In today’s 24/7, never-unplugged culture, getting through a day often feels like a full-contact sport – especially if you have little ones.
Despite the billions of dollars raked in annually by the wellness industries, statistics show that more Americans than ever are stressed, depressed, and anxiety-ridden – with high-achieving women disproportionately sitting at the top of the burned-out, run-ragged pack.
A breakdown-moment question I often receive from women executives and entrepreneurs alike is some form of, “How can I grow my business faster while having a proper and healthy work-life balance — remaining present in my children’s lives, while also having alone time with my husband and myself?” (Seriously. That’s a word-for-word question I received last week.)
My answer: One cake at a time.
You can have your cake and eat it too, but you can’t have multiple cakes at the same time. You have to decide what’s most important to you and how you intend to consistently show up for that.
For example, I carve out uninterrupted playtime with my daughter almost every day. Yesterday it was coloring; today it was flying human airplanes in bed. Those simple moments together reinforce my commitment to be a playful and present mother, and show my daughter that she is a priority in my life. (So I’m not checking my phone intermittently while we’re coloring, or thinking about something else while I’m reading to her.) I’m fully present, and she can feel that.
I apply this same singular focus to everything that’s worth doing in my business and life. The cumulative effect of those consistent growth practices is pure magic.
Here are a few simple strategies to experience this same magic in your life:
Strategy #1: SINGLE-TASK. In a keynote speech about the Third Metric, Arianna Huffington discusses the dangers of multitasking: “You think you’re being efficient, but actually you’re being stupid.” As Arianna points out, we now have scientific evidence proving we cannot multi-task. Knowing that, what’s most important to you right now? Maybe it’s taking time off to hang with your little one. Or a personal project you’ve been putting off… Whatever it is: it’s time. Don’t let all the things you can choose get in the way of what you know you must. When you set up your time and space to ‘single-task’, you’ll accomplish more and feel less stressed and more satisfied.
Strategy #2: SLOW AND STEADY. Once you’ve decided the 1-3 single-task actions you can take today to move in the direction of what’s most important to you, remember that consistency is what wins the race. For example, if I only played once or twice a week with my daughter, even if we played for hours during that time, the results would not be the same as dedicating daily (or almost daily) space just for her. Having some basic go-tos for this is helpful. For example, I recently purchased the game Guess Who?. I loved that game as a kid and figured it could be a fun, simple addition to my commitment to constantly find new ways to interact. We play it most evenings before bed now. Wherever you decide to take action, you’ll notice that small, consistent practices lead to big, crazy cool results.
Strategy #3: TAKE A TIME-OUT & TRUST. Whenever you’re feeling overwhelmed, remember to stop, drop, and breathe. Take a timeout to reset by deepening your breath and reconnecting to the moment. You can then go back to strategies 1 and 2 to consciously redirect your focus. Even one full breath can bring you back into the power you have right now. Once you get the hang of that, gift yourself more elaborate timeouts–a bath, a walk in the park–to renew your commitment to what’s most important. Trust that the Universe has your back. You’ve got this.
Cortney McDermott is an award-winning writer, TEDx speaker, and strategist to Fortune 500 executives, entrepreneurial leaders, and think tanks around the world. She writes for a number of international publications, including ‘She Owns It’ and ‘HuffPost’. Her debut book, “Change Starts Within You: Unlock the Confidence to Lead with Intuition” was selected for Inc.com’s “26