Even Superheroes Need a Break
Like many parents, I’m juggling a lot of balls. Running a consulting business, being a podcast host, mom, wife, speaker, advocate and much more. It can be a lot and at time some of the balls drop.
It’s taken me years to accept the limit of how many balls I can juggle, and being okay with watching balls drop. And to be honest, it’s still a work in progress.
I find this is a topic that comes up a lot in my coaching, client and advocacy work. In a world of Instagram perfect lives, many people question if they’re doing enough.
We see friends, family members and influencers juggling many balls without breaking a sweat. This inevitability leads to guilt, frustration and self-doubt, wondering why others can do it all and we can’t.
Here’s the secret – no one is an expert juggler. Even superheroes need a break.
The problem with our social media perfect life is people rarely post their struggles.
I know I’m guilty of posting photos of the beautiful breakfast my husband made me on a Sunday vs the bowl of cereal I’m eating on a Monday, while packing lunches and hustling kids. Or the milk stain down my shirt due to trying to grab a wet dog while eating.
Like everyone, my life has ebbs and flows. There are times when I have more time and energy to devote to one area of my life than others. And there are times when it’s all I can do to get through the day.
I’ve learned to set realistic expectations for myself. This starts by evaluating the various areas of my life – work, family, health, community. Then I look at where/how I need to allocate my time.
In the fall, my consulting business ramps up just as the kids are getting back into their school routine. This means my energy needs to be spent on my work and family, leaving less time for volunteering or outside commitments.
When it comes to my health, I’ve learned the hard way that only I can prioritize and create space for exercise. To make sure it isn’t a ball that gets dropped, I pay in advance for three-months of fitness classes, three times a week. Since the money has already been spent, I find less excuses to skip a class.
This is a tough one for many people – avoiding comparing their lives with others. Remember – we only see a small fraction of a person’s life. So, what you’re comparing yourself to is likely not even real.
When my oldest child first started kindergarten, I got stuck in the comparison trap. I would see these well put together moms, drinking Starbucks and chatting at drop-off. Meanwhile, I was always rushing, pushing a stroller and wearing questionable clothes (who has time to coordinate in the morning?).
As the school year went on, I started chatting with some of these moms. It soon became clear that none of them was a master juggler. We were all just doing our best.
Now I try to tune out the noise and focus on my own world. What are my strengths, where do I enjoy spending my time and what’s realistic for me in this moment? By trying (key word is trying) to avoid comparisons, I’m better able to focus on the balls I can juggle.
Take a break
Bruce Wayne hangs out in his mansion sipping wine when he’s not in his bat suit. James Bond loves to sit back and enjoy a martini. And Wonder Woman studies archeology in her downtime.
Even superheroes need a break.
It is through our resting that we heal and grow – not our fighting.
Talk to any elite athlete and they will tell you that training seven days a week is damaging to the body. Rest days are crucial to letting muscle repair.
Give yourself permission to take a break when you need it.
Going back to the areas of your life, is there an area you need to step back from while another area requires more attention? For me, I had to stop a long-term volunteer position as the stress caused outweighed the good.
The wakeup call was a conversation with my husband when I was complaining about being a checkmark on a list vs respected voice. He asked how many hours a month I spent volunteering, including time it takes up in brain. Then he asked what was I giving up by putting in this time.
When I resigned, not only did I have more time but I also lightened my emotional load. I hadn’t realized how much headspace the volunteer position was actually taking.
Instead of jumping into another volunteer role, I gave myself permission to take a break. An extended break. This allowed me to recharge and refocus. Now I work on provincial advocacy instead of trying to push wet spaghetti up a hill at our local institution.
As you look at your own life, ask yourself where do you need to take a break. What areas do you need to step back from to create space for the areas that require your attention. And what balls do you need to stop juggling all together.
Remember – even superheroes need a break.