We live in a society where doing more, being more, having more is lauded … I lived that life for a long time—and did it at such a frenzy and a pace that I never had time to take a step back and look at whether being Superwoman to everyone and everything did anything for ME? The answer it did not.
While I did everything everyone ever asked of me (I never said no. I put out a magazine every month, oversaw the web site, went to lunches, outside talks, did volunteer efforts…ran from morning to night)—with much ohs and ahs “you do so much!”—inside I was slowly dying. I never did anything for myself, had no hobbies, never had time to pursue things I was interested in learning about, and never had much time for my family.
In a nutshell, I was so caught up in the myth of being a Superwoman that I never stopped to think what living that myth—day in and day out—was for doing for my soul.
Sure, I loved the work I did…but the pace at which so many of us work today is unparalleled. Work defines our life, who we are, our value in life. It sucks up our identity during the week (and now, the way jobs are, on the weekends and during every vacation).
So in taking a step back, I’ve realized I can no longer be Superwoman. And I don’t want to be. I want to work, but I want to have time to do other things important to living a fulfilled and happy life. (As that old cliche goes: no one ever said on their deathbed that they wished they had worked more!) And I’m proud that I’ve finally made this life-changing discovery. It only took me 41 years…
If you are starting to feel the way I did, here are a few things you can do:
1) Re-assess your work life. Can you shut down your computer at the same time every night—no excuses—or are you the type of person (as I was) who would continue to do more and more, leaving after only you completed everyone’s requests? You may find that you can easily achieve more work-life balance by putting limits on your time. “I leave at 6 every night”. Sure some people may think that you’re not motivated, but in truth, it’s those people who are probably most miserable in life. And do you really care what they think?
2) Cut off e-mail at a certain time every day. And do not check it beyond that point. We live in a 24/7 society where if a boss e-mails you at 10, you’re expected to respond. Sure, you might think: I have to, if I want to get ahead. But ask yourself: is getting ahead at the expense of you really worth it? There’s that old cliche: if you give an inch, they’ll take a mile. And this is truth with setting (or not setting) hard-and-fast limits at work.
3) Do the things you want to do now. Do not put them off. If you want to train for a triathlon, start a plan today. If you want to take a photography course, sign up for a class. Doing more things in your life that you want to do will take the emphasis off work—so you’ll start to live a happier, more fulfilled life.
4) If you’re not happy in your job, look for another one. Finding a new one that offers you more work-life balance may not happen overnight, but moving toward that goal will give you more energy and make you feel more fulfilled.
And remember: you will ever never regret having more time for you…