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The Do It Scared™ Podcast with Ruth Soukup provides weekly motivation, inspiration, and practical instruction for anyone tired of settling for “good enough.” Each week we tackle topics like goal-setting, overcoming procrastination, finding the time, energy & know-how for accomplishing our dreams, and overcoming the obstacles that stand in our way. Don’t miss an episode; subscribe here.
You know the feeling.
You’re behind on a project at work, you’re afraid you’re not spending enough quality time with the kids, you can’t remember the last time you had an evening alone with your spouse, you feel horrible that you don’t have time to make every meal from scratch, and you’ve got big dreams that always seem to get pushed to the back of line.
If you’ve got kids or a family, there’s a special name for this feeling: it’s mom guilt. Of course, dads get it, too, but I’ve noticed it seems to be a LOT more prevalent for women.
We’re always striving for this magical idea of “balance” in our lives, a perfect mix of being a good mom, a good wife, a good boss, a good daughter, and good to ourselves.
There’s a nagging voice that keeps telling us we should do more, love more, nurture more, give more, serve more, be more present, be more spiritual, and be more intentional. And that voice is always there. All. The. Time.
But what if it’s lying to us?
Nobody has time to be everything to everyone. In order to focus on one part of your life, you have to turn your attention away from something else. It’s simple math: there are only 24 hours in a day.
That means you have to make hard choices. But it doesn’t make you a bad person or a failure or a disappointment. It makes you human. You might feel selfish whenever you take the time to care for yourself, pursue one of your passions, or focus on your career, but sometimes we have to be selfish to get stuff done.
In Episode 9 of the Do It Scared™ podcast, I talk all about the idea of balance and why it’s totally WRONG. I’ve got a few tricks for silencing that voice telling you that you should always be doing more, and you’ll find that it’s all a matter of stepping back to see the big picture.
Get the synopsis below or listen to the whole podcast on iTunes or on Google Play. (Or just search for “Do It Scared™” on your favorite iPod app!) Never miss a new episode by subscribing on iTunes. You can also find the full show notes at https://doitscared.com/episode9/
IT’S OKAY TO GET OBSESSIVE
The idea of obsession gets a bad rap. We’re taught to believe that it’s not healthy to focus too long or too hard on only one thing, or to pour all our energy and efforts into a single area of our life. We shouldn’t work too much or exercise too hard or practice too long.
But greatness almost always come from obsession. The most successful and celebrated CEOs and artists and scientists and athletes and entertainers have always been people who are willing to make sacrifices and forgo balance in favor of focus in one very targeted area. In fact, I would dare to assert that behind every truly notable achievement is a person who was willing to get obsessive.
As a Christian, I personally believe that we are called from God to use our unique gifts and talents and strengths to the best of our ability. I also believe that those big dreams—the ones that spark that fear and excitement inside of us—are divinely inspired. To me, that means that if we don’t get obsessive about using those gifts, pursuing those big dreams, and living out our calling, we are actually going astray. We’re not called to balance, we’re called to purpose.
NO SEASON LASTS FOREVER
Have you ever noticed that as humans, we tend to have complete tunnel vision for whatever season of life we happen to be in?
When I was young and single in my 20s, my life revolved around hiking with my dog and hanging out with my friends. As a newly engaged bride-to-be, I lived, slept, and breathed wedding plans. Pregnancy was a whole new season, one filled with anticipation and worry and excitement and fear. Motherhood turned pregnancy into a distant memory, and every season of it has brought its own set of challenges and obsessions. As an entrepreneur I’ve experienced lots of different seasons as well.
Seasons come and go—in marriage and in friendship, in work and in play, in every aspect of our lives. But no season, good or bad, lasts forever.
And that’s important to know and remember, because it highlights the futility of feeling guilty about a lack of balance when the seasonal nature of our lives means that we will always be at least somewhat out-of-whack, depending on what season we happen to be in. Seasons change, and with it, our perspective of what matters most.
IF EVERYTHING IS IMPORTANT, THEN NOTHING IS
One of the biggest daily struggles we face is the idea that everything in our lives needs to be given equal weight and attention, and that if we are not completely balanced in all areas of our life at all times, we are FAILING.
Oh my gosh, what a horrible LIE we are telling ourselves!
Because the truth is that if everything is important, nothing is important. If we are always trying to give equal weight to all the things, we will never give enough weight to the really important things. Not everything can or should be important all the time. It’s not possible, and we will drive ourselves crazy trying to achieve some sort of perfect balance.
Sometimes we SHOULD be failing in one area so that we can succeed in another. Because the alternative is being perfectly balanced in our mediocrity. And who wants that, really?
That means that taking the time to identify your priorities—the things that matter most to you—is absolutely essential. It’s an exercise that should be done frequently, and should result with a concrete list of the things that are most important to you. It should be your physical reminder that not everything is equally important.
IT’S OKAY TO MAKE ROOM FOR ME TIME
A couple of years ago, I did something I’ve never done before: I went on a personal retreat.
For four whole days, I did nothing but read books, journal, go for long walks and hikes, do yoga, take long baths and lay by the pool. I completely unplugged from work and literally retreated from the world. When I came back, I was completely recharged, revitalized, and reinvigorated.
Your “retreat” doesn’t have to be an elaborate vacation. Some of my best retreats have been at home, when my husband takes our kids camping for the weekend. The point is not what you do to take care of yourself, but that you actually do make time for yourself, without feeling guilty about it.
Because the truth is that taking the time to take care of YOU is better for everyone. When we feel stretched too thin, we aren’t able to give 100% to anyone or anything. Allowing ourselves a little “me” time every now and then is like a release valve for all the pressure that builds up. It results in more energy and less exhaustion, helps boost our immune system, and makes us feel calmer, kinder, and more in control of our emotions.
While it might feel selfish or indulgent in the moment, it’s not. In fact, just like on an airplane, when they tell you to adjust your own mask before assisting others, practicing self-care is actually one of the least selfish things you can do.
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These are just some of the highlights from this episode, but there is SO much more to hear! You can listen to the entire episode on iTunes HERE or on Google Play HERE. Visit doitscared.com for show notes from this episode, and never miss a new episode by subscribing on iTunes.