect with their partner in what can turn into a resentful relationship.
There are just too many things in this life that push us into a type of obligatory feeling, and soon we lose our own value. “My husband brings in the income, so I should sacrifice, he wasn’t big on me quitting my job in the first place and now supports me as the stay at home mom.” or “My wife works full time and does a lot with the kids, I’ll give up guys night out and help her more as she’s not big on my friends anyway.” Another good one, “The family wants to come for the holidays, so let’s cancel our vacation plans again!”
There are many wrong reasons to give up who you are for someone else, and whenever guilt is the catalyst, you’ve already lost the end game.
There’s room for “guys” night out, fair sharing with a new sweater, and time to give to family and plan you’re own personal family time.
The list of needs will never cease to reproduce like rabbits — especially ones from your superiors and family members. But giving too much of yourself will not benefit you and eventually be your downfall.
So, let’s start with your first assignment. Write down who it is you’re trying to please the most? Boss, spouse, family. And ask yourself:
Do I Feel Guilty About Anything In My Life?
- I’ feel guilty working full time with three kids at home.
- I feel guilty not working as my husband would like me to work at least part-time.
- I feel guilty that I give more time to my boss than my family.
- I feel guilty that I don’t spend time with my husband because the kids need me.
- I feel guilty of being single — mom wants grandkids and I want a career.
MAKE IT A PRACTICE TO PAUSE BEFORE AGREEING TO ANYTHING AND THINK IT THROUGH.
The first thing you’re going to work on is pausing before agreeing to do anything. But it takes time to master, so hang in there and don’t worry if it takes a few practices to get it going.
Example: You’re at an event, and you’re being asked a favor, and it’s easy to say, “yes” in the moment, only to regret it after the fact. We will talk about this more in the lesson, but practicing a counter-response ahead of time really works.
When you’re prepared to say, “I never commit until I’ve had a chance to look at my schedule, so let me get back to you” always works. It gives you time to pause and prevent over-scheduling that brings on stress, anxiety, and less control. While at the same time, shows you’re responsible and gives you time to think it out.
It makes no difference where a request comes from. It’s all strategic. When I became a stay-at-home mom, volunteering replaced the career madness. Try letting the groups at your kid’s school down, or the bake sale committee at your synagogue, church, family, or support group. There is an event, a fundraiser, a party, competition, and stress in the whole mom thing. One wrong yes or no, and it’s as stressful as when your boss requests something that means your career’s at stake.
BE AUTHENTIC AND STAND UP FOR YOURSELF WITH COMMUNICATION
It’s natural for the world around you to assume you’re life is perfect. Why you’re organized and your house cleans itself. A charismatic nature gets you everything at work and you’re the green grass. If your shy, people then feel you’re a pushover or not as smart as the extrovert. It’s assumptions that are usually wrong. Another crack up, when you’re a stay-at-home mom, the whole world thinks you don’t work.
Communication is one of the best skills anyone can build. So, you’re shy? And you don’t like speaking in public, or explaining too much to anyone. Your life is your life. Right?
Not if you have a family, want friends, and don’t want to be alone.
I’m an extremely private and independent person, with no inhibitions to stand up on the table and give a speach. I could care less if it’s perfect, but even in this brave style of mine, I lacked the skill for years to communicate with family and coworkers.
When your sister-in-law, your boss, a friend, or organizer for the volunteer program decides what is best for you. Perhaps they volunteer you. What do you do? Follow along as a good sport? I did that. I remember family deciding what picnics I went on, what daycare my son would attend and so on. I stood my ground but my mistake was letting my husband speak for me in crucial moments.
Part of proper full scale, all out, way to prioritize you, is you being your own boss. You speak for you, it’s your job to clearly take control.
It doesn’t happen overnight, it’s a whole other course, but you can start with a small area. Focus on that one person, you know who I’m talking about, there is always that person who wants to be you and controll in the family or at work. Start there with small tiny things. It’s pretty easty to predict their moves, so as you’ve learned the idea of puasing, so is the idea of speaking up. Prepare ahead of time how you will face this one person with a small thing and it will grow.
POWERFUL WAYS TO SPEAK UP FOR YOURSELF
It’s grueling for some people to express themselves openly and straightforwardly honest. Some feel it’s rude, intrusive, even when it’s not aggressively done. I can’t tell you how many times, people say to me, “Wow, I can’t beleive you said that. ” And generally it’s not a response to anything negative, it’s simply that I speak out freely.
When you practice honesty, you will find doors open up. People will respond immediately. It’s a giant weight off your back to speak up for yourself. It’s better than standing quietly passing around fake smiles to everyone. When you are honest, your smiles are different. Confidence changes everything about your demeanor. Once you begin speaking out, and it becomes a habit of kindness, not one of defense or anger, aggressive mantras that offend others, you will find people want to hear what you have to say. You find people begin asking you before they decide for you.
- Start small. Even the smallest thing will get the ball rolling.
- Pause before answering as you do for prioritizing your time. This helps relax you.
- Prepare ahead of time. We all know who will be bothering us at work, in the family, friends.
- Ask questions. If you don’t have any, think of some. I’ve seen it over and over in my life, reserved people don’t ask, they are so used to not participating they don’t even try to formulate a question.
- Practice as much as possible. When the cashier at the grocery store asks if you found everything you wanted, don’t lie. “Thanks for asking, I didn’t, but I’m fine.” Or if you didn’t find something you wanted, say so. It’s amazing how great it feels when someone listens and runs to get that bunch of organic cilantro you couldn’t find. People want to help.