Guest post by my Serbian sister and creator of Wicked Rules, Iva Ignjatovic. Enjoy!
What first comes to your mind when you think of a WOMAN?
I think of someone who works hard, holding the household on her shoulders, great responsibility, taking care of everyone and everything, usually not taking care of her own dreams and needs. I picture some Hindu deity with many arms – juggling so many things in only 24 hours a day.
Since I’m not an anthropologist, I shall not pretend to understand and know all the possible causes for that constant need that many women have to prove their value over and over again. Instead, I’ll use common sense and history knowledge – for a long time women were taught only to work as they were told, without possibility to even say no, just carrying the weight no matter how heavy it was.
The G Word
I suspect this behavior is still big part of our heritage, maybe even information in our genetic material. Why? Sadly, I see lot of women even today in the 21st century, in developed countries, who feel GUILT if they can’t do it all by themselves. They feel inapt because of it. They feel guilt for having an occupation or because they’re successful at what they do. They feel burdened because they chose family or because they made a choice for a career. Sometimes they feel guilt because they think that one of those two is thriving at the expense of the other.
Someone needs to say this:
Enough ladies! Stop feeling guilty!
Stop explaining your choices. Stop feeling like a failure for not having 8 arms, 2 heads, not being able to make 48h out of 24h. You are not superwomen and it’s all right. Adjust your mindset on valuing your daily, weekly, life accomplishments, and start being A WOMAN, proud and happy.
“I can do it all on my own.” Can you really?
There are two myths that contribute to the concept of the “I CAN DO IT ALL ON MY OWN” pitfall. Before getting onto tips on how not to do it all by yourself, I need to debunk these major myths so that hard-working women don’t feel under pressure and guilty for using options.
Myth No 1 – There a people who do everything by themselves and they excel at it.
Think about it! Do you know anyone, doing successfully all on their own and still being sane and healthy? Truly, is there anyone who is capable of any success or job well done without any assistance? FACT IS: we are all limited by time, skills, and fatigue (mental and physical). THAT GOES FOR WOMEN TOO. Humans are social creatures and to do something we join our forces, knowledge, expertise, and raw strength. Our entire civilization is built on the foundation of constant collaboration. It’s happening today more than ever, in every segment of our lives.
Myth No 2 – All you need is better organization and time management.
Although this might be true in some cases, it’s not a valid argument when you are loaded with work. When you carry more than you can bear, it’s THE biggest problem – hard part of already being a tough cookie.
So how do you differentiate poor organization from overload? Ask yourself these questions and be honest with the answers:
- How many hours a day you have for yourself, your own time, just for you and your pleasure and no one else?
- How many things do you do that are errands and everyday duties?
- How many things do you do that leave you exhausted and drained?
Result one – if point 1 is in huge disproportion to points 2 and 3 and you still can’t perform well, then you are in trouble because you are poorly organized. But that’s the case for another post.
Result two – if some of points 2 and 3 are in huge disproportion to point 1, you are in trouble. Driving in red, maybe still not knowing it, and it’s only a matter of time before you ran out of gas. THIS IS something that needs to be dealt with as soon as possible. You’re suffering from chronic overload.
We are not machines! We need so much more than just work to be humans, i.e. feel good in our skin, grow, develop, be a role model to others and to future generations.
How to stop pretending to be a Superwoman
There is no perfect, one size fits all, recipe. However, there are tips and guidelines that can help in battle for guilt-free life. You might have to make some compromises, only this time with other people and your need to step in every time someone rings a bell (or even without bell).
- Ask for help! It’s not cutting corners, it’s not shameful nor degrading. IT IS rational and productive. That small step shows that you do have power over your life, because you act before situations get out of control.
- Say NO when you don’t have time or can’t do something. Saying NO is also a good way to establish respect for yourself and your time. Next time you say YES, your gesture will be appreciated.
- This is not a competition – not with yourself and not with others. There is no need to impress anyone by overloading yourself.
- No one should expect of you (or anyone else for that matter) to be available 24/7 and you shouldn’t allow it.
- Get off of social media for one day a week and don’t peek.
- Make time for yourself. Choose activities that energize you. They vary from person to person, but YOU get to choose them. Even a half an hour can recharge your batteries, at least temporarily. Establishing consistency of the process will gradually accumulate energy.
- I am not going to tell you that cliche “unplug from electronic devices” because it’s not realistic, but you can do something else like silent your phones and gadgets when you work on something (especially on your own time).
- Choose your help team members (friends or family). Keep in mind that some people like to do things that make you unhappy or overloaded. There are also people who can show you easier ways to do things. You have people who love you and would be more than happy to assist you. Listen to them; there’s a possibility they have already offered help but you didn’t take it.
- Adjust certain time-consuming habits (don’t cook complicated meals every day; don’t wait for Sunday to clean your flat, do it partially; instead of driving a half an hour to the gym and back just to run on treadmill, jog around the block. )
- Distribute chores with your partner and/or kids. Involve them and use those activities to connect more through something you usually do on your own. Maybe they detect how hard you work and would gladly pitch in, but how can they be sure unless you tell them? #FoodForThought
- Organize your weekend – not to work more, but to make fun a priority (i.e. socialize with friends, go on a field trip, if having a BBQ party, involve everyone for something so you don’t do it all on your own)
- If you have to work on weekends, arrange time for it, and do everything you can so nothing and no one disturbs you. The more focused you are, the better and faster you’ll finish and be able to go back to fun part. 🙂
I sincerelly hope that you can recognize patterns, not so much for time management but for load management. Even small changes can provide space for a full breath. Once you experience it, you’ll want more and you’ll find ways to appreciate yourself, your time and achievements.
Also, there is one more reason for focusing on life improvement and not being a superwoman. Your personal life is the foundation of everything else you do, including your career. In my experience, there is no long-term stability at work if your personal circumstances are out of control.
I admit that this article might not be for everyone. Maybe your life is just fine; but don’t forget, you might have a friend, someone who needs help, someone who will happily embrace half an hour of your assistance. She needs you!
Iva Ignjatovic is a marketing strategist and business developer. She’s the founder and CEO of Point S Studio and blogger at Wicked Rules, providing photography and business consultation services.
I love that Iva focuses on people, human behavior, their needs, global similarities, individual differences and dynamics they create. She explores causes behind actions and the result of those actions that leads to a goal.
Over to you…
Whew, that was some message! So many women do get caught up, either purposely or just by circumstance, in the “superwoman” mode.
I, like Iva, urge women to take a step back and UNlearn that they have to be superwomen to be successful, UNlearn that they can’t ask for help, and UNlearn that time for self equals guilty feelings.
If you have some advice that works for you, please share it in the comments. Let’s support each other!