A year and a half ago I was miserable. I was lost. I had spent so much time during my kids' early years working at the office assuming that my perseverance would eventually lead to a fulfilling career. Then, during the time I did have with my family, I was distracted. I was constantly checking work emails or planning my kids' extracurricular activities or cleaning dishes - rather than just sitting on the floor and playing with them. When I was focused on self-care, such as working out or spending time with friends, I felt guilty that I wasn’t with my family.
At work, at home, with friends - it was all a constant battle of managing the guilt.
It was overwhelming...all the pressure, all the anxiety, all the lost time and regret. So I went on medication because I thought that was a great way to deal with it - it didn’t require time or effort to go on medication. It was simple. You take a pill each day and it makes the anxiety go away. It takes the edge off.
Unfortunately, it also took with it my executive functioning (memory and word recall). So I went on an additional prescription. My doctor explained that this isn’t an exact science, but instead an art and that we needed to take time to tweak dosages, to fiddle and fiddle until it fits. But it never fit. For some people, anxiety medication is a lifeline, but in my experience, I never felt like me on those pills.
Instead of taking a step back, I just kept working harder and pushing through. I thought I needed to wake up even earlier, work even harder, stay even later. That’s what you do in order to be successful. Isn’t it?
You work as much as you can until you...crack.
I cracked hard. I cracked so hard that my husband would voice regularly that he was worried about me. I would frequently vacillate between “life is great” to thinking “life isn’t worth it.” Back and forth I would swing. My energy levels sank with fight or flight responses at every turn.
I was so lost and unhappy. Overmedicated and dumb. Hopeless and unpredictable. Classic burnout. Never in my life had I crashed so hard and all without ever being able to recognize it.
It was only after conducting a peer evaluation that included over a dozen colleagues’ feedback when I realized what my problem was. How could I not have seen it sooner? My most important values were missing in my life because of my need for perfection, ambition, and belonging at work and at home.
I started to see my engine sputter out. My wings started to collapse and I was in a full on nose dive realizing that all I was working for...the early morning work hours, the extended work trips away from family, the stress lines in my forehead...all weren’t bringing me anywhere closer to happiness because I was headed in the completely wrong direction.
Have you ever been on a long walk or hike only to discover that you were going the wrong way? Not only were you exhausted from the journey so far, but then you were defeated at the idea that you were even farther from your destination than you thought. That was my discovery. I was tired, my confidence at an all-time low, and demands at work and in my family didn’t slow down.
However, us moms don’t just get lost on a trip and give up. We have kids on our backs, dogs on our leashes, people waiting for us at home. We keep on and we figure out a way to muster the energy, put on a happy face, and buck up. Because we have to. Because little people are watching our every move. Those little people are learning character by watching how we respond to stressful situations. “You’re the best mommy” and “I love you mommy” are like anthems being sung as we march off to our daily battle. We do it for them.
We become better people because we love them and we want them to have an incredible life.
So, I pulled up my big girl pants and I worked with an executive coach to understand my meaning and purpose through discovering my values and creating a greater vision for my life. I left my job, I started a new company, I spent so much more time with my daughters, and started to pursue a healthier lifestyle that makes me feel strong, sexy and wholesome (who knew there was such a thing??).
Most importantly, I went off of anxiety medication because I learned how to tap into my values in order to reduce stress.
But I didn’t stop there. I developed a framework in order to make my life choices based on what will bring me greater joy. I took what I learned about strategic planning and sustainable productivity from my career in leadership and brought it into a personal development process that I call the Fulfillment Framework.
I want to share with you how to create this process. How to get out of your rut as a working mom. How to make small tweaks to your daily activities so you can feel fulfilled. It’s a simple prescription. It doesn’t require you to make huge life changes. It will only make you more strategic about how you spend your time and it will allow you to find greater purpose in your daily activities. By the end of it, you will have a framework for how you want to be.
Check out my Fulfillment Collective Training to learn more.