How happy are you? Are you content? Do you have moments of peace? Do you feel good? Perhaps you do, but not nearly as often as you’d like to.
If you are like most women leaders, your responsibilities and frantic pace leave you feeling frazzled, overwhelmed, irritated and frustrated. Happy, my guess, doesn’t hit the top of the list very often.
But what if it could?
What would more happiness be like?
What would it be like to feel more of those “good” feelings on a regular basis? As one woman inthis survey put it:
“I would go to work at a place I feel valued and appreciated and come home with energy to engage with my family. I’d return to feeling light-hearted which is my natural state.” (Go ahead and do this survey...I'd love your input!)
Mmm….. doesn’t that sound splendid?
Start with Grit
There is a way to find those feelings. You can foster more happiness in your life, even if you are a woman leader with a lot of obligations, commitments, and responsibilities. One way is by developing gritty hope. That starts with growing the personality trait of grit.
Not wimpy hope!
Hope is often misunderstood as luck or fate. “I hope tomorrow will be better” leaves things up to chance. But someone with a gritty personality takes hope one-step further. They will say things like “I resolve to make tomorrow a better day.” To me, that statement is hope on steroids. It’s a gritty hope. Rather than waiting to see what tomorrow will bring, you decided, to make it different.
Too many women give up control over their life circumstances
Where many frustrated, irritated andoverwhelmed women leaders struggle, is when they give their power away. They get frustrated with their jerk boss, unappreciative staff, slow-moving peers, unsupportive spouse and demanding kids. They lay blame for the experience of their life on other people. “If they would all just smarten up, life would be fine!” If everyone did things as you want them to do, you would be more productive, more relaxed and yes, even happier right? The problem with that mindset is that you wait for that to happen. And wait. And wait some more. While you are waiting, you stew and moan and get even more irritated.
You can't wait for life to happen
But, it doesn’t change, does it? No. People don’t transform into stellar employees, charming bosses, amazing husbands and brilliant children, by us waiting for them to decide to change. Sadly, life is not a fairytale.
Take back the reins of your life
Instead, you need to cultivate a sense of hope and optimism WHILE taking action. That action isn’t always going to be easy. It will require action that won’t change things overnight. The action that I am talking about must also be purposeful and focused. AND you will need to take action filled with a powerful sense of hope that it will, over time, make a difference.
You will have to think differently
To take this kind of hopeful action takes a serious mindset shift. From giving up our sense of power, and waiting for it to change, to taking back responsibility for our lives requires us to change our thinking. It means we need to develop a growth mindset; one that believes we can change and grow and develop. We need to train our minds to understand the process of change and growth and embrace the time and effort it takes to see results.
Gritty hope puts you back in control of your life experience
When you develop hope to make your leadership and life better, you move from feeling victimized to feeling in control. You begin to see opportunities, relationships, and experiences in a new way. Your hope helps you to experience more moments of cheerfulness, enjoyment, and peace. Yes, you become happier, when you become grittier.
Measure and increase your GRIT
Do you want to know how gritty you are? Click here to get the worksheet that will help you discover your Grit Score and create a plan to increase your grittiness. Watch this to learn more about the 4 psychological assets of grit at work. Learn more about developing grit in your leadership and life here.
You can either move into a leadership position, or you can keep plugging along where you are and maintain some resemblance of balance in life.
But you can’t have both.
It’s either a career or balance. You decide!
Hidden Messages Plague Women
How many times have you heard that you can't have both? Probably not always outright, but if you read between the lines, it’s there.
We do it all
So they don’t have to decide either a career or balance, women try to do it all:
Setting the pace for the day, we open our email before the sleepy crust is out of our eyes. The speed quickens as we scurry around to get the dog fed and the kids out the door on time. We respond to everyone else’s needs all day jumping from meeting to email to conversation. The race continues into the evening as we dash through errands, supper, laundry and whatever event is scheduled that night. To catch our breath, we decide to unwind in front of the TV. However, we still have our email open, trying in vain, to catch up before the wheel begins to spin again tomorrow.
We are anything, but balanced!
