Even before I became a Mother, as a personal trainer and life coach I was very passionate about helping women not be martyrs just because they had children (and spouses). Knowing from first hand experience (my childhood) that a women could be a mother and still achieve her career goals and have a personal life too, I always had the perspective that being a mother did not have to end my time as an individual who has interests, hobbies and needs.
Clearly I had (have) a remarkable mother who demonstrated through her actions that you can be a woman and a mother, so in 2005 I wrote and published my first book: Joan of Arc Is Dead. A Wake-Up Call For Women Who Sacrifice Too Much. Now 10 years later I find myself coaching a new crop of clients regarding this same issue. The chronic complaints I hear range from “I have no time to work out,” “my spouse and I haven’t been on a romantic date in months,” “I miss hanging out with my friends or shopping without the kids in tow,” or “there’s no time for me or my needs.”
In answer to all these complaints I say rubbish. YOU have set up your lives to place the needs of the children/spouse before your own. Many life coaches and self-help gurus utilize the analogy of airline safety instructions as an illustration of why this habit is detrimental. They say: place the oxygen mask over your nose and mouth FIRST, then assist your children. The reason for this is that if you pass out from lack of oxygen you’re no good to your children. Well it’s the same in life – if you are over-fat, over-stressed, unhealthy and/or (most-importantly) unhappy, what good are you to your family?
More significantly, what are you teaching your kids (especially daughters)? We tell our children they can be anything, do anything they set their minds to. But our actions as martyring mothers suggest that once you become a parent, those things you had passion for take a back seat to the needs of the child. If I were that child, I would wonder why bother pursuing my goals if once I had a child I had to stop participating in things I enjoy. Clearly there are times and situations that choices made by all parents put our needs last, but if you are consistently harried and/or angry that your needs and wishes are not being met, you must look at yourself for the responsibility.
Now if you’re yelling at your computer screen that there’s absolutely no room in your life for YOU, let me share my Mother’s journey (in brief). She was abandoned by my father and left with two children in a rented house in Los Angeles, her college degree unfinished, in the 1960’s when divorced women were not often welcome in most other women’s homes (for fear she would steal their man). She went on to complete her Master’s degree at UCLA, then obtain Ph.D. from USC (on a full scholarship) all the while working two jobs. On a shoe-string budget, she fed us (healthy choices I might add), clothed us (often sewing our clothes), kept a clean house, was always on time, and still managed to go out once or twice a month on dates. Although my brother and I were “latch-key kids” I always felt my mother was there if I needed her and she taught me how to cook, sew, clean, spent time making arts and crafts with us as well as reading books with me. So I think if she can do it under those circumstances, you can do it!
The easiest and best first step is to begin (or resume) exercising. Choose a time and whether it’s a gym or at home, let the entire family know (including yourself) that this is a non-negotiable appointment for YOU. No matter how tired, you must push yourself to keep this appointment with yourself and trust when I say that after a very short period it will become easier and the rewards are huge. From fat-loss to mood-elevation and stress reduction – you and your family will gain huge benefits from these results. I understand that many of you juggle school-age children with a full-time job, and that you honestly can’t imagine squeezing one minute nonetheless an hour out of your jam-packed schedule. But I promise if you stay open to the concept, and you can find ways to put your needs and wants into the family’s schedule.
So the next time you lament that you didn’t get to do something you really wanted or needed, stop and remind yourself that the quality of YOUR life matters too and it’s all in your capable hands.
We are officially in the last quarter (Q4) of the year and like many I tend to take stock of what I have achieved throughout the year, or more importantly, what I have not. Not everyone is as goal based as I am (more than one goal for growth and achievement always on my plate) – and that’s neither good nor bad. However, almost everyone has at least one goal nagging at the back of their head be it to get into shape or get out of a dead-end job or relationship. Year after year slips past and still you do not achieve your goal.
Since we are in the final quarter of the year, today I’m sharing with you some easy tips to break out of the stagnation or back-peddling that has kept you from that one desire for the last nine months (or longer).
Re-Define The Goal.
People change, things happen, and we often forget to adapt our goals to the newer circumstances. So be clear on what it is you want and how it is you’ll achieve it. (For some the steps needed are what keeps them stuck as they have no clue how to define those steps. If this is you, read my other blog entries about this subject, or simply email me with your questions.)
