I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what I want to “be”.
(Yes; I’m 32 years old. Still haven’t totally nailed that one down yet. #dontjudgeme #Ihavetime)
I really just want something to tell people when I meet them for the first time. And it’d be great if I could get an “Oh wow! That’s awesome!” reaction when I do.
But I’ve been stuck trying to figure out what that should be.
I love to write. Should I be a writer?
I love to sing and create music. Should I be a musician?
I love to help people heal. Should I be a surgeon? A nurse? A therapist? A coach?
I love to teach. Should I be a teacher?
As I’ve thought about these (and many, many other) options, none of them have felt quite right.
This morning, I think I figured out why.
I’ve been asking the wrong question.
The question is not “what do I want to be?”. It’s “who do I want to be?”.
As I sat here and answered that question instead, the answer flowed out of me like water. I know with 100% clarity who I want to be. I know if I center on that, then the “doing” parts will come just as freely.
What question are you stuck on?
There’s not a whole lot of commentary required for this post…just WATCH. Take notes. We have the opportunity to be leaders in the 3rd Women’s Revolution, and we can create incredible change in the world.
My favorite quotes and takeaways: (click to tweet!)
- “Redefine success. Because the world you’re headed into desperately needs it. And because you’re up to it. ” -Arianna Huffington
- “Don’t just take your place at the top of the world. Change the world.” -Arianna Huffington
- “You can complete a project by dropping it.” -Arianna Huffington
- “Change the channel. You are in charge of the clicker.” Elli Stassinopoulos
- “Money and power by themselves are like a two-legged stool. You eventually you are going to topple over. And more and more people, very successful people, are toppling over every day.” – Arianna Huffington
- “Success the way we’ve defined it is no longer sustainable. It’s not sustainable for human beings; it’s not sustainable for the planet.” -Arianna Huffington
- “What is missing is not IQ; it’s wisdom.” -Arianna Huffington
For a long time, my work-life balance was … well … less like balance and more like 2 hyper 6-year-olds on a teeter totter (you know when the one at the bottom launches up with so much gusto that the other one slams to the ground, and then does the same in return? Yeah. That was work-life “balance” for me.).
While I haven’t achieved perfect work-life balance (let’s be honest; this is most likely an “journey > destination” adventure), here are 6 DOs and DON’Ts that I’ve learned in my now 9 years(!) of working from home:
- Remember there will be times when you feel completely off-balance.
Shaming yourself or going to the other extreme will only make it worse. Just pick 1 thing to help you ease your way back on track.
- Create structure.
Yes, you work from home, which allows for total flexibility. That doesn’t mean that every day should be totally flexible. Figure out what your personality needs in terms of schedule, habits, and environment, and take the initiative to put that structure in place.
- Know your “must-do” tasks.
This goes for both work and life. Possibilities include:
– Process email
– Check in with your team
– Make progress on your key project
– Manage social media
– Play with each child 1-on-1 for 15 minutes each day
– Pray, meditate, and/or read scripture or other inspirational text
– Prep & cook meals
- Use your calendar.
Block out time to complete your must-do tasks and be laser-focused during those blocks. And pick times when you’ll start and finish your work day each day.
- CLOSE THE INBOX.
Pick 2 times per day that you will process email (3 if you HAVE to)
- Learn the art of “parallel processing”.
Pair 2 things to do at the same time: one high-focus activity and one that doesn’t require your focus (i.e. listen to TED talks, podcasts, or audio books while doing dishes or folding laundry). This will allow you to get more accomplished while attending to your personal or professional development.
NOTE: do NOT pair 2 high-focus activities. This will lead to rapid burnout and intense frustration. #triedthatonce
- Process email from the bathroom.
(You know you’ve done it!)
- Squeeze work into every possible crack in your day.
Know your “must-do” tasks and, when they are complete, call it “enough” and close.the.laptop.
- Book back-to-back meetings.
Allow yourself a 15-minute cushion to breathe, get a drink of water, use the bathroom (without processing email! …see above), and/or get some fresh air.
- Pride yourself in being “busy”.