Missing the meaningful things
I know that women leaders spend their days chasing fires and solving everyone else’s problems. At the end of their days, thought, they feel as though they didn’t get anywhere.
But, there is always tomorrow, right?
Change your tomorrow!
Darn right! Tomorrow is another day. I believe that women can choose to change their tomorrows, given the opportunity, support and information. The catch is they have to decide to make the best of opportunities when they are presented.
Choose a different way
Choosing something different isn’t easy, in fact, it can be painful!
Some days, I chose puke
My babysitter Faith was amazing. But that didn’t stop the tears from rolling down my cheeks, as I drove away after dropping off my vomiting toddler at 5:45 am so I could catch the plane to the city for that “big” meeting. It was a choice I had to make. Barfing child or a conference with the big wigs. That day, I prioritized my commitment to my clients and the work our team was doing. On other days, I elected for scrubbing puke off the coach.
Don't live in default mode
Again and again in my leadership, I was presented with opportunities to make choices. How I made my decisions, was the crux of building the life I wanted. If you want to stop choosing between career or life, you have to get good at making other choices. Living your life in default mode and letting others make the decisions for you, creates frustration, bitterness, and resentment.
Nothing will change if you never choose
I doesn't have to be either/or
I believe a woman can move into leadership positions and at the same time, find a decent amount of balance in their life. To do this, they need to develop the confidence to make good choices. That confidence is the thing that will help them, do the inner work necessary for compelling leadership. By developing themselves, women develop their character and strengthen their integrity. These are the two fundamental traits needed for credible, competent and effective leadership. They are also the two qualities that help women to lead full and rich live both at work and beyond.
The 3rd Option
I want women leaders to know they don’t have to decide anymore. They have a 3rd option. Women can have both a career as a strong and impactful leader and at the same time, have a level of balance in their lives. I grow courage and confidence in women leaders so they can make good choices. I give them the inner and outer tools to move from just surviving to thriving.
Develop Your Confidence
To make that 3rd choice of both career and life, it starts with the confidence to make good choices. To learn more about how you can increase your confidence, click here to get two ways to get an immediate boost of confidence. Then follow my weekly blogs so you can learn how to strengthen your courage to confidently make choices that give you the balance you desire while continuing to advance your career.
Develop your confidence so you can make good choices
The problem is you are unhappy with your day-to-day life, but you don’t know how to change it.
The consequence of staying trapped can be stagnation, frustration, and bitterness. It can become quite unhealthy for you, your team and your family as the effects spill out around you. Perhaps you’ve already noticed this. Especially, if you, like many, have been bogged down for weeks, months or even years.
THE SIMPLE SOLUTION: The solution is to change it. Getting from where you are now to where you want to be is quite simple, right? You just figure out where you want to go and start moving in that direction. It sounds simple perhaps in theory, but we all know, it is not always so easy in real life. At times, getting there can seem downright impossible.
I know that place of stuck all too well. Time-and-time again I have found that I am once again feeling stalled. I realize I’ve been working hard, but getting nowhere, except worn out. You know that feeling too right?
I learned that instead of staying stuck forever, it was when I paused long enough to realize what was going on that I had some great insights. Through conscious pondering, I was able to figure out what I needed to do to get from where I was, to where I wanted to be. Giving myself that time to think allowed me to do a little bit of a pivot in a new direction.
That slight shift of direction helped me to create a new strategy to accomplish what I was looking for. With that plan in hand, I was able to proceed forward, despite challenges, opposition and with the fear and doubt that are ever present.
THE COMPLETE SOLUTION:
The key to success has always been a plan. It is the deliberate understanding of what I need to do next, and perhaps even after that has gotten me, and can get you too, through the challenges that are inevitably in front of us when we want a different experience of life going forward.
A plan is a roadmap that helps you to move from where you are now, to where you want to be. Think of it as your guide that shows you the next step when you get lost or disoriented. Without it, you might just end up going around in circles. In fact, I believe many of us do that daily. Around-and-around the hamster wheel of life we go, never really getting anywhere.
