Maxed out? 9 ways to get from Superwoman to Wellwoman
Get the strategies you need to reclaim your wellbeing and create some space
Posted Sep 08, 2014
Do you ever groan at the presumed impossibility of building and maintaining a successful career, having a fulfilling personal life, and also having health and happiness? Do you feel like you are on a never-ending treadmill, running for your life and scared to look left or right for fear of falling off?
You are not alone. Countless women continue to struggle with the thought of having it all, doing it all, or for many women, just keeping up. In fact, in recent research I conducted in America, 70% of professional women said they don’t believe you can have a successful work life and a happy personal life. What was even more staggering, is that more than 70% of women say they are struggling with their wellbeing, with 40% hanging on by a thread, and 10% just a complete hot mess. It can make you sigh just thinking about it, or let’s be honest, throw things at the wall, scream at whoever is within ear shot, and just generally pull your hair out.
We are all tired of trying to be Superwoman. Where did we even come up with that concept, and who has the energy for it? Clearly, not many.
So how do you get out of the Superwoman context and work your way into a Wellwoman one instead? Here are nine of my tried and tested ways to get you started.
#1 Create a life vision
I often ask people what their ideal day looks like, and they usually look at me blankly. Or I ask them about their life goals and they talk to me about their career plans. What comes up for you when you think about these questions? Think about your ideal day, month, year. What are you doing? Who are you with? How are your passions coming out to play? How do you feel? Thinking about this and creating a vision of your days and weeks, is a great determinant for your life.
To play with this and bring it to life, have some fun with these ideas. You could create a vision board that has all of the elements of your ideal life on it. It could be the type of house you want, a healthy family, your work, your ideal partner if you don’t have them already, your health and fitness goals, your spiritual life. You get the picture. Or you can use a cool online tool like Pinterest and do it all on line. Draw in a sketchbook, create a scrapbook, or just write it all down in a journal. Then work out how your life vision plays out in your everyday life, and what you need to do to make it real. Our life is a collection of those days. So be mindful about how you are living them.
#2 Find your passion
Our passions ignite us, they get the fire burning somewhere deep down in our souls, and they make us want to leap out of bed in the morning and stay up all night. They make us come alive. And they can make the difference between a life just lived, or a life fulfilled.
One of the keys to creating a career and life you love, is to tap into your passions, and connect them into your days. To get a feel for what that might look like, think about these questions.
What do you absolutely love to do? What moves you most? What do you yearn for? If you are struggling to find what your passion is, ask yourself if you were stuck in a bookstore overnight, which section would you sleep in? Why?
It’s not all about work. We often think that to live with passion we have to chuck in our job and go chase a rainbow. Following your bliss doesn’t mean your have to throw everything else away, including your paid work. We all have to make a living, and being pragmatic does not rule out being passionate. Find small ways to bring your passion into your everyday life, and watch your world light up.
#3 Live your purpose
Living and working on purpose is so important to loving our life. When we are living on purpose, we love our work, it is our calling, it ignites our spark and fuels our passion. And it helps us to integrate all of the areas of our life as we live and work with meaning. We know that we are on purpose when you would do the work without getting paid for it, you never stop talking about it, and you never want to stop doing it. And you feel alive.
Have a think about this as you ponder this for yourself.
Do you have a burning desire to do what you do? If you can answer a big ‘hell yeah’ to what you are doing, keep going. If not, it might be time for a rethink. Take a look at your motivation for what you are doing. You might be surprised by the answers.
#4 Create some space
Lets face it, our lives these days are pretty busy. Okay lets be honest, they are crammed to the rafters and set to explode at any minute. Between career, relationships, kids, bosses, domesticity, working out, staying connected and just keeping up, life can get pretty crazy.
Which is why you need to make a conscious and consistent effort to create some space for yourself. Creating space is like drawing a long, slow, beautiful nurturing breath. Without this, we just run one race after the other with no finish line in sight.
What space can you create for yourself? It could be personal space to have a bubble bath once a week, space to go to an art class or the gym a few times a week. Or it could be a work related, like creating space for a new career. The key is realize that you are worth the effort, and once you can identify what your needs are, you can make the space to make it happen.
