Six strategy calls, one week. The verdict is in: Women everywhere are moonlighting as professional jugglers.
I’ve been working with women for awhile now, I have hundreds of hours of personal data on what we are truly up against. And while you know I am busy creating solutions to change the external systems that are majorly broken, I also focus my coaching on showing you that you have permission to take control of your own lives. Remember, no one is coming for you.
So why in the hell are so many of us trying to juggle so much crap?
I jump off of these strategy calls and I hear how exasperated you all are and I cry because I remember. I remember when I was moonlighting as a professional juggler and I wanted to crawl in a hole or move to Hawaii. Yes I dreamed about moving to Hawaii about once a week. I once went as far as pricing the shipment of my car and applying to a few jobs. Now I just plan for a Hawaiian vacation. Big difference.
So I wanted to write about the narratives I am noticing that are holding you in a state of juggling, burnout, exhaustion, frustration, resentment.
Literally this morning a woman said to me over coffee, “I looked at my calendar and I started to feel resentment. Why was I resenting this thing I had built? Because I was overachieving.”
I use the clinical term for “overachieving” which is overfunctioning. Yesterday I wrote on LinkedIn how our mothers and the mothers before them were fighting for that one spot. They were finally “given opportunity” now opportunity is ours for the taking, but we are still carrying around the conditioning of the women who came before. We believe that we are fighting for our seat, that we have to be the most amazing thing to all people in order to be worthy. We often tell ourselves that these opportunities are “a gift” that in demonstrates that we are “worthy” of opportunity.
Listen to me, hear this please, you are more valuable than you think. Do you feel stuck? Like you have to keep that contract or that job because it is what you can get right now? You’re wrong. Do you feel like you have to take on that project at work so your boss will know you’re a team player and you can keep your job? You are wrong. Do you believe that if you don’t have the snacks and the org chart of how your household is going to run that the world will collapse? You’re wrong. Although, I know men don’t do snacks like we do, your kids might be hungrier than usual.
Here is the common denominator I hear from all of these women that is holding all of us in a state of burnout: We are sure in our bones that our worthiness and value comes from our dependability.
We put our needs to the side. We pretend we are fine. We silence our pain. Then one day we wake up and we realize that we are left holding nothing. We have given everything we have away and that is when the dreams of Islands and living out of a van near the ocean start to appear. (Did you get that SNL reference? If not, please watch this and make your day).
Here is the reality; your body and your heart are telling you that you can’t do anymore.
Here is how this over functioning manifests:
You keep facing setback after setback and you can’t understand why bad things are happening more often than usual
You are on the brink of tears more than once a week and you can’t explain it
You don’t sleep. There is “so much to do” that your sleep patterns are disrupted
Your health starts to suffer. Maybe it starts as autoimmune symptoms or consistent sinus infections, mine was ear infections. I just had to have surgery for the years I ignored my body and fed it antibiotics because I was “too busy” over functioning to take care of myself.
You have weight gain or weight loss and your body no longer feels like yours
Things you used to love irritate you and you find yourself snapping at people you care about
People come by your desk to talk and you want to punch them in the face
You have serious envy for people who are living seemingly carefree and lovely lives. “That lady is always on vacation, does she even work?”
You wonder what all of this is for anyway it usually sounds like this:” why are we even here? Doing work? Having jobs? Making money? Why even bother with any of this?”
You perhaps begin to hate the thing you created yourself. You wonder why you ever got into X in the first place
Here is what you can do about it immediately:
Get very clear on your values. Are you actually spending your time in a worthy pursuit? Do you even do things you love to do or care about doing?
Ask yourself why you care so much that people like you. Seriously, behind every over functioning woman is a narrative that their value is in the hands of someone else. Somewhere in there is a story or even an experience that tells you that other people get to define your worth. No shame here, it’s what society tells us every single day. But you have the power to deny that and create your own truth.
Ask yourself what other lies you are telling yourself that are keeping you in this shit storm. Is it that you aren’t capable? That if you leave the whole world will end? That the money is just too good. That you will change “next year”?.
Ask someone to describe how great you are. Grab your best friend or someone you trust with your life and ask them to go to dinner. Then demand that they tell you the truth about what they think you have been doing with your life. Do they think you’re doing the work that maximizes your talents? Do they think you’re happy? Do they think you are honoring your true self? Have them describe how much they love you and why, in detail. Make them write it down so you can carry it with you when things get hard.
Quit something right now. Look at that list of obligations and commitments and cancel one thing. You don’t need to be on all of those committees. You don’t need to show up to that event where you don’t even know why you were invited. You don’t need to miss your kids game or date night with your partner just to attend that fundraiser so people think you are committed to your work. Are you committed to your work? Good enough for me. Quit, quit, quit quit quit. Quitting to make room for the right things does not make you a quitter it makes you a leader.
Moonlighting as a professional juggler does not make you a hero it makes you sick. Take it from a woman who could juggle with the best of them, my body shut down and said no more. Don’t let it get that far. You can start right now and make MICRO shifts to change your life. I hope you do, I believe in you and I know you are amazing even when you let me down.
If you are feeling really burnt out and are ready to make a change, check out my flagship burnout recovery program that has helped hundreds of women recover from burnout and design joyful, vibrant professional lives.