A plan isn’t just simply saying I don’t want this, but I do want that. A well thought out, comprehensive plan includes the steps you need to take and addresses potential challenges and roadblocks that you will face. The truth is, it going to take time and effort to get to your destination. You will need to work at it step-by-step. To be successful, you need to build a thorough plan.
DEVELOPING YOUR PLAN:
Moving from the trapped place of overwhelm, doubt or spinning your wheels to feeling happy, confident and advancing forward each day with purpose, takes effort, time and persistence. It is not easy. The truth is, it can be quite difficult. What makes getting back into motion easier, is one secret ingredient that is often missed. Wishing, hoping and begging will only take you so far. To get the rest of the way, you need that plan.
If it’s time for you to jump off of that crazy hamster wheel and move forward, then it’s time for you to develop your plan.
DON’T GET CAUGHT IN THE HAZARDS:
If you are like many women, you develop a plan to change your life, only to have it all fall apart just a short time later. That’s because you likely made one of the critical mistakes most women make when trying to develop a plan to change their life.
I want to make sure you are successful moving forward. To help you out with this, I’ve developed a list of the 5 mistakes women make when trying to change their life. I’ve also included the “fix” to those mistakes, so you don’t get caught. To get those 5 mistakes, just click here, and I’ll send you the report.
Remember, the plan is critical. However, it must be a comprehensive plan to work. Take the time, don’t make these mistakes, and build your plan today! When you do, you’ll find yourself getting unstuck. Instead, you will be moving forward with clarity and purpose.
In a recent article from Forbes magazine, women are encouraged to break through the self-made barriers to be themselves and propel themselves forward. A cheer for women everywhere, yet a hard reality to face. Even though we know this, applying these lessons take courage and commitment. Where can women find that?
It's true for most women
I’m often reviewing the recesses of my memory looking for a story to tell my audiences. I want to share how I took the lessons learned in my leadership and life experiences and applied them to developing myself. By telling these stories, I want to motivate and inspire women to grow themselves. Sadly, I have many stories to choose from to share.
There was a time I was thrown under the bus by my peer, attacked verbally by an employee, and used as a scapegoat by my team when they were unhappy with union negotiations. I was looked over by my boss. I was afraid to apply for next level positions. And yes, I neglected my family more times than I care to remember.
The Forbes article
I regularly landed in all three categories listed by the Forbes magazine article, which indicates that:
My determination got me through
When I look back at my journey, it seemed just when I figured one thing out, there was another encounter to face. I came back, repeatedly facing those battles, determined to figure it out leadership. I was determined to figure out how to lead will and live fully.
Your fear is very real
Your encounters with fear of failure, family challenges and the feelings you don’t quite measure up are “normal” and very real. The question is how to overcome them. I will give you the 4 “easy” steps to overcoming barriers and finding confidence. The steps, I dare say, are not so easy. It takes courage, time and a deep desire along with immense support.
4 not so easy, steps to overcoming barriers and finding confidence
Courage is the ability to face your fears and keep moving. It comes from deep within you. It’s like this flame that burns, heating you up and encouraging you forward. The more you notice it and fan it, the strong it gets. Courage gives you the ability to do things even when you feel like not doing them.
It takes time. There is no more truth than that. The development of confidence doesn’t all happen overnight. It is continued focus and effort over time that will make the difference.
Passion is what heats you up. Think of a truly passionate moment with your lover. Now remember a heated argument. Both are passion. That heat is what gets your adrenaline flowing and gives you the stamina to have wild, passionate sex and to fight for what you believe in. Accessing that passion in your work helps to heat you up also and gets your juices flowing so you can dig deep and stay the course.
The only way through life is in relationship with others. We truly don’t do anything alone. My husband has always been the biggest cheerleader in my life and work. I’ve had good friends along the way who have encouraged me and pushed me forward. I would never have made it through my earlier career without two loving babysitters that not only cared for my children but also understood why I dropped them off each morning. They too supported my work.