#5 Set some boundaries
It’s great to have a life vision and to create some space, but if you don’t know how to manage your vision and protect your space, it’s just an academic exercise. Having effective boundaries in place helps you get the right things done, manage your time and energy, and can keep you on the track towards being a cool calm success, not a hot crazy mess. The reality is that knowing your boundaries is a key part of respecting yourself, being able to state your needs, and letting people know what will and won’t work for you.
For your boss, it helps to set expectations, so it is clear what you are and are not prepared to do. In your relationships, it helps to clarify what you need and what is and isn’t acceptable. And for yourself, it is critical so that you have parameters around your work, social and personal lives, so you can manage your career, family and your health and wellbeing.
If you don’t know where to start, think about the times when you feel compromised, resentful or uncomfortable at work or home – this will be a good sign of where your boundaries may have been crossed. So think about what your boundaries should be, set them, and them keep them in place.
#6 Don’t over commit
Ok so we could have written an entire article just on this topic, and it could have filled a lengthy section of my book, not just one chapter. For so many people, this one is really key to living a life that is manageable, enjoyable and not filled with stress-laden anxiety of the never ending to do list. We have all been guilty in the past of saying yes to too many things, that at the time may have seemed manageable, but when it came right down to it, they were actually down right impossible.
Have a think about what is on your list at the moment, and take stock. First, if you are feeling overwhelmed, you need to prioritize and potentially de-commit. What needs to come first, and what can come of the list? This is the most important step you can take to get under control. And when you are thinking about taking on new commitments in the future, think about your list, your life and your sanity, and take a long breath before saying yes. Your stress levels will thank you for it.
#7 Listen to your inner voice
One of the key ways to manage your life in a way that is authentic to who you are and what you really want, is to get in touch with your inner voice – your inner knowing of what is right for you. Now that may sound super simple, however in a busy life, with many distractions and competing priorities, it can get really challenging to understand what is your own internal guidance, and what are just external noises competing to be heard. Not to mention that you also need to learn to trust that inner voice once you can actually hear it.
The clearest way to get to this place of listening to your intuition, trusting your gut and acting on it, is through meditation. And whilst so many people freak out at the very mention of the word, you don’t need to over complicate it. You can simply sit and follow your breath: on a meditation cushion, in a chair, under a tree in your backyard. Sitting by the ocean listening to the waves, or on the open road with your running shoes on. Anywhere you can find some peace and silence, get really quiet, tune into yourself and your inner knowing, you can tap into the power of your truth.
#8 Energy is your currency
You hear a lot of talk about time management, whether it is in your work schedule or your personal life. But we often only talk about energy when we don’t have any, you know, when your crying ‘I’m so exhausted’. But energy is the currency that matters most. Everyone who ever lived had exactly the same number of hours in the day as you and I, so the real leverage is in how you actually harness and manage your energy sources.
According to Tony Schwartz of The Energy Project in the US, there are four types of energy: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. What you do with these sources is key to how you feel moving through your day, how much you get done, the state of your relationships, and even the state of your health.
So how is your energy? The first step is to get real about where you are at right now. Are you exhausted physically? Are your emotions running ragged? Are you ok mentally but your spiritual energy could get a look in? Taking a real honest look at this is a critical step to addressing what could be one of the most important factors in managing your career, and building a life you love. So take that look.
#9 Nourish and restore
This is the real key to unlock the door in moving from Superwoman to Wellwoman. Nourishment and restoration: Two things that many people do well for others, but perhaps not so well for themselves. And for women, many wouldn’t even know where to start. One the most powerful ways to nourish yourself is of course, through what you put into your body. Clean organic whole foods, pure water, a truckload of greens (or just a blender full!), and taking out the white stuff (sugar, flour, rice etc), are key to giving our bodies the optimum fuels to thrive.
As for restoration, when was the last time you did something just for you, to truly restore yourself? In busy lives, it is of the utmost importance that you make time to bring yourself back to balance. Take a bath, go for a walk by the ocean, meditate, get eight hours of sleep, journal, paint, read, spend time with your partner and friends. Work out what you need to really restore yourself, and make time to make that a priority in your day. Your body, mind and spirit will thank you for it.
Looking after yourself and creating space for the life you want to live is the most important thing you can do. If you need more tips and strategies, grab a copy of my book. You can also download my free 12 Rules For Balanced Women over at my website.
And I’d love to hear from you. What is working for you, and what would you most like some help on?
Until next time,
You’ve got this.