Monday marked my 8th day back in the office since maternity leave. This week has been crazy both at work and at home for a few reasons, which I will get into a bit later. I’m very fortunate to get to ease back into work life, only working 4 days this week, so I’m off today with the kids.
Yesterday was stressful. There I said it. I got so stressed that I could feel my heart rate picking up. I thought I might burst into tears at any moment. All day I felt like I was circling around tasks but not getting anything completed.
Today I realized I need to give myself some grace. I mean, as of Thursday, I was 11 days back at work. I haven’t been sleeping well – thank you so much 4-month sleep regression – which I know contributed to my level of stress and anxiety. The no sleep is seriously cruel. Baby was sleeping great the last few weeks and then BOOM, nada. I remember this happening with my first son. I should also mention the hormones. Oh the crazy making hormones. It’s all part of the postpartum and nursing process and shouldn’t be discounted.
And then there are other circumstances that have unbalanced me over the last week. A dear coworker, who I respect and admire greatly, left my company. This person has his or her own reasons for leaving, and own life to live, so there are no hard feelings on my end. But it’s been a bit of a struggle picking up the pieces. My other coworkers have been phenomenal in ramping me up on this particular project, and the client has been incredibly patient. I don’t think we are letting the ball drop at all.
But here’s the thing. I’m feeling out of sorts. I don’t feel like I’m doing my best work. And that needs to be ok. I need to allow myself some grace. Deep down I need to recognize and admit that I’m doing a great job. This is something that is sometimes hard for me to admit.
A friend recently posted a Slate article on Facebook about the Imposter Effect. Reading this, I recognize that I do a lot of what the author describes.
“…self-described ‘impostors’ are in fact pretty good at their jobs. Her piece ends with a heartening quote from a sociology professor at Notre Dame: ‘Researchers find that impostorism is most often found among extremely talented and capable individuals, not people who are true impostors.”
It goes on to talk about how women tend to attribute their success to external factors, instead of their own hard work. Men don’t have this issue.
It got me thinking about the bad habits I need to stop and some good habits I need to start. Some of these are similar in nature; there’s a certain trend to them that needs to be broken.
1. Start giving myself more grace. As a working mom, I have a lot on my plate. I need to recognize that I may not get everything done perfectly. It’s probably done better than I realize or admit, actually. But there are days that my work may not be my best and that’s ok. Sometimes we put too much pressure on ourselves for perfection. Sometimes we only need to give 80% of ourselves to a certain task.
2. Start accepting compliments. I am so bad at this one. I usually fluff over it when I receive one – and as the article states, instead of accepting it as my hard work, I attribute it to external factors. Instead I promise to listen, let it sink in, and say thank you. I plan to start believing it.
3. Stop the mommy guilty. Most mom’s have this – and probably some dads too – and it needs to stop. Whether working or staying at home, we always wish we could provide the other side of our lives more. There’s this paradox that is sometimes hard to get over: When I am working I feel guilty for not being with my kids. When I am home, there are times I yearn for the creative outlet that I get by doing my job, especially when I am excited about a particular task or project.
For me personally, I think I am a better mom because I get to work. I get to use my brain in ways I don’t get to at home, and have adult conversations, and grow professionally. On the flip side, when I am doing the mommy thing, it’s ok to relish in it and not think about work. It’s ok to put family first and prioritize my day and my life around my children. I need to remind myself that my children are in capable care when I am at work. When I’m enjoying a day off with my littles, my work isn’t going to suffer by one day out of the office. In the end, it’s about finding the right balance for ourselves. We may have days or even weeks that feel unbalanced, but over the course of a year as long as the scales aren’t tipping over too much in one direction, my life feels good.
4. Stop taking on too much and start saying no (and start delegating). I have a bad tendency of getting in over my head. I over commit myself, sometimes professionally, a lot of times personally. I need to learn to listen to my inner self and know when I am starting to feel over-burdened. I need to feel ok saying no. That my be no indefinitely, that might be no, not right now. But I need to say it. And when I do start to feel overburdened, I need to start delegating some responsibility.
5. Start taking care of myself. I rarely take the time to do things for me. Right now, my home life is mostly about my kids. Being one of their primary caretakers, when I’m home my time is spent filling their needs, wants and desires. But I have my own wants and desires and I need to fill up my cup. I need to take care of myself so that in turn I am a better mom (this is a reminder I need often; check out my last Monday Morning Reminder on this).
In 2016, I started this blog, and my Etsy shop. This is is something I have been wanting to do for ages but have put on the back burner. Part of that is being scared to take that step. Part of that is thinking I don’t have the time. But I’ve been able to eke out enough time to blog on a regular basis that feels right for me (roughly once a week), design new items for my Etsy shop, and fulfill the orders that are coming in. When I get the chance to write or design, I feel rejuvenated. A massage and haircut would be pretty nice soon too.
6. Start believing in my ability. I am SMART. I do GREAT work. I have ideas that spark innovation, solve problems, and get the job done. I have to remind myself that I am inherently smart, and when I don’t know something, I am also extremely resourceful to either figure it out myself, or find someone else who does.
7. Stop discounting my expertise. This may be just another way to state the above, but I want to go a little further. I need to stop saying “I’m not an expert” or “I don’t have much experience with this.” Back to that Slate article, many times women feel like they need to know 100% in order to be considered “an expert” or “qualified,” while men are ok with feeling qualified if they had 60% of the qualifications. I’m going to try to act and think more like a man with feeling this way.
8. Start speaking up more. I have gotten better about this over the years but there is still room to improve. Often times I will mull over an idea in my brain and not speak up. And then someone else will say something similar and people love it. Why do I hang back? You know that phrase, “it’s better to beg for forgiveness later than to ask for permission”? I need to take on that approach. It’s better to speak up now and no one will like my idea, then stay silent and regret it.
This list could probably continue on. Baby steps. Please help me stay accountable to this list. I’ll probably need to revisit it often to be reminded. It will be interesting to see how these changes will impact my life going forward. Will I be happier? Will I be more positive? Will I be more successful? That sounds like a great recap to the end of the year.
Did any of the 8 things to start and stop doing in 2016 resonate with you? What do you need to start or stop in 2016? Comment below!
Update: Did you read my recap of my year? Check it out here.