It's not what happens, it is what you say to yourself about what happened
As the article indicated, these are inner demons. All of my fears, doubts, beliefs and insecurities started in my mind. Did my boss overlook me? Perhaps, but it was what I told myself about it that was far more damaging than what he did or didn’t say.
Overcome your inner voices
The ability to develop confidence and step fully into leading and living starts with getting control over what you say to yourself. Begin with the exercises above.
Take the time to grow your confidence
These exercises will help to grow your confidence. That increased confidences will allow you to lead and live, with purpose and passion and peace in your heart.
Join Kathy October 1, to grow your Confidence & Courage.
Find all the details here.
Stop striving for work-life balance. It doesn’t exist. Nor should it. Balance is nothing more than societies way of laying guilt on working women
Cindy was seeing her kids for less than an hour a day
She arrived home and had only a brief time with them before she apologetically tucked them into to bed. Each night, she vowed silently to change things. It was the same promise she’d whispered to herself for months. But work needed her.
Cindy tried to make up for it on weekends
She found herself, however, exhausted and with little patience left. The majority of what she had for energy, focus and compassion were used up in the day-to-day grind at the office. Cindy craved balance. She wanted to divide her time between work and home and not have them interfere with each other. Yet she could never find a way to do that.
Work-Life Balance doesn't work
That is because there isn’t a way. If you, like Cindy, have wondered how to better juggle everything to find more harmony in your days, you are not alone.
Women are tugged at constantly
Working women, especially leaders, feel pulled in all directions. It’s not just work and kids. You also know you need to put some attention to your health and well-being. Likely you have some community groups that you feel a responsibility to. Your marriage, parents, and the renovation projects all scream for their share of your priceless time.
Dividing things equally is impossible
The point is that it is impossible to equally divide your calendar and your energy to each task or area in your life. You can’t spend 1.75 hours with your kids, 8 hours at work and…you get the point. There are weeks that you must work more than 40 hours, in fact, a lot more. Just the same, there are times when your family requires more attention.
How do you find more alignment without the guilt?
The answer has been presented in The One Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan. They call it counter balancing. There are a couple of key things to know about this strategy.
Priories are the things we need to focus on. Everything else needs to be put on the back burner when we are focusing on that priority. This recognizes that we can’t answer the phone, when we are working on a report has been ranked at the top of your list. It also means we shouldn’t be reading emails at the supper table.
Prioritizing goes deeper than that
In our work days, we chase everyone else’s priorities. Often our own meaningful work never gets done. For example, many indicate relationships are key. Yet, we may plan to talk to an employee for days but never get to that conversation.
Prioritizing isn’t about ordering the tasks on our to-do list
It is about looking within and determining why we do our work. It is about looking at the bigger picture and having a vision for how to get there. Another great resource on how to do this is the book Essentialism by Greg McKowen.
Lean way out
Counterbalancing recognizes we can’t always walk along a path that is straight. There is no state of being completely balanced. We are constantly in motion. The approach is to sway back and forth. We will need to lean heavily into work some days. Other times life will draw us strongly into it.
Let yourself lean
When you allow yourself to lean in or out fully you will find more enjoyment and meaning in what you are doing. Imagine being on a beautiful Caribbean holiday, and checking email. That sucks, right? Now image being on that same beach completely shut off from work and simply soaking up the sun. You would find a more gratifying experience.
Stop feeling guilty
The same is true in projects at work. If you are feeling guilty about missing supper, you aren’t completely focused on the task at hand. Therefore you won’t be doing your best work and it’s going to take longer.
It takes a bit of getting used to
Keller and Papasan acknowledge it can be bumpy. When we put our focused attention on a priority, it means we are going to lean away from other things.
When you put time and attention towards these priorities, naturally it’s going to take the focus away from other things. This will put things out of balance, which is okay if done so for the right amount of time.
Engage in Counterbalancing
The key is for the right amount of time. Leaning way out isn’t bad. In addition to a particular work project, perhaps your health and your family are also priorities. If you stay at the office until 6 pm, it’s not the end of the world. Counterbalancing the long day is when you head to the gym after. You further counterbalance when you immerse yourself in reading to your child at bedtime, fully present to him and the story…cell phone in a totally different room.