“Busy” does not equal “important” or “successful”. (learned that one the hard way.) Life’s too short to jam it so full that there’s no room for joy. If you’re feeling tightness in your chest, rushing from meeting to meeting, regularly staying up late to make deadlines, and scarfing down lunch with one hand while typing with the other, there’s a better life available to you if you choose it. So choose it.
- Forget your physical well-being.
Get enough sleep. Drink plenty of water. Eat nutritious meals and snacks. Do some sort of exercise daily. Make this a MUST in your life, as it affects everything.
- Lose perspective.
The thing to remember about work-life balance is that the “work” side of it is very rarely life-or-death (exceptions: firefighters, medical professionals, military, police). When your work perspective is off, your life perspective is going to be off. Determine what’s most important to you on the “life” side and focus on that as you make decisions for the “work” side.
What are your work-at-home DOs and DON’Ts for life balance? Please share in the comments…I’d love to add to my list!
On Friday, I sat in the hospital waiting room and typed a very honest post about feeling scared and weak.
I learned a very important lesson this weekend.
I wish I could say that this was the first time I learned it, but I guess some lessons take repeating to make them stick.
(especially with this girl here)
First, an update. Mikayla is doing remarkably well. She came home Saturday morning and is already back to a normal diet and moving around quite a bit (even played a modified game of hide-and-seek last night). I’m so grateful for her health and for the lesson that came with this experience.
When I was feeling so scared and weak on Friday, it was because I was doing strength the wrong way.
I was doing it alone.
No wonder I was feeling helpless!
We had prayed with Mikayla that morning (and throughout the week preceding the surgery), but somehow I forgot to use that power of prayer to help me.
As she was coming out of anesthesia, I said a prayer of gratitude in my heart and it suddenly hit me.
I had been praying for Mikayla’s health and safety, but I hadn’t been praying for my own comfort.
It could have been a lot easier to wait if only I had remembered that I didn’t have to wait alone.
God is there whenever we need him. Our Savior has born our burdens. The Holy Ghost has the power to comfort us in the scariest times.
Or we can be afraid and alone.
It’s a choice.
My daughter is having surgery right now.
On the outside I’m a calm and collected mom, but on the inside I’m kiiiind of a mess.
The surgery isn’t anything complicated, and things should go just fine.
But man. It’s not easy to sit here and wait.
I think one of the hardest things about being a mom is the need to be strong when you feel like your courage is the size of a pea.
A big part of me is still just a little girl who just wants to go in her room and cry right now.
I know the hard things are what help us grow.
…Is it bad that sometimes I don’t want to grow?
I get frustrated with myself for not growing as quickly as I want to, but at moments like this I want to be as small as possible and not have anything to worry about.
That’s the crappy thing about loving people. It’s the hard part about opening ourselves to relationships. It’s the sting we all fear.
In my life, I’ve mastered the art of keeping people at arm’s length. I’m friendly and warm, but I haven’t let many people in. Even as a mom, It has taken me a long time to let my guard down completely because I’m terrified of losing people.
I know what it feels like. And I hate it.
But she’s worth opening up to. She’s worth being strong for. Loving her helps growth be a little easier. (and a lot more fun)
So, strong it is.
…at least until it’s time for that good cry when this is over.
Getting my thoughts out has been helpful. Thanks for reading all of this.
“Culture is the heart of whether you’re going to get to where you want to go.” -Seth Godin
The Leadership Workshop continues! I’ve been making slight adjustments to the blog, and I’m having a lot of fun seeing it unfold.
Today was Lecture 5, a video about creating culture as a leader. I hadn’t given culture much thought, other than thinking companies with unique culture sounded awesome to work for (Amazon, Google, etc).
This lecture addressed culture from a moral perspective, and it got me thinking about the kind of culture I want to create in this community.
Here are my Qs&As for this lesson.
- What does it mean to do the right thing even when there’s a popular shortcut?
It means that you have a solid definition of what’s right for you. You’re clear on your “why”, and you have the courage to stand for it, even if it means that it takes longer or that you have to stand alone.
