Balance is the new holy grail for many of us, as our lives only seem to get busier by the day. The needs of work, family, friends and everyone else in our lives just keeps piling on to an ever lengthening ‘to do’ list, and the idea of fleeing to a deserted island is looking more and more appealing. There is no break in the day, no end to the emails/text/voicemails, and the time that most people can truly devote to themselves can be measured in minutes per day. All of this leaves us feeling exhausted and frustrated, with no idea of how to end the downward spiral.
The good news is that things can get better. The bad news is you probably won’t like the answer because, as one of my favorite authors, Cheryl Richardson, has said many times, “no one is coming to save you’. So, it’s up to you to save yourself.
For many of us trapped in the cycle of doing too much, we default to trying to do everything we’re doing more efficiently or ‘multi-taking’. Maybe you get up an hour earlier to finish that report for work while you do a load of laundry or you put off that long avoided dentist appointment so that you can take the kids to soccer when someone else cancels at the last minute. This may work for a while, but at some point, Mt. You will erupt, and I wouldn’t want to be the villagers scurrying away in the path of your fiery wrath.
So that leaves you with two real options. One, do less. This is absolutely the one thing everyone should do. We all take on far more than we should, or really want to. Often, we do it because we don’t want to disappoint someone, or even more often, our overdeveloped guilt muscles push us into saying ‘yes’ when we really want to say ‘no’. Most of us could do with eliminating a third to half of the things on our plate. A scary thought to most of you (I can virtually hear the gasps of horror), but it’s reality.
The second option is to ask for help, which is just a way to nudge option one along. Many of us have been conditioned not only to be independent, but ‘anti-dependent’. If you find yourself downplaying your needs rather than allowing yourself to be vulnerable enough to ask for help and support, doing things for others that you don’t even do for yourself or feeling uncomfortable at even the idea of asking for help, then I’m talking to you. Being anti-dependent will eventually sap all the joy out of your life. It’s nothing short of life threatening because guess what, there’s no prize at the end for the person who did the most for everyone but themselves.
With that scary thought in mind, this week’s challenge is for all the anti-dependent people out there – and yes, I’m talking to you – to find some area of your life where you can ask someone for help or support. It doesn’t mean you have to go on strike from the carpool list or make some other drastic change. Find something small that doesn’t trip all your guilt triggers and start there. If you’re not sure where to start, find someone who can help support you in coming up with a plan. Make this the day when you start to make your life matter to you.