Think of counterbalancing as your umbrella
Tightrope walkers carry something the to counterbalance them. They have a weight that pulls them back the other way. Your weight is your other priorities. It might be your health or family. By identifying it as a priority and then giving fully there too, you will find more of the sway back and forth, just as anyone who appears truly balanced is doing.
When you are out of balance, ask yourself two questions:
1) Am I currently focusing on my priorities or someone else’s?
If you are focusing on someone else’s, can you stop? Yes, you have a job to do. But are you doing someone else’s work because they didn’t do it? Are you chasing stats that you have sent already? Are you solving a problem that staff can solve themselves? Are you having a conversation that, if left alone for a couple of hours might become a non-issue? If so, step back, pivot and move towards your priorities.
2) What can I do that will counterbalance the effort, time and energy put in here, to pull me back towards my other key priorities in life?
We each have an internal bucket that only has so much within it. Everything continually dips out of that bucket. Conversations drain us. Work exhausted us. Chasing appointments, kids activities and a mile long to-do list depletes our reserves. What puts back into your bucket? It might be a massage, reading a book, having coffee with a friend or quality time with your family. Do something to put back into your bucket.
Counterbalancing can save your life
Getting really good as swaying back and forth will be the trick to being able to "do it all". But you must not get stuck on one side for too long. Know all of your priorities. Ensure that you acknowledge your umbrella there to support you.
Rather than the freaking out...I'm gonna lose it soon awkward dance you do, you will find the more controlled and comfortable sway back and forth. And while it may look to the naked eye that you are in balance, you will know you just got really good at counterbalancing.
Take a moment to write down your top 3 priorities in life and your top 3 priorities at work. Put the list of priorities somewhere that you can see them often. When you are out of balance, look to them to get back on track.
Developing solid habits will have you move from frazzled & frantic to focused & flourishing. Habits are the magic trick. They are the secret elixir and habits are the golden ticket. Success in any career or facet of life comes as a result of a doing a few things routinely every day. Leadership is no exception.
1) Wake early
Early risers know that when they take the time for themselves in the morning, they are more grounded and relaxed as they start their day. It does mean you have to go to bed early and get a solid 7+ hours of sleep.
What to do when you wake early? Do things for yourself that you complain you never have time for. Meditate, journal, simply sit quietly and have your coffee.
How I do it
I wake at 5 am and do the following each morning: weigh myself, drink a large glass of water, shower, do yoga, meditate, read scripture, journal, read, review my goals and eat breakfast. Even on weekends. I may get up an hour later, but that’s it. All of the things I longed to have time for in the past are now done before half the rest of the world even wakes up.
2) Eat breakfast
You have heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But here, is maybe what you didn’t know about breakfast. Willpower is the ability to stay focused on something or avoid other things. Strong willpower requires fuel. The fuel comes from what you eat and gets turned into the stuff inside you that helps your brain to be focused and clear. That clarity is what you really need in leadership. So, eat your breakfast.
How I do it
I have for years eaten oatmeal every morning. I’ve switched it up recently to an oatmeal pancake (oatmeal, an egg and cinnamon with a tiny bit of water). High in protein, the oatmeal fuels my body to be able to maintain stellar focus to work on what is important.
Our bodies crave movement, yet we sit most of the day. Get in the habit of going for a walk at lunch or when you get home. You might add a trip to the gym in 3 times a week. Schedule it in your daytimer. You could also make exercise a regular part of your morning routine, seeing as you are going to get up earlier anyhow!
How I do it
One of the biggest changes for my confidence as a leader happened when I started lifting weights. Strengthening my body helped me to stand up taller and stronger and gave me an inner feeling that shows up on my presentation. I do 20 minutes of my mini trampoline several times a week as well as regular walking, yoga and yes, weights.
4) Take breaks
Habitually taking breaks lets your body, mind and soul relax. Leaders are “on” all the time. Being able to shut off for a few minutes several times a day helps to counterbalance the magnitude of stress leaders are faced with. Go for a walk around the block, step out back and simply watch the birds. Relax.
