If you’re juggling a career, a family, a personal life and a home – you probably know what I mean. Women are often amazing at multi-tasking. Sometimes, to our own detriment.
How is that a bad thing? We can put pressure on ourselves that we wouldn’t dream of putting on other people. In our desire to prove ourselves in our job or business, we often go the extra mile, taking far too heavy a workload on ourselves, picking up the difficult stuff, delivering the impossible on sheer force of will. We try to be the perfect mom and always be there for our kids, whether it’s baking cookies or making the school sports day (often disheveled and red-faced after a frantic dash from our last meeting). We try to make time for our partners, friends and families. We do our best to keep the house immaculate – according to psychology studies, even when we’re not the only one living there and we share the workload, it still feels like our responsibility if there’s something to tidy or pick up and nobody else has done it. And finally, in the little bit of our schedules we have left, we try to cram in the hair appointment or the gym workouts, so that we’ll still look our best.
I know you can do it. I’ve done it myself. But the body and the mind will only take so much abuse – something has to give. And what gives is often your stress levels, your health, your ability to relax. I speak to far too many women who’ve done it all for too long, and now they just can’t do it any more. Either that, or they’re still doing it, and they’re unhappy, exhausted and burned out.
I can’t provide you with a miracle solution, because there isn’t one. What I can do is advise you to step back, to take a little time out to assess your priorities and to work out the things in your days that you really need to do. And in addition to that, look at how you’re running your career, your business and your life, and work out if there are things in there that you need to be delegating or requesting assistance with.
The main difference I noticed when coaching both men and women in the workplace is that guys are less hesitant to ask when they need help with something. They’re quicker to come forward to shout about their skills and their big wins. And they’re faster to raise their voices in a debate, and louder in putting forward their arguments. What this means is that they get more help, they get more recognition, and they get more opportunities. Does that mean that women are any less capable? Not at all. What it does mean is that we’re still saddled with some of the social gender stereotypes we’ve tried so hard to throw off over the last few decades.
Some of us get round this by behaving like men at work or in our business lives. For those to whom this comes naturally, that’s fine. But if it doesn’t – if you’re forcing it to get noticed – it’s going to impact you in your personal life, because that’s hard to switch off. Some of us try to do whatever’s thrown at us, in the hope that it will get us the reward we want. Sadly, what it usually gets is even more thrown in our direction, until we really have too much to cope with. And some of us back down and stay quiet – and miss out on the opportunities we deserve because we’re not persistent enough in drawing attention to our abilities.
Women have so much to offer in the business world. We have skills and management styles which are hugely beneficial to any company. We need to learn to be comfortable with who we are and how we operate.
We also need to remember that running a home and being a mom is also a full-time job. Would you expect yourself to be able to do two full-time jobs perfectly, if you operated them independent of each other? Give yourself a break. What you’re doing already is amazing. Don’t kick yourself because you can’t always be everything to everyone.
If both of these roles in life is important to you – and if you’ve read this far, they probably are – then you have to allow yourself to integrate them. Take a job role or run your business so that you can still fit in the other things in your life that are important to you. And which of those things is truly important? When you look at the other things in your life, what do you want to keep doing yourself, and what could you get help with?
Some things in your life are important for you to do, and some are not. You’ll know which these are yourself. So be kind to yourself. and allow yourself to take off the pressure. You don’t have to be Superwoman to be the best that you can be.