You Can Have It All, Just Maybe Not All At Once
Dear, Entreprenistas. I’ve been reflecting a lot this month on a quote I heard Oprah say once, ‘You can have everything--just not all at once.’ Why have I been reflecting on this concept you might ask? Or maybe you don’t care, but either way, I’m going to tell you...you’re welcome in advance. 😜
I’m about one-week into changing my career direction. For the last five years I’ve owned my own marketing firm, and while it’s been super challenging and stressful at times, it’s also been amazingly flexible and has allowed me to do the ‘mom things’ and ‘working woman things’ simultaneously! See you’re probably reading this and thinking, what a gig! Why change it up? But here’s the deal; the thing they don’t tell you before launching a business or becoming a parent is that you Will. Never. Be. Able. To. Turn. It. Off! 🙈
It was in the midst of a moment where I couldn’t turn off the ‘mom instinct’ and ‘business owner’ instinct that I was reminded of something profound. It’s a piece of advice one of my professors shared with me in my twenties when I was trying to work two jobs, go to school full time, and launch a wedding planning business--yes, I was a serial entrepreneur back then too. I had just received a ‘C’ on one of my papers and went to her office hours with the hope of getting a redo or a least an explanation. I had been working my ass off and wanted to get an ‘A.’ Of course, at that time I was also notably entitled--thank you ‘No Child Left Behind,’ and didn’t really get the meaning of putting in the full effort. But my professor took the time to meet with me, and her main point of feedback after I had lamented about my two jobs and fledgling entrepreneurial effort was this; “Lis, you can have all of these things--work, passions, school--but you can’t have them all at once. What you need to do is decide if school, work or your other venture is the more important thing, and focus on that."
It wasn’t like I hadn’t heard this before (I am an Oprah fan after all), and I’ve undoubtedly heard this same advice since, but at the time it was like a light bulb turned on, and I realized...I wasn’t doing anything well because I was DOING WAY TOO MUCH! 💡
A similar epiphany came to me about nine months ago when I realized that I couldn’t be a mother to my kiddos and a mother to my business, and a blogger, and an outdoor enthusiast, plus a workout fanatic, etc., etc. I needed to choose one (or two at the most...okay three...I’m terrible at focusing on one thing 😉) to concentrate on, and surrender to what needed to be removed.
So yes, the BIG NEWS is that I am giving up my firm--Summary Content Marketing--to enter a new professional phase where I am at work when I am at work, and at home when I am at home--and I couldn’t be happier. Plus, I will of course still be writing these blog posts. So there’s that. 🙌
Anyhoo, here are a few things to consider when you realize you are overloaded, unfocused and need to choose a clear life-path, and/or take something off your plate.
What do you HAVE to do?
This may seem simplistic, but understanding what you HAVE to do, versus what you WANT to do is sometimes the first step in determining what to remove from your day-to-day and what to keep. It’s much easier to move forward with an audit of what your personal capacity is once you have a list of ‘need to dos’ versus ‘want to dos.’ Then start prioritizing your list! Soon you’ll be on the way to a more straightforward and more manageable schedule.
Will waiting help?
A mentor once told me, “if you don’t know, just wait.” For me, this advice has proven super necessary in times of internal conflict. I tend to be a ‘leap-before-you-look-er,’ and there are moments when acting too fast has put me in a place of greater struggle versus solving a problem.
Beware:🚨 Don’t allow yourself to wait beyond a logical point to decide how, where and when to make professional or personal changes in your life. At least for me, there has always been a precise moment when I really DO know what needs to be done. When I have waited too long to make significant changes or decisions for my well being, I’ve always regretted it.
Who will be affected?
Whether it be your children, your spouse, a family member, your dog or another valued person in your life; when you come to a crossroads and must decide what to keep allowing into your world and what to remove, take into consideration who will be affected.
Granted, there are things we cannot remove from our day-to-day no matter how much we might want to, but there are also a lot of things we ‘choose,’ and these are the things I’m talking about.