How I do it
Each morning, even as I work from home now, I have a break at about 10:30 and eat my yogurt. When I am writing, I use the Pomodoro technique and write for 20 minutes, take a 3-minute break and then do two more sets of 20 minutes. On the breaks, I stretch, look at something other than a computer screen and have a glass of water.
5) Practice gratitude
Practicing gratitude allows us to move our vibrational energy into positivity rather than the negative cesspool we spend much of our days. Appreciate what has gone well. Recognize things that worked or that helped you out.
How I do it
Each morning when I journal I write down a list of what I am grateful for. I try to emotionally connect to that feeling when I write it down. It has meaning for me and my body responds positively when I re-engage those feel good emotions.
6) Write down goals
Knowing what you are working on, at work and personally are critical to achieving great things. Yet, many people have no idea what specifically they are focusing on. Writing down your goals, in a place that you can connect to each and every day helps keep them alive and you focused on them.
How I do it
I went through a process in December/January to help me clearly identify what I wanted to be working on this year. I look at those goals every morning. Once a month I write down how I have progressed on that goal. For example, one of my goals was to have 10 women register for Women with Grit this fall. In the summer, I recorded the behind the scenes work I was doing to get ready to open registration this month.
7) Focus on Priorities
Rather than trying to manage time, successful women know they need to manage the important things. In order to do that, you have to know what is important. That starts with knowing your goals as well as having a clear sense of what is standard day-to-day work. From there, getting clear on the top priorities for the day will help you decide what to do and when to do it.
How I do it
Each morning I write down the 3 things I MUST get done that day. I focus on those three things before I do anything else. Most days, those 3 things are done before 11 am. This also requires I have goals, I review my goals and I keep them up front and center, so I know what my 3 priorities are each day.
8) Ritualize pauses
Pauses are those tiny moments that most of us forget to takes throughout our day. By ritualizing them, you can increase their frequency. Take a deep breath before you get out of your car in the morning, after hanging up the phone or when you return from going to the bathroom (you are taking bathroom breaks right??)
How I do it
I make a habit of taking a deep breath when I notice I'm getting wound up. Whenever I am switching from one activity (writing) to another (social media posting) I stop and take a breath and a stretch. It's not a break, simply a pause.
9) Note daily lessons
Each of us is provided with lessons on a regular basis. When we notice them, we learn from them. When we don’t, we get the same lesson again, maybe this time with a little more vigor. Instead of a gentle reminder to eat healthy, we end up at the hospital. Forgetting something once, and not learning from it causes a big mess. Noticing lessons requires you to consciously look at situations, consider what you have learned from them and then apply the lesson learned to change it for the better in the future.
How I do it
In my daily journaling, I note lessons I learned the previous day. I may realize that answering the phone in the middle of my power writing time threw me off and so the lesson is to ignore the phone. It will heighten my will power the next time the phone rings rather than habitually answering it. Noting daily lessons helps me to develop the success habits rather than the mediocre habits.
10) Count successes (not failures)
We have been programmed to notice lack and scarcity rather than abundance. We notice what we didn’t get done on our to-do lists rather than celebrating what we did. Begin to notice successes you’ve had. Note the success when staff who was about to pop their head in the door stepped back and kept moving as a result of boundaries you set yesterday.
How I do it
As I fall asleep most nights, I make note of all the things I was able to do and accomplish and what worked well. I’ve also at times journaled this in the evening. Noting what I accomplished reminds me of progress on goals rather than only focus on achievement.
Adding any or all of these habits will drastically change your success and your happiness levels! What one habit will you work to establish in the next month?
Last month I posted 3 blogs and videos all about family that were pretty popular. For easy reference, here they all are.
Are you happily married? Be honest!
Is your marriage going good or is it ready to fall apart? If you are still happily married you are in the minority these days. The question is then, how do you keep a strong marriage in spite of everything else you’ve got going on?