- Consider the journey that you and your team are on. Do the ends justify the means? Which means? What’s right and where do you draw the line? Does everyone in your culture draw the line in the same place?
I’m on a few teams right now. The first that comes to mind is my church team, a group of 5 women leaders and about 15 teenage girls. We’re responsible for helping the girls grow in gospel knowledge & testimony, confidence, leadership skills, and relationships with their families. It’s challenging, but we work well together as leaders. Our ultimate goal is to help each girl understand her worth and feel the love of God in her life. The temptation is to look at the group of girls as a whole and deliver generic lessons that are watered down and apply vaguely to everyone. But, because each girl is at a different point in her journey (and each comes from a different family background), the right thing for our group is to take the time to get to know each girl and understand her individual needs and goals so we can custom-tailor our teaching. Every team member understands this, and – while challenging – it’s showing us the benefit of doing things the “right way”. It takes a lot of time and energy but we trust that doing it this way will help us be more successful in the long run.
- What sort of control are you willing to give up to get closer to your goal?
This one’s been a hard one for me because I don’t love giving up control. However, I’ve found that I am better able to serve when I share control and more minor decision making with my fellow leaders instead of trying to hold everything by myself. Sometimes it works best for me to step back and listen and I’m learning to be okay with that.
There are plenty of things about this journey that might not work.
- Maybe no one will find this blog.
- Or the ones who do may think it’s stupid.
…or poorly designed.
…or see where I am and run the other direction because they think I’m crazy for trying.
- People may read my experiences and think I made a wrong choice.
- I might not feel like posting every day.
- I may run out of things to say.
- People might want to only hear from an “expert”
Describing what might not work is actually really helpful for me. Yes, some of these are valid concerns.
It would stink if no one came to my party.
It would be hard to put time into something and have it not be well-received.
It’s going to be challenging to post every day.
I’m definitely not an expert.
But I still want to do it!
That’s a great sign!
I can guarantee that at least 1 person will need what I have to say and part of her life will be changed by it.
I can say this with confidence because that person — even if the only person — is me.
Just by showing up, I’m growing.
By taking the risk of criticism or rejection, I’m facing one of my biggest fears and gradually changing for the better.
This blog isn’t an “expert’s advice” blog. This is an account of a journey.
It’s okay if I’m not the expert. I’m here to learn and to share what stands out to me.
I’m excited to be going through Seth Godin’s Leadership Workshop (presented by Acumen).
(if you haven’t heard of Seth Godin, you HAVE to follow his blog. Short, thought-provoking posts every morning in your inbox.)
A large part of the workshop is responding to writing prompts somewhere we can link to. I’ve been planning to start this blog for AGES, so I thought this would be the perfect fit. I’d love to hear your thoughts in response.
- Instead of pointing to a leader, outline a moment when someone you respect engaged in leadership.
For the past year, I’ve had a the privilege of serving a large group of female leaders in business. It’s been fascinating to watch the way they lead. In particular, the lead co-chair was incredibly crisp and clear in her communication, while at the same time very warm and used her sense of humor to lighten difficult situations and relieve hard feelings.
- Next, describe a moment when you chose to lead. How is it different from the rest of the time, when you are merely managing?
In my role at church right now, I’m in charge of the Young Women organization (girls ages 12-18). This has been a major stretching experience for me, as in the past I have been a manager (or a “check stuff off of the to do list” girl). There was a specific instance when I felt like sitting back and simply managing/reacting to a conflict, but took the leadership role and addressed the conflict head-on. It was nerve-wracking, but it felt amazing when it was resolved, as the outcome was so much better for all parties involved.
- Do you agree that leadership is a choice?
Absolutely. Although until just recently, I’ve sort of waited for a permission slip or someone to tell me it’s my turn to lead.
- Leadership is about making change. A change that might not work. If you do the work alone, you’re an artist. If you get other people to do it with you, you’re a leader. Going forward, then, what is the change you’re trying to make?
I’m trying to change the way moms look at their motherhood role by inspiring leadership instead of “survival”. I’m trying to live a life in which I use fear to help me make an impact instead of hiding and playing small.