If you’re thinking of taking on another client, accept a job, volunteer at a new organization or take on a new hobby, think about who your decision will affect. One of the most significant and most unexpected ways to sabotage your relationships, happiness, and success is not having your ‘people’ on-board and/or in support of your actions. You know who your people are. Being respectful of their needs will get you to your goals, dreams and that elusive happiness-sweet-spot quicker than not. PS this doesn't mean you should be a pushover. Just a considerate human.
What’s the best case scenario?
Be your own best cheerleader! If you’re in a position where life has delivered so many wonderful things that you just can’t keep up with what’s on your plate, first take a moment of gratitude for your marvelous fortune. Then, get down to the nitty-gritty of streamlining your life. But most importantly, think about what would be the best case scenario for you! Does best-case mean the same thing to all of us? Of course not! But you know what makes you innately happy. If it's having more on your plate and less free time, do that. Or if you prefer having a specific and singular focus on one thing at a time--lean into your strength and what feels right to you. If you’ve just been offered a fantastic job, but feel underqualified, don’t let your fear guide your decision making. Think best case scenario first--you are qualified and in fact will kick ass--so pump yourself up!
What’s the worst case scenario?
As much as being a cheerleader for your own life is outstanding and needed, there is also a lot of benefit in thinking through the worst case scenario. In Fact, sometimes thinking through the worst possible pie-in-your-face outcome actually has the opposite effect. Think, telling your kiddo to ‘absolutely, positively NOT smile' for the picture you’re trying to take...90% of the time they’re gonna smile. The same is true for us adults--as smart as you think you are--there are times when a little reverse psychology is just what you need! It may convince you to proceed with your plan, for example, to launch a business or leave your job for a better one, because at the end of the day the worst case scenario is not all that bad. Woohoo! 🙌
Be aware that if the worst case scenario is entirely NOT something you can let happen in your life, you may want to rethink your big decision. Just saying.
What really makes you happy?
For me, happiness comes from having a balance between work and life. Finding enough time each day to really engage with my kiddos, getting to write daily, and taking an opportunity to get outside and/or go to a workout class. I also feel most satisfied when I am able to spend one-on-one time with my husband and girlfriends each week. If these buckets are checked off, I’m pretty much a happy camper, regardless of the other variables in my life. What makes you happy on a daily, weekly and monthly basis? See, the exciting thing about asking yourself this question, and then REALLY taking the time to write down a list of items, is that you might surprise yourself. For example, I always thought I knew what made me happy, but what I realized when I sat down and wrote out an actual list--about nine months ago--is that I had been putting the wrong emphasis on the wrong things! I kept thinking that if I could keep my consulting firm open, I’d be happy--but it was making me emotionally unhappy on a weekly basis. I figured if I had MORE time, not QUALITY time with my kiddos it would make me (and them) happier. But the quality of the time you spend with people you love is sooo much more impactful than the quantity. Just food for thought as you execute this exercise for yourself. PS here’s a lovely post on making big decisions to help you with this process.
What makes you super unhappy?
A good example: About a year ago I was asked to be on three nonprofit boards (and/or committees) at around the same time. At first, I almost accepted all the opportunities, but then I remembered that two years earlier I had done just that for another set of nonprofit organizations, and while I’m super passionate about giving back to the community, what makes me the most unhappy is when I’ve spread myself too thin and can't deliver. So at this moment, I sat down and weighed the impact I could have in the different organizations and decided to say ‘yes’ to just one position, instead of all three. For each of us women, there is a unique set of variables in our lives and beings that must be considered. I bet right now you’re thinking about the things that make you categorically unhappy. You need to honor these and make sure you’re NOT getting into a situation where the expectations placed on you will force you into your ‘unhappy place.'
The point of all this? If we circle back to what inspired this post, it’s CHANGE. Whether forced or chosen, making a meaningful change in life--professionally or personally or both is super scary and can cause a lot of sleepless nights and anxiety about the future. I just let go of my consulting business to accept a unique corporate position, but the change involved has been hard for me to digest. But at the end of the day, if you remember that life has phases, and you can have all the things you want, desire and need--just maybe not all at once--you’ll likely be a lot more satisfied with, and able to enjoy the wonderful and messy place you’re in right now! 🙆
Hey, friends! 🙋Did this post help you in some way to make a decision? Tell us in the comments!
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