Last weekend, I’m sad to admit, I lurked around the aisles of Walmart to see whom a guy we knew was really with. Ernie and were shopping and we’d seen him at a distance. It looked like him, but it didn’t look like his wife. A minute later I discovered, it was, in fact, not his wife that he was on a little shopping excursion with. Before long, I was doing a bit more sleuthing through Facebook and discovered yet another couple in our community that had separated.
We are shocked
Ernie and I have lost count of the number of our friends, neighbors and people in the community that have broken up. We are often flabbergasted when it is someone who’s been together for years and years. It seems to be such a regular occurrence.
Isn't it supposed to be "for better or worse?"
I mean I get it if there is something really wrong. But what happened to “til death do us part” and “for better or worse”? Are we not supposed to work things out and hang on through thick and thin?
I've seen the worst, and don't like it so much
Let me tell you, we have seen the worse! Together Ernie and I have dealt with our own disagreements, financial challenges, parenting difficulties, mental illness, sick parents, trouble with the law, family feuds, horrible bosses, unplanned pregnancies, vehicle accidents and the list goes on. It has not always been easy. The truth is sometimes in our marriage, it’s been downright nasty. Yet, we stuck through those times.
I much prefer the better
Even bigger than that, we’ve seen the “better side”. On more than one occasion, together, we have watched the sun set over the lake on the most beautiful, calm evening. We have been privileged to see our son throw his daughter up in the air and hear her giggling, out of breath, saying “Again Daddy, again!” We have travelled the country together as proud parents to dance and Tae Kwon Do competitions and to basketball and baseball tournaments. We helped our kids see their dreams come true, from buying a guitar, to buying a house. Ernie and I have sat together, as best friends, night after night at the kitchen table or one the deck sharing the experience of our lives jointly. I couldn’t do it without him.
The challenge though is when everything else gets in the way
Yet not everyone makes it. You might be one of those ones he is hanging on. I commend you for that. Faced with grueling challenges at work, the stuff we have to deal with as we raise our families and our own inner battles around weight, confidence and household duties, there is little left over for our marriage. But we need to figure out how to make our marriage one of the parts of our lives that gets attention.
I've been learning about this for a while now
Ernie and I are celebrating our 27th anniversary this week. We will once again spend it camping together; focusing on giving back to each other. Here are 3 things I’ve learned about creating a successful marriage in the last 27 years.
3 Strategies for strengthening your marriage:
1) Respect him and his situation
As a leader, you have a lot to deal with. No matter what your partner does for a living, so do they. It may not be the same challenges that you are faced with, but it is their challenges. Respect where they are at. They have bad days too. They get overwhelmed, stress and may feel exhausted at the end of their day.
Ask them about their day. Express interest in their incidents for the day and the worries they are having trouble letting go of. Let them dump. Allow them to vent. Be a listening ear for a few moments. It shows you care, both about their situation and about them. Allowing them to let go of their day puts them in a better place. They might also then be in a better place for you to then turn to you and let you do the same.
2) Ask for help
Don’t expect your partner to read your mind. It’s not gonna happen! Tell them what you need. Don’t demand it. Don’t insist. Ask. Here I am really talking about the over and above normal things. Perhaps you have a daily routine, a division of chores and responsibilities that sorta works. Then one crazy day, you just can’t handle your end of the bargain, just because you’ve had a really bad day. Ask your partner to pick up pizza on the way home. Ask for him to bath the kids, take the dog out, wash dishes, give you 20 minutes piece or sit and listen to you. Ask. He won’t know what you really need until you ask.
3) Offer help
On the same token, there will better days for you, and worse days for him. Give to him those days. Offer back whatever you can offer. A little extra sleep, a neck massage, a special dessert, extra time for him at the office or a listening ear. Whatever it is that you can give back, do. He won’t ask for it either. In fact, he may not even know that he needs it. Use your intuition to guide you.
Marriage is a give and take
There will be times when you are the one giving and other times, receiving. It may seem very unbalanced, for long periods of time. That’s just the way it is. The awareness though is what will help to bring the balance back sooner. Lean into each other often. Lean in through the delightful times and through what seems like merciless times when you aren’t sure how you are going to make it.
