I believe that there has never been a more exciting, yet challenging, time to be a working woman. The opportunities are abundant but so are the expectations and demands. The pressure to simultaneously be successful in our careers, ideal wives and partners, be involved and supportive mothers, if we in fact choose to be mothers at all, be thin and in shape (not too thin, though but definitely not fat), have interesting hobbies, cook fabulous, effortless meals (locally sourced of course), be charming, witty, philanthropic, politically informed, financially stable, stylish yet not shallow, and wrinkle free (that goes both for clothes and faces!), while adhering to the 24/7 demands of the digital, real-time, working world is completely overwhelming. Different women feel this to varying degrees, and it goes without saying that these are in many ways luxurious thing to be worrying about, but the reality is that it is practically impossible to focus on so many competing aspects of modern life.
These incredible expectations and demands can leave you feeling flustered and unfocused and often so busy and overwhelmed with the many tasks at hand, that you put your own needs aside. Here are ten things I suggest to help combat that feeling.
1. Slow down and be present. It's actually quite trendy these days to say but nonetheless hard to do, however, being present in the moment is smart in business and your personal life.
2. Focus on what you need to do and do it one thing at a time. Lists are great for this and there is a nice sense of accomplishment when you check something off.
3. Don't waste time feeling guilty. One of the main things I hear during my show Perspectives is the guilt many working women feel. This is a wasted emotion. Unless you truly have something to feel guilty about and then that is another story altogether.
4. Be kind to yourself. There are many forms of this including stopping the negative talk (as Arianna Huffington talks about in Thrive) and dedicating time to yourself -- do what makes you feel good -- whether it is exercise, getting your hair and nails done, getting a massage, reading a book, going for a walk on the beach or even catching up on your favorite shows. You are not wasting time caring for yourself.
5. Don't take on more than you can handle. It's OK to say no. As women we are natural pleasers but saying no is actually a very powerful thing to do.
6. Be open to new experiences. Of every shape and size.
7. Don't compare yourselves to others, (this is always a bad idea) but instead, concentrate on the uniqueness of you and what you bring to the table.
8. Keep things in perspective. Don't dedicate more time and emotion to something than it deserves.
9. Understand that life is an evolution. You will not always be in that job, the age you are, the shape you are. If you don't like something -- try to change it. And if you do like it -- enjoy it and see how you can build on it.
10. Have fun. As far as I can tell, we only get to do this life thing once, so make sure you are living the best life for you right now.
I can just about guarantee that you will be a better, more focused, more strategic and more engaged thinker, worker, mother, partner, wife, friend, aunt, daughter, and sister, whatever the roles you fill -- as long as you fill the most important role of all -- which is being your own best friend.
That's right -- be your own best friend. I know, I know -- it sounds incredibly corny, and yet it really is true. Because in reality, the only person you are absolutely guaranteed to go through life with and the only person that you truly know you can always count on, is yourself. So treat yourself with the care, love and respect that is due to your best friend. You.