Often my clients will tell me their goals in a very long detailed sentence that can convolute the true end goal. I say slice away the fluff and get down to the nitty-gritty. Here’s an example using my career: instead of I want to stop working at a corporate gym and start working for myself with private clients where I train them in their homes, try the simpler and more accurate goal of: I will launch my private practice and secure at least 2 clients by X date.
State in the Positive and the Now.
Using the above example, rather than stating: I want to go into private practice which still sounds like a dream more than a reality, and is future based with no time specified… I say: I WILL launch my private practice and secure at least 2 clients by x date. This way is positive (will vs. want), has a proactive goal built in (2 clients) and has a specified date (x date). I know that placing a specific date is not always achievable, but I prefer to aim with specificity than the throw things at the wall and see what sticks approach. Also, remember when there’s a choice, always choose the path of least resistance. which is often either the most direct or the one with the fewest obstacles.
Choreograph Your Steps.
Much like creating a dance, if you want to succeed at goal planning and achievement, you must “choreograph” (outline) your steps A through Z. Remember to keep the newly defined goal in mind, and keep each step simple and proactive. Be results driven and before you know it you will have a slew of results behind you (the steps) and be that much closer to – or actually AT – your goal.
I welcome any of you to reach out to me should you desire a bit more advice and sage direction. Now go get your life on and enjoy Q4 of 2015. It’ll be over before you know it! (Q4, not your life! Wink.)
How long have you been saying you want to get in shape? How long have you been stuck in that dead end job or still living where you didn’t want to be in the first place? For many people, the answer is a really long time – too long – but they just sit and complain about it. If this resonates with you (or someone in your life), I have one more question: what will it take to get you to get off your butt and do something about it?
Blunt, I know, but that’s me. Time spent complaining, being depressed over a situation, wallowing in your inaction is the biggest waste of life I can think of. There’s always something you can do to improve your situation. Usually what’s holding you back is your fear. Fear that changing things might make life worse – you won’t like the new results any better. Fear that you might have to have a conversation of a serious nature (also known as the dreaded confrontation). And the biggest obstacle of all – indecision.
I’ve come to understand that despite the fact that I rarely, if ever, am indecisive, many people are. There are either too many overwhelming choices to pick from, or too few. Either way, they cannot make a decision with conviction for fear that they are making the wrong choice – that another choice might be the better way. Unfortunately they forget the first rule of decisions and planning. You can always change the plan!
We’re not talking Sophie’s Choice here people. We’re taking a point A to point B choice to get you to your desired goal. If the first step of the plan doesn’t get you in line for the next, revise the plan. Movement, even if not completely successful is better than stagnation. Besides, sometimes movement even in the wrong direction, brings forth an opportunity that you would not otherwise have found.
I often use the analogy with my Life Coaching clients that they are on a ship, staring intently upon the horizon for another ship to come by so they can jump ship. But as life as proven to me and many, sometimes you have to jump ship and tread water before the next better ship comes along.
So to any of you stuck in a rut reading this, I say make a plan. Don’t second guess yourself, don’t make it too complicated or take too long. Then outline at least the initial steps (first 3-5) and then execute them in a timely fashion. I promise you the next steps will be easier. I’m always here to help should you desire it.
Time to get off your butt and do something starts NOW!
Today I wanted to share with everyone a very simple tool I offer my life coaching clients to help them keep on track with achieving balance in all aspects of their life. It’s an easy assignment, quick, affordable, yet effective: I call it a “Life In Balance Chart.”
Get a large dry-erase board, magnet board, or poster board and draw seven vertical columns and seven horizontal rows (creating 49 boxes of equal sizes – with enough room to write that week’s “achievements”).
The headings for the rows are: The headings for the columns are:
Friday Social (Friends)
Saturday Family & Home Life
The idea is to do something in each life column daily or weekly that enhances that area of your life. The rows (one for each day of the week) do not need to have all seven columns filled in, but to successfully achieve life balance you need to tend to each column at least twice a week. Columns like Intellectual and career might only have two achievements for the week, while emotional, physical, and family could (and should) have four to five.
Here’s a sample board to further illustrate the concept.
So next time you find yourself feeling imbalanced, unhappy, unmotivated – make a Life In Balance Chart and you’ll soon be on your way to better life fitness!