I know this is self-induced… 100% self-induced. I can’t tell you how many people look at me and wonder “why”. Why is she taking on so much? Why can’t she just slow down? They then move into the “what” phase. What is she looking for? What else will she come up with?
Of course, only my true friends and family ask. But I read those questions in people’s eyes as we casually chat, every day.
Let me be vulnerable for a minute and tell you a little more about myself. I was born and raised in France, the oldest of 5 sisters. From a very young age, my (extremely smart and hard to satisfy) Mom saw potential in me and pushed me to become the best person I could be. I went on to graduate high school at age 16 and become one of the best European golfers, earning an NCAA scholarship in the U.S. By age 22, I had graduated with my M.B.A. and married a wonderful man. I had my first child by the time I was 24, and moved to Switzerland with an 8-week old. At 25, our son was born and we moved to Germany. By age 27, our third child entered the world and we had built a house in a foreign country and fully reimbursed our U.S. home. At 29, we moved back to the US and I started my first online website, and by age 30, we were renovating a new home and I launched this blog. All the whilst, working full-time jobs, competing golf in the German 1st league, learning a new language, mommying, and trying to hold a household together (did you say you’re out of clean underwear?)…
So yes… I get it. “Why“. If I think about it hard enough, I just don’t want to have regrets. The more I take on, the more hours my days seem to have. Am I running 100 mph each and every day? Yes! Do I sometimes feel like it’s getting to be too much? Rarely, but yes… I feed myself from the thrill, I get excited for new ideas and I don’t want to die wondering “what if?”. So I’ll take all of the “why’s” and “what’s” today!
This is how I manage a full-time career (side note: I quit my job 6 weeks ago, but as they asked me to stay on a contract basis, I really don’t feel like I have left yet), running a blog pretty much full-time, managing an online business, 3 kids, a household, side-ventures, traveling, a large family who likes to FaceTime (a lot!), and travel agenting.
1 – Let it go!
Who else just started singing? You must have kids…
The Earth completes a full circle around its axis in 24 hours. That’s a fact.
It is up to you to divide up your time to fit as much or as little as you’d like in those 24 hours. I am a sleeper and don’t do well on the under-sleep/coffee combo. I need my 8 hours of rest, leaving me with 16 precious hours.
As you go about your days, think about what is important to you. What do you want to give your full attention to? Lay down your priorities and what comes at the very bottom can probably be delayed a little.
Your paying job will probably make up the highest number of hours in a typical week day. Spending time with your kids will come second. Exercising might be third and so on. When I think about my days, some things need to be let go of… I hear my friends tell me that they mob their floors weekly, and that’s my “what?” and “why?” moment… I like my house clean and ordered, but that clearly falls down the priority list and while I vacuum once a week, I don’t see the mob too often. Laundry? Every second week. I prefer using the time to home-cook dinner and read a book with my kids. Our home is probably not as shiny as most people’s but that’s how I build my priority list.
Sit down for a minute and if you feel like you want more of something – whether it is me-time, going out with friends, starting a new business, exercising – do less of something else that matters less. I know it is a scary thing to let go, but you’ll soon feel the happiness pouring in from the change. I promise! Give it a try knowing that you can always go back to the old schedule!
2 – Create a couple of rituals
Life can get stressful and we all have times of year when things get crazy. If you’re a working mom or dad, there might be busy seasons at work. If you’re a stay-at-home mom, the Holidays can be scary. We ALL have our times!
To counter the stress and achieve what needs to get done, create rituals. Mine need to be quick but they bring a sense of safety or normalcy to my days. Before going to sleep, I add a few drops of calming essential oils to my diffuser and gently slow my brain down for a few minutes. I enjoy the smell and the gentle noise it diffuses. During times of stress, I turn on a 5-minute guided meditation track (Alexa knows plenty!) and dose off to deep sleep.
Find what works you. Identify one or two rituals to bring a relaxing routine to your life. We all live unbalanced lives and it is important to give our bodies cues of normalcy. It could be a bath, a short run, a warm tea. Just find something that works for you and stick to it as well as you can.
3 – Try to at least balance it over a month
I wish I could balance my schedule on a daily basis but that would be wishful thinking.
I think of each month and have a clear picture in my mind. There are three important buckets in my life: family, work, and exercise. While I don’t balance those three on a daily basis, I try to achieve somewhat of a balance during any given month. If work gets crazy, exercise will need to give in for a couple of weeks, but work will need to give in for exercise and family to get their share of the pie by the end of the month.
Family is the last thing I ever compromise and exercise usually gives in for extra work. While I spend more time working than with my family during the week, they remain my #1 priority and the world around needs to adjust. But I like thinking of my buckets as a three-way scale. I don’t get a pass on the 24-hour deal, and everything needs to align and work out!
4 – Pause, reconsider, take action!
There come times when you’ll be overwhelmed and unhappy. You might even call it a burnout. Before it gets too critical, pause… put everything on a plate and reconsider every aspect of your life. There is no benefit in getting to the point where you loose the fun because you took on too much. If you are an over-achiever, those times will be painful. You will want to push through and get it all done. But remember… you don’t want to regret having spent too little time with your kids when they were little. Or not having traveled more. If 24 hours is no longer enough, the imbalance is no longer perfect and something needs to give in.
I have had to reconsider twice in the last 10 years. And since I really do need to vacuum once a week, something else had to give. When we welcomed our third child, I made the hard decision to quit playing golf competitively. It had always been part of my life and could no longer be a priority. There might be a time in my life when the desire will return and my schedule will allow golf to be a part of my life again. But I had to call it and quit in 2015. It just stopped making sense for our family.
I hit my second “pause and reconsider” moment 2 months ago. And I let this one go too long… but the decision was big, scary, and emotional. After 8 years in the corporate world, I decided to stop working. It took me 6 months to make up my mind, I cried over it and never had to make scarier decision. But I needed more flexibility in my life. The “family” side of the scale was hanging low and I could not let that happen. I work more than full-time today, but am able to do it from home and on my own schedule. While the decision was long coming, I knew it was right and what gave me the courage to call it, was hearing my ever-supportive husband tell me: “I don’t want you to have regrets. Give your blog a year or two. If it doesn’t work out, you’ll find a job again. But you’ll never know what this could have been if you keep spending 45 hours in the office every week.”
Giving up anything is scary. Change is scary. It is very emotional. But follow that gut feeling. Do what you feel is right in your heart, if you know you can sustain it financially.
5 – Embrace it!
This is your life – the one YOU have chosen to live. At the end of the day, choose to be happy! Make the conscious decision to embrace the imbalance. Embrace the “why’s” and “what’s”. They make sense to you and that’s all that matters. Smile! This is YOUR perfect unbalanced life! It is different than your friends’ and the people you look up to, but it is YOURS to be proud of.
My Perfect Unbalanced Life
So yes, my life is crazy but I need it to be. We are all very different and I’m one who needs constant action and challenges. I have too many ideas and don’t want to miss out on experiences – whether living abroad, starting a new business, or adding a child to our crazy family. I am also the one wearing a ponytail every day and no make-up, because it takes too long and I can better invest that time.
Understand YOUR priorities, figure out what works for YOU, and embrace who YOU are and the life YOU are living! I will ask you one thing – when you look back in 10 years, make sure you don’t have regrets!
Photo Credit: Taylor Mickal Photography
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