What is one thing you can do today to strengthen your marriage? Share below so that you can get other people motivated and inspired in growing their marriages as well.
Choices you make every day, choices that turn into words and behaviours, profoundly impact your team at work, but maybe more importantly, your kids at home. Have you given much thought lately to the subconscious messages you are giving your kids about work and life? Might I suggest, that it’s time you did.
We created a tradition
Yesterday as I sat down at the supper table, I remarked, “When did my kids get to be grown ups?” It was our regular Sunday Night Supper. That means that whoever can, and wants to make it, comes home for supper and dessert. We typically only have dessert on Sundays. Yesterday it was my 3 oldest children along with some significant others. It was an opportunity for me to look around the table and even surprise myself at how they’ve grown up or maybe how I've survived parenthood.
This tradition was created by choice
All of the kids (I have 4) don’t always come home for supper on Sundays. They do have other things they choose to do. But it’s a regular occurrence to require the leaf in the table on Sundays to accommodate the extras. This Sunday routine did not happen by chance. My husband and I have cultivated it. We had supper later some nights when one of the kids was still working. Other times, we had to go pick a child up to make sure they'd be home. We did what it took, to make sure that we were all together as a family for supper once a week.
My kids now believe in Sunday Night Suppers
Why do my kids return home? Free food perhaps plays a large role. But beyond that, there has been an instilled value of family. By my husband and I putting our own time aside for the last 20+ years to make Sunday supper special, and everyone senses how important that is. Newcomers to our family quickly catch on. My kids find value in it and express that value in their own words and ways. My husband and I always have done our best to be home on Sunday’s for supper. If we have to travel or be a work otherwise, there was a recognition that it is rare and not our first choice.
Traditions are part of creating a legacy for your children
Having family traditions is one way of leaving a legacy for our children. Think back to your own family traditions. Many traditions are around holidays, but there are also tons of other “that’s just the way we did it” kinds of things. For example, we usually went to church on Sundays as a child. We were active in extracurricular activities. We put our earned money in a bank account. Those actions, gave me messages about life. The way my parents raised me, and the way your parents raised you, has left a legacy.
What is the legacy you are now leaving for your children?
What is legacy really anyway?
Legacy is the way people approach work and life,
as a result of having come into contact with you.
Galford and Maruca
That is true in organizations and it is true with your children. The way your children do approach work and life and how they will in the future,is profoundly impacted by your actions, your behaviours and the words you choose to use today.
Consider the conversations at home that you have about your work.
Our kids learn a lot unconsciously. It's not like you sit them down at the table and say "Honey, my work is hard. I don't like it. But I must do it to pay the bills". However, consider what your children hear you say to your spouse about your work. What do they overhear you say on the phone, perhaps to your employees? What are the messages they get about your work or work in general?
Kids are real good observers
It's not only what they hear, it's also what they see. Consider what your children observe in your behaviours and actions and what messages that gives them. For example, what do they pick up from:
This isn't to make you feel guilty
Lord knows I neglected my children more times than I care to remember. I dropped them off in their pj's at the sitters early in the morning without breakfast, so that I could catch a plane to a management meeting, more than once. The point is, in your heart of hearts, what do you want. This isn't about keeping up with the other Mom's. It's about what how you truly want to parent and the lasting impact you want to have.
Take a moment to consider the legacy you want to leave
Often when we take a moment to consider this, we realize that we may not be giving quite the message we intended. You may consider it’s time for a bit of adjustments.
Try this exercise to get clear
Take a moment to sit down and consider the legacy that you want to leave behind.
Imagine it's 10 or 20 years from now and your children are leaders in an organization. Imagine they are great leaders and awesome parents. See what kind of a leader they will be. Visualize the impact they have on the people around them. Notice in your mind their relationship with their own family.
Then come back to now. If you want to leave that legacy with your children, what do you need to do now to create that impact? Remember legacy is the way people approach work and life as a result of having come into contact with you. Your kids are in contact with you or have the potential to be each and every day. How will your contact today influence their approach to life when they are grown?
Question: Where do you need to course correct to get your desired impact on your children?
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