I recently came to the stark realization that I’ve been living a lie most of my life. I’ve been one of those women who frequently get asked, “How do you do it all?” In asking that question, they are referring to my working full time at a marketing firm, working part time in real estate, keeping a large home clean, decorated and organized, keeping a three quarter acre lot blooming and beautiful, with time left to make home made whole wheat bread (grinding the flour myself, of course), meals, paint oil paintings, etc., etc., etc.
The truth of the matter is that I am a task-oriented person. Nothing is more fulfilling to me than 1) getting things done, and 2) having few to no loose ends hanging over my head. But it’s also true that doing all these things takes its toll on other areas of my life, like rest, recreation, and relationships. I sometimes feel absolutely starved for a little recreation, more time to be creative, and more time to spend with family and friends. Believe me: “doing it all” isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, nor is “having it all” worth the sacrifices it demands. They may look good in the showroom window, but the prices they demand are definitely not affordable to any of us in the long run.
Why on earth do some of us sign up for these lifelong, massive marathons? Why is it sometimes so hard to parcel out or delegate to others at home or at work? Even if this is not a major problem for you, see if you can identify with at least a few of these little gems:
We can’t say “no,” even when our time is already stretched to the max.
If we do, we may fear the boss will think us incompetent, or a co-worker will think we’re not a team player, or a family member will not feel loved or supported.
We don’t like asking others for help.
It may be embarrassing to take off the super-hero costume and admit that we can’t do everything, or to allow others to see our “dirt.” We may also not like to bother others or add to their burdens. Or, we may fear that asking for help may make us feel or look incompetent.
We must be seen as a hard worker, or as the person who works harder than everyone else.
Work for the sake of work alone is pointless if it doesn’t produce the intended results. We once had an employee that proclaimed more than once that they worked harder and longer hours than anyone else in the office. It didn’t seem to matter to them that they were not producing the results they were hired to achieve. But it did matter to their boss, and they were fired in spite of those long hours. It’s far too easy to lie to ourselves and put a higher value on the quantity of time spent than on the quality of our results. It’s also counter-productive to wear ourselves out today on that which is less important, to the point of diminishing personal resources needed for the important tasks of tomorrow.
Doing it all ourselves will save money.
I must admit that this has always been a major hurdle for me. When our budget has been tight, I’ve told myself that we can’t afford it. When we could afford it, well, that didn’t seem to matter either. I’d usually rather buy a tool that I thought would help me do it myself faster or better than pay someone else to do it. The problem with this is that with everything else I usually have on my plate, the task would continue to hang over me and remain undone for sometimes weeks longer than it needed to, often adding unnecessary stress to my life, and impacting results. At PRMarketing.com, we see businesses who try do-it-yourself online PR to no avail–outsourcing help can be a great thing.
If we work just a little harder, longer or later we can somehow fit it in.
This is one of the biggest lies we tell ourselves, and I should know – I’m a world-class expert at looking to bite off more than I can chew. It may have the biggest impact upon me than any of these fibs, because I hate to go to bed at night if there is still something important on my “to do” list that will “just take a few more minutes.” The problem is, those minutes add up – and then subtract from the rest I need to be my best the following day. The same story applies to those things we feel we need to do before leaving the office, except in that case we are sacrificing time with our families as well as personal rejuvenation.
No one else can do it as well as we can, or the way we’d like it done.
This one is for all of us perfectionists out there. We tell ourselves that it’s easier to just do it ourselves than to teach or train someone else, or to monitor and then clean up after the person who will probably do it beneath our standards. This flawed thinking keeps us in the work rut, enables others to be slackers, and robs others of learning opportunities that can enrich and grow our organizations.
The very bottom line is that all of this flawed thinking is exhausting, depleting, and discouraging. Left unchecked, these lies we tell ourselves can snatch away the very success we are seeking in our careers, homes, and relationships.