Ever feel like you’re doing it all and there’s just no time to slow down?
I’m excited to share another inspiring guest post with you today. Ashley Gartland is a life coach who’s made her mission to help women who love being moms but also desire to pursue passions outside of the home. Regardless of your place in life, I think you’ll walk away from this with some valuable tips you can put to use in your life right away. Enjoy…
How Letting Go of Doing It All Made More Room For Me In My Life
A guest post by Ashley Gartland, Life Coach
I have spent many years of my life trying to do it all. I have tried to wear all the hats. I have tried to be the maid, the mother, the personal chef, the chauffeur, the wife and the business owner – and juggle the demands of all those roles perfectly, often in the course of a single day.
On a good day, you could say I did a decent job of juggling everything. And yet, at the end of each day, I always found myself facing one scary truth: there wasn’t much room for me in my life.
There wasn’t room for me to do the things I loved doing for the pure joy of doing them.
Or room for me to practice better self care.
Or room for me to read a novel or write in a journal or put my feet up and just be for five minutes.
Although I realized this, I got very good at rationalizing these realizations away. Sure, the idea of having time and space to myself sounded nice in theory, but I didn’t actually believe it was possible for busy women like me to have leisure time.
Truthfully, I didn’t think I deserved it because of my choice to become a mother and an entrepreneur.
So in order to be the responsible, high-achieving woman I wanted to be, I convinced myself that I needed to keep doing it all on my own.
The problem was I had a harder time convincing myself as time went by. I started realizing that I couldn’t maintain the pace I was running through life at. And, I couldn’t keep pouring love from an empty pitcher – nor did I want to live a life where I was trying to be supermom at home and superwoman at work without making time to take care of me.
I was headed down the path to resentment, overwhelm, and burnout, and I didn’t want to keep traveling down that road.
The way off that path was clear: it was time to let go of wearing all the hats and doing all the things. But the actual process of learning how to let go wasn’t easy.
In order to overcome those hurdles and create more time for me, I had to find a way to process it all and get some clarity about my past priorities and what needed to change going forward. So I did what I often do when I’m at a crossroads in my life: I started writing.
Here are four things that I found essential to my process of letting go of “doing it all” to make more room for me in my life:
I wrote a list of all the things that needed doing. A list filled with all the chores I felt responsible for and all the tasks I had claimed ownership of over the years. The list outlined in detail all the to-do’s that ping-ponged around in my brain, the ones that left me feeling like I would never finish it all.
I gave myself permission to look at that list with fresh eyes, from the perspective of a woman who was going to be fiercely protective of her own time from this point forward. Then I asked myself three questions:
What things on this list can I delete?
What things on this list can I delegate?
What things on this list can I delay doing?
Growing awareness was key and writing providing me an outlet to understand the cost of continuing to live the way I was living. For years I’d made a habit of handling everything myself and we all know habits are so hard to break. Asking for help with any task, large or small, was a struggle and I was fighting some serious perfectionism that made it hard to for me to trust other people enough to hand things off.
Make a Plan
I forced myself to answer those questions honestly, and then I made a plan. I took the list and crossed out the items that needed to be deleted – the ones I was going to stop doing entirely. These were often the things that seemed necessary but that didn’t really add value to mine or anyone else’s life. (For example, I didn’t need to re-organize my daughters’ closets and toy baskets every few days. Instead, those 20 minutes could just be for me.) The act of crossing those to-do’s off my list felt like making a contractual agreement with myself. It was liberating to let those tasks go.
Learn to Delegate
The delegating was harder to do because it meant I had to ask for help. So first, I circled the items I wanted to delegate and put the names of people I thought I could delegate them to next to each item. Then came the most important part: I wrote a date next to their names. That date served as my deadline to talk to that person and ask for help.
It wasn’t easy to reach out for help but as I went through the process, I came to see that asking for help didn’t make me less capable as a wife or mother or business owner. Instead, asking people for help gave them a chance to support and care for me that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise.
Delay the Unnecessary
The final step was taking a look at that list and getting realistic about what things could be delayed for the future. My tendency was always to try and do as much as possible in a given day, which meant frequently working ahead on projects at home and at work – and unnecessarily so. Delaying a few tasks for the future gave me the chance to slow down in the present moment, which helped me find those bits of leisure time I longed for.
Learning to let go has given me the opportunity to carve out daily time and space for myself. It has made me a happier person, a more present mother and partner, and a better businesswoman. And it has allowed me to live a more beautiful, more balanced life that has space for everything I love in it – including me.
I want you to know it is possible to stop wearing all the hats and doing all the things.
It’s possible even if you’re a busy woman or a mom in the thick of raising your kids. And it’s possible right now if you’re willing to do the work and learn the art of letting go.
Ashley Gartland is a coach and mentor for creative women entrepreneurs who want to grow their businesses and reach their personal and professional goals without losing their ability to lead a balanced life. Ashley has more than a decade experience building creative businesses and her work has been featured in dozens of publications including O, The Oprah Magazine and The Huffington Post. You can read more of Ashley’s writing and learn more about her work and services at www.ashleymgartland.com, on Instagram or through her free Facebook community here.