A constant challenge as a professional mother is finding that perfect balance where you feel happy with your life and release the guilt about everything you didn’t do.
I don’t know about you, but for me, days fly by. There never seem to be enough hours to get everything done!
I finally discovered a formula that works for me, sometimes imperfectly – but works. This formula may work for some of you, but probably not all of you. And perhaps next year this formula will need to be tweaked again, because things will have changed. I will have grown and changed (or at least, that’s what I hope).
But for now, I have found something that propels me forward. And with which I have less feelings of “guilt”.
And I was feeling guilty last week. Really. Guilty.
If you’d asked me, I would have told you that I had a terrible week. I wasn’t centered and grounded. I wasn’t on track. And I was failing miserably (I had a cold which I looked after badly, and which migrated into my chest. I ended up going to get treatment 3 days!). There was not a single day in which I finished my to do list!
But then, on Saturday, I was looking back on my week and I was pleasantly surprised:
Somehow, in the midst of it all, feeling like I was not getting anything done, I managed to take care of all the important things in my life…
- a moment to do something from Mum & Dad
- time out for a special moment with my daughter
- reading (nothing like the doctor’s for some reading time)
- dedicated time to personal growth
- exercise (before I started feeling bad)
- meditated and time in nature
- alone time & self-care
- time with friends
- contributed to others (well, that admittedly was on Sunday, but I knew Saturday I had that last piece in the bag just by showing up Sunday to my volunteering)
So, I sat back down and had another look at this “terrible week”.
Yes, there were some things on my “to do” list that did not get done.
But I gave myself a pat on the back! In spite of it all, I still somehow managed to take care of myself and the most important people in my life!
So, I want to introduce you to my yearly, monthly, weekly & daily planner:
It’s the “Find your Happy planner” by Rhonda Zarate. I’ve even ordered a few on Amazon for friends, because I think it’s such a great gift.
I’ve had a lot of different planners over the years, and some have worked better than others. Most, however, somewhere along the way have been left to die a lonely death of oblivion… sometimes in April, other ones in September. Most never seem to make it through the year.
This one, however, I started in November 2017.
That’s right: I didn’t start it on January 1st.
I started it in November 2017… because you can simply choose which month to start with, and I had just attended the Little Black Dress “Starting Over” retreat the first week of November, and this seemed just perfect to kick off the “starting over“.
So, day one of starting over was about November 7th or so.
And I started fresh, preparing for myself a new Vision Board (within the planner – it goes with you everywhere you go), choosing words to motivate and center me throughout the week, and looking at what was important to me.
There are things about the planner that I don’t use as intended – she has a page for “lists”, that I simply use as my monthly vision board!
That’s a really quick and easy visual of “to do this month” and “Don’t miss this!”
She has a page for your monthly finances. I don’t use that one as intended either. Admission: That page is usually covered over with images, quotes, memes and other things that I find during the month that I want somewhere to “stick”. That becomes my “oh, let’s stick that here“. I look at that page all month long – because it’s face to face with my monthly vision board.
She has a page for journalling – that’s usually covered with something fabulous I’ve created after a Mastermind or coaching session! One page has my Passion Test results and markers on it. Another page actually has journal notes. Another journal page has my 2018 Manifestation list. One has my April vision board, because I’d used the list page for something else!
So, you can see everything that I don’t use my planner for… but that’s not really the reason that I’m sharing all of this with you! The reason I’m sharing this with you is because I’m using the ________ planner!
I don’t think it really matters WHICH planner you have: the million dollar question is – “are you making it work for you?” As you can see from my “terrible” last week – the planner is working for me! It kept me on track to remember what I had said was important to me!
This poor planner had to get a plastic film cover put on it to hold it together, so that it could get thrown into my purse! Some of you will relate with this: I carry around with me way more pens that I need, because I love noting in it with different colours (and it has pages for doodling and colouring in! Who doesn’t need colouring pages sometimes?).
I do the hard work:
- every quarter I prepare a vision board (goes inside the planner) of what I want to achieve in the next 3 months and what the markers are for those achievements
- each end-of-month I prepare a new “action vision board” to keep my month on track with what I want to achieve during the following month – steps that will take me to completion – chosen from the markers of my passion test and the quarterly vision board
- I set each week a plan of 4-5 things I “must” complete that week to stay on track with the goals.
- When I’m ready (usually Monday), I set my daily schedules – what needs to be done which day…
Have another look at “My balanced heart” that shows up each week in the planner:
- Kids & Pets
- Writing (well, that did say spouse, but since I’m a single mother; I swapped that one out!)
Each week, when I’m looking at and planning that schedule, if I don’t already have a lunch or coffee scheduled with a friend – I decide which friend I will catch up with that week, and reach out. Sometimes that’s an hour’s skype call with Vikki in London, but more often than not it’s that AND a face-to-face with someone in Panama City.
If I don’t have something special to do with my daughter during the week, then I start to think about what we might do together that will be special.
I plan what I’m going to do for family – phone call? post card? order a book online? do an online grocery shop to be delivered to their door? It doesn’t have to be anything out of the ordinary – just that each week I am reaching out to them to say “I love you”.
It’s taken me six months to get to the stage where I am consistently having a “balanced heart” every week. At the beginning, if I managed to focus on 4 or 5 areas, I was doing pretty well.
None of this means that I am doing any of this perfectly! It doesn’t mean that I am working out 4 times a week, or that I am meditating every single morning!
But I am learning that less is more!
That sometimes you just have to let perfeccionism go. That you have to settle for completing the most important things, and then accepting that you gave it your best shot.
And this little tool, reminds me constantly of what is important in my life – that will bring me happiness in each day and also long-term happiness: taking care of the important people in my life, including myself!
When I look at this “balanced heart” – self-care, spiritual well-being, exercise – that’s all about looking after self! Spending time with MY friends (rather than with kids events or church events) – that’s about my well-being. It’s making sure that the glass is full to be able to give to others.
If there is one thing I would change about this heart, it would be to add in one section to say that I did one thing towards my goals each week. For me, that was easy – since I don’t have a spouse to worry about at the moment, I simply replaced that section with part of my goals. Most of the other parts of my goals are covered already: meditation, exercise, reading & growing.
I learned these 6 months to let go – mostly, to let go of the guilt.
There are things that I didn’t make time to do. I chose to do something else with my time. And as I learn to live with the results of those choices, I feel more fulfilled.
Some weeks, like last week, I still feel like “I failed”. But then I look at the results and realise: I made time for the important things in life.
So I’m calling last – sick-as-a-dog -week a victory!
My heart was imperfectly balanced! I took care of the bigs things and I moved things forward: I was where I should be. And I know that this week will simply be better because of that!
In the middle of all that – I found my happy!