As I write this I am prepping to leave for a meeting in New York in the morning and coming off a long weekend trip to Texas to attend a conference, which capped off a week of lots of work, appointments, meetings, blogging and truly exhausting personal obligations. Oh yeah, and that whole “book” thing. I am bone tired; weary to the point of collapse and yet there is an voice in my head saying “You are not doing enough. Try harder.” Have you ever heard that voice? I bet you have.
As women I think we have it pretty tough. I think we are fierce competitors, more-so then men in many ways, and we are easily and often overlooking our health in order to maintain crazy schedules, our families, friendships and bodies. I feel there is this obtuse goal of becoming the impossibly perfect woman who has a demanding full time job, is a wonderfully engaged mother and wife, amazing cook (gluten/sugar/dairy free of course), attends five spin/barre/yoga/pilates classes a week, sleeps 8 hours, voluteers for the greater good and is dressed to the nines and, while doing so, is perfectly relaxed. Namaste.
But no one can do all that (with out a team of full time personal assistants and nannies, at least). In this Lean In era though, the pressure to do more and be more is everywhere. I don’t even take time to draw in full breaths never mind meditate. It’s not a sustainable pace of life and I am starting to feel like as a gender, we need to both lean in as well as know when to “lean back”. I came across this article from the Washington Post about just this- the working woman (that includes you stay at home Moms) and her inability to stop and take in life’s true joys because we’re trying to do too much. This quote in particular sums it up quite perfectly:
Americans work around the clock to be a success, wearing exhaustion like a badge of honor. In the process, they miss a lot of important stuff. Success is less about money and more about valuing wisdom and wonder, giving to others and well-being.
I’ve totally felt like there are other bloggers, writers and designers out there working until 1 a.m. and felt guilty when I turn in at 9:30 for bed. I’ve berated myself for not more fiercely going after new, bigger business when I already have a wait list. Just as I’m sure there are others who feel the need to stay in the office until 9pm and still get up for a 6 am run instead of sleeping in an extra hour, or moms who feel they need to produce some incredible Pinterest-sourced kids activities when really all they need is to put them in front of a Disney movie for a little and sit down with a magazine. There is this guilt associated with taking a break, this feeling that others aren’t and so you shouldn’t either. But in reality what we need to do is feel proud of what we’ve accomplished, keep working hard (of course) but also balance that work with more healthy behavior. For example, I’ve stopped doing yoga in favor of working more. I’m not taking that time to get myself off the grid anymore and it’s showing now. I feel out of shape, sluggish and so much more stressed. And while I know that my career and life are very blessed, that doesn’t mean I don’t feel broken from the pressure and pace sometimes.
So I’m asking you if you have felt this pressure and what you’ve done to try to get off the hamster wheel? For those working busy jobs, how do you give yourself permission to check out? And of course when you’re a Mom there are no breaks until the kids are asleep or the babysitter shows up (this video perfectly explains that), but perhaps there’s a technique you’ve developed that helps you relax a little? I’d love to hear what YOU do to give yourself a break and enjoy your life’s little details more and turn this comments section into a little tip list for all those reading. Or perhaps a forum to vent, because sometimes a nice little venting session is the best gift you can give yourself. :)