I’ve been speaking with a number of business colleagues and friends over the past couple of weeks and have come to the conclusion that we’re all failing.
Yes, failing. We all feel it. If not all the time, then at various times of the day, week, month. We really feel the struggle. That drowning-and-only-time-can-save-me-struggle.
We think that things will be better at some random time in the future. When the kids are older. When business picks up. When the VA starts work. When hubby gets home. When the weather finally warms. When we finally get the house cleaned. When dinner is over and done with.
But for now, we’re failing. For now, we’re just not good enough. Not getting it all done. And because we’re not getting it all done, we feel guilty. And feeling guilty adds to our stress and impacts on our relationships and our mindset.
Did I mention we’re failing?
Here’s the thing. We need to be doing less. Not more.
LESS. This is key.
As mothers we are so adept at setting ourselves up for failure. We create to do lists as long as our arm and then bewail our failing state when we can’t tick everything off that list. We get through 7 out of our 10 goals for the day and instead of just transferring them to another day, or better yet, eliminating them, we lament our failure.
We forget that we aren’t supposed to measure our lives by what we achieve or how much we do. Not supposed to measure our motherhood by how many extra-curricula activities the kids do. Not meant to measure our self-worth by the quality of our cooking. Or our cleaning. Or our business acumen.
But we do. Over and over and over again.
And the funny thing is, no one else sees us as failing. Everyone else – our supportive partners, our children, our friends, neighbours, sisters, colleagues – they all see what we DO get done and they think we’re doing awesome.
We are our own worst enemy.
As Tyler Durden famously said in Fight Club:
“The things you own end up owning you.”
This applies equally to commitments. It’s nice to declutter our homes. It would be even more productive to declutter our lives. And it’s crucial for our mental, emotional, spiritual health.
Arianna Huffington reminds us in her book, Thrive, “You can complete a project by dropping it.” What a liberating concept! We don’t actually have to finish every project that we start. And we don’t need to feel bad about that! But that’s a whole ‘nother blog post!
For now… I’d love you to join me in using an easy-to-remember acronym to make decisions about what we do or leave undone. The acronym is E.R.O. It stands for eliminate, reduce, outsource.
Every time you undertake a task, ask yourself: Can I ERO this? Say it in your head if it sounds funny 🙂
What can I eliminate from my life?
I’m talking commitments here. Stuff is probably another blog series!
Is there something that I do on a daily, weekly or monthly basis that I don’t enjoy, that stresses me out, that just adds a level of ‘ugh’ to my life? Let’s eradicate it.
In my personal life this year, I’ve eliminated children’s parties. We don’t have massive parties every year, but I love to invite a couple of friends over for a play and some cake (and coffee!) but even without the desire to keep up with the latest blogger’s magazine-perfect children’s party, having guests over is still an added stress. This year, I committed to making a cake of the child’s choosing and just having an awesomely fun day. Just us. It’s been beautiful. I’m not opposed to parties at all, but I did feel that they would tip the stress scales a bit this year, so we gave them a miss.
What can you eliminate from YOUR life?
What can I reduce in my life?
For me, this largely centres around virtual noise. I’ve really cut back on the Facebook groups I’m in and done a massive declutter of the pages I’ve liked in the past. I’ve also unsubscribed from any regular emails that I’ve previously signed up for, but which I usually delete before opening. Now, instead of deleting them, I open them as they arrive and hit the unsubscribe button. Inbox peace.
I’ve deleted email and the Pinterest app from my iPhone. I don’t have Facebook on my iPhone. I’ve decided I really don’t want to be so ‘connected’ in a virtual capacity because every decision to ‘connect’ online is a decision to ‘disconnect’ in the real world. I’d rather set my own rules about email notifications and set aside specific times to check this.
Virtual connection – if not kept in check – can quickly lead to the compare-and-despair trap. Do what you have to do to protect your beautiful, unique self, your motherhood, your business, your life… from the trap of comparison.
What can you reduce in YOUR life?
What can I outsource in my life?
Outsourcing is your friend. Let me say that again. Outsourcing is your FRIEND! Go out with it often. Become really well acquainted with it. Ask it to help you out.
As a homeschooling mother with five little ones in the house, I don’t have time for shopping. I know many mothers who use the weekly grocery shop as their “me time”, and that’s awesome, but I’d rather spend my “me time” anywhere else on the planet, so I outsource my grocery shop. Ok, so it’s not entirely outsourced, but 10 minutes a week spent adjusting my regular shopping list online is way better for me than a two hour return trip to the supermarket.
Perhaps you can carpool to a weekly sport, so that you and a friend only do the trip every other week. Maybe you need to get a cleaner for a couple of hours a week. Or a gardener. Or a cook.
If you run a business, there are dozens of tasks you can outsource.
Make a list of every business task you currently undertake.
Split this list into 3:
- Things to eliminate (Do I really need to do this? Is this driving my business forward in a measurable way?)
- Things to reduce (Do I have to be doing quite so much of this? Would it negatively impact my business if I halved the time I spent on this?)
- Things to outsource (Is this my zone of genius? Do I like this task? If I do enjoy the task, is it still the most profitable use of my time?)
My mantra for deciding what to outsource is simple:
whatever I don’t have time for or am not good at, is outsourced.
I don’t have the luxury of doing everything, nor do I really want to. All of the people that I outsource business tasks to are also parents with small businesses. Outsourcing not only benefits my sanity, it benefits the many other family-owned businesses that we give business to.
What can you outsource in YOUR life?
Listen, mamas: We need to start loving the heck out of our lives. And we can’t do that if we constantly feel like we’re failing.
It’s our life and we write the rules. Yet we promptly declare ourselves as failing if we can’t keep these rules.
This should be our clearest indication that it’s time to rewrite the rules.
We’re only failing because we say we are.
I would love to hear from you in the comments! What are you going to ERO this week?