A lot of women come to me asking for help with managing their time better. They perceive their problem as a lack of time to do all the things that they want to do. More specifically – they believe that they have an inability to properly manage it and that women who ‘have it all’ possess a skill that they innately are lacking. If they could only better manage their time they could finally do all the things on their to do list and hence, feel happier.
I hold these stories with compassion and reverence because their stories are my story.
For years I understood two basic truths. Time was scarce and therefore it had to be made use of. And making use of time meant being productive.
The more productive I could be, the more money I could earn and recognition I could gain and those were the keys, in my mind, to happiness.
The money could buy me my dreams and the accolades from others could fill the deep internal hole that sat in the middle of my stomach. In truth, I was yearning for love – but I didn’t know it at the time. In truth, I was fleeing from the fear or rejection – but that truth too, eluded me.
The more I scrambled to find more time, the more time went missing. The more I tried to schedule, the more scarcity I felt. The more I used my fight or flight response to get shit done, the more my immune system failed me. Adrenaline and cortisol flooding the system each and every work day – bringing my digestive system to a halt and interfering with my reproductive hormones leading to cysts on my ovaries.
When we hold a deep seated belief – such as ‘there is not enough time’, our brilliant conscious minds interact with those subconscious ideas to align our outer world with our inner world.
That means that we will organise our lives to match the belief. Our lives will come to reflect the belief that ‘there is not enough time’. We will perpetually overschedule, undernourish and overcommit because that is how we believe things must be.
I constantly ask the question – how could we ever expect to love something – like our work, or looking after our kids, or our hobbies – if we hate ourselves into participating?
The energy that is exuded when we do something because we love it is vastly different from the energy that is emitted when we feel we have to. And subsequently the energy that we receive is vastly different – when we do something from a place of love and acceptance and forgiveness and with no expectation of reward or praise – we will receive energy. When we do something from a desperate energy of scarcity, it will deplete us.
And so it is not about doing more things or finding more time. It is about losing the things that deplete us and doing more of the things that uplift us.
Add to the belief ‘there’s not enough time’ the discomfort we feel when presented with nothing to do, the woman guilt that has been stored in our collective consciousness over generations and the glorification of busy and we have a perfect storm for burnout and disenchantment.
Oftentimes I believe that we overschedule on purpose – so as to avoid ever stopping and feeling deep hurts, traumas or negative emotions. As such we say we want to slow down, but we never really do. We then manifest physical illness as a way of giving our bodies a break – another distraction away from dealing with the deep feelings of unease that haunt us.
Overscheduling and overcommitting is the best form of sabotage known to woman.
Here’s another truth. The belief ‘there’s not enough time’, is actually not the issue. Ask any woman who has this belief and she may also say ‘there’s not enough money’, or ‘there’s not enough food’ or ‘there’s not enough praise’ or ‘there’s not enough clothes’. I myself suffer from such extreme food scarcity that you will always find my pantry stocked above and beyond what is needed.
Underneath all these beliefs is one mothership of a belief. The belief that keeps us miserable and sick and burnt out and worshipping at the altar of busy.
We are not enough.
Every over-achieving woman harbours this belief – and the symptoms of this belief that manifest mirror all the symptoms that we, as a society suffer from. Burnout. Exhaustion. Depression. Anxiety. Digestive health issues. Reproductive health issues. Autoimmune disease. Disconnection. Isolation. Weight issues.
Something to ponder.
How will there ever be enough time or money or food or praise or anything else in the world if we fundamentally feel as though we, just as we are, are not enough?
So when it comes to beating the time bomb there are four parallel paths of action required.
- We must start to tackle the belief ‘we’re not enough’ by looking for all the evidence that negates it. What are all the reasons we are enough?
- We must create space, decompress and fiercely protect that space so as we can rationally see how overcommitted we are and how it is not serving us
- We must learn about and accept ourselves so to understand our deepest values and priorities.
- We must align our lives based on those priorities and let go of those things that don’t align.
The issue is not one of time management.
We will always, always find time for the things that matter most. The issue is one of prioritisation. The issue is one of being comfortable enough with ourselves to say ‘that doesn’t align with my priorities’ and simply let it go.
The issue is to feel confident enough in our own path and priorities that we can look around at what others are doing – feel happy for them – but not feel obliged to participate. That is simply not our path, and that is OK.
The issue is to let go of the good girl – the need to please and overachieve and overgive and overcommit. And by doing so magnetise the things that we truly desire.
If we reflect on how men behave in the workplace and how women do, we can begin to understand how it is that single women get lumped with all the work. We begin to understand that it is not just bosses taking advantage of us or friends asking too much of us or family wanting to spend time with us.
It is our need to be needed that does us a disservice. It is this scarcity mindset allowing others to take advantage. It is simply hypocritical to complain about our bosses giving us too much work when earlier that morning we put our hand up for more in the vain hope that we would get more status, recognition or reward.
It took me a long time and lots of rage to understand that we must take responsibility for our role in creating our realities as part of the process of creating a new one.
Having suffered burnout I blamed my industry, my colleagues, the workplace culture… everything but myself. I didn’t accept – for a long time – that I was at least in part responsible for not standing up for my values, my wellbeing and my deepest beliefs. I was not wholly to blame – there were flaws in the HR practices. There were flaws in the premises on which that industry was built. There were liberties taken with goodwill. And I’m not excusing any of that. But my constant need to be the best. To give everything. To prove myself. That was to blame too.
I believe that focusing on time management keeps us on the surface. Just like diets and fitness and self care activities do. They keep us occupied without really delving deep to the causes of busy-ness and stress and burnout.
The harder, but much more rewarding path is one of self enquiry and letting go.
Did you know that I’m launching a new three month mentoring program in June called Love Yourself Well? With weekly calls, access to the exclusive Facebook group plus videos and workbooks – this program will help you finally ditch the guilt and stress and start defining wellbeing for yourself. Click here to join the VIP list and receive your personalised invite + early bird discount.