There are two questions smart and caring women need to ask themselves right now. And, this is especially good to do if you’re feeling depleted, directionless, or dissatisfied.
But first, if you are feeling wiped out, know that you are not alone. I’ve certainly felt this way. And, in the past 18 months, families, workplaces, and communities have been relying heavily on talented and compassionate individuals. So, if you haven’t yet exclaimed, “I’ve had it,” I have to wonder if you are even human!
I’ve written about how high-achieving women care for their phone batteries better than they do their own. Here, I’m going to provide two questions that serve as a quick-and-dirty exercise you can use to prevent yourself from reaching that “fed up” point more than necessary.
Ask yourselves two questions smart and caring women need to ask themselves right now
For every activity that requires your time and energy, ask yourself…
- Whom am I nourishing? Or, for whom does this benefit?
- Who/what nourishes me? Or, what does this do for/to me?
Identifying how we give and receive care allows us to be intentional about how we deploy our resources.
This is important because we cannot be everything or do it all for anyone or everyone.
Likewise, no one can be or do everything for us.
This is all-or-nothing perfectionistic thinking. It is impossible to achieve and sets us up to believe that we have failed. And, this “perceived failure” is worse than actual “failure” because at least with the latter, we can learn from it and grow.
I admit I did not enjoy taking my children to the playground. I knew they enjoyed it. I was fully aware of the importance of daily physical activity–especially since we lived in a small apartment in NYC. (Back then, my husband and I were raising two little girls in a one-bedroom apartment!)
But, I didn’t enjoy it. I have always prefered indoor activities.
Moreover, I wasn’t particularly good at monitoring my children. I would get distracted. Most often, I would start up conversations with other moms and caregivers, lose track of my kids, and then panic. It was horrifying…and embarrassing.
I began asking our part-time child care provider or my husband to take them instead. Thankfully neither of them complained–partly because they both enjoyed being outdoors.
I felt guilty at first. But, I found that I could get other things done while they were out. By the time they returned home, I was refreshed, happy to see them and give them my full attention.
When I overheard my daughter tell someone, “My Mommy doesn’t do playgrounds.” I was embarrassed but it didn’t matter to me as much because I knew giving up that duty made me a happier and effective mom.
Other ways to use the answers to the two questions
Similarly, you may find that the ways you’re expending your energy are neither serving you nor those you intend to serve. Being aware of the true impact of your activities is something busy women often bypass.
There are times when the answer to both questions is the same person (or group of people). That is you’re being helpful to someone who also energizes you. Again, using myself as an example, I love working with women on their life junctions. But, my clients also nourish me as I learn about their situations and we together work to figure out solutions to their challenges.
But, there are also times when the work you do to help others doesn’t nourish you. For example, you may choose to care for someone who is not capable of nourishing you back or expressing appreciation for you. Caring for my parents, for instance, can be very tough and demanding, and while my parents appreciate me, they can’t always return the boost in energy I need. Thankfully, I have a set of friends who are in the same boat as me. When I share with them, they remind me I’m not alone and often offer good advice.
Finally, there are also instances when people may give you assistance or advice that is not effective or helpful. Recognizing this helps you figure out what you might need to change. For example, when I was first starting out an acquaintence of mine gave me a lot of small business advice. At first, I thought, “Awesome, free guidance!” As time passed, I realized that what while she was successful, what she did for her business didn’t quite fit me or my business. Her advice didn’t quite feel right. I started seeking out other people to turn to for help.
How might these questions help you figure out how to use your time and energy, whom to help, and how to seek help? I’d love to hear what you learn. Please email me!