Friday, September 21, 2012

Overwhelmed by Unrealistic Expectations? Prioritizing & Balance is the Answer…

I had a newlywed write me recently and tell me that she was completely overwhelmed trying to find a balance between ALL of her responsibilities in life- as wife, friend, daughter, employee, homemaker, etc. She wanted to know if that was normal and she was the only one feeling that way.

Can I get an “AMMMMMMEN” that we can all relate to those feelings??

I feel like now more than ever there is SO MUCH pressure on women to be EVERYTHING for EVERYONE. We are expected (I’m not sure if this comes from society or just is some crazy pressure we put on ourselves) to be….

*the trophy wife who looks like a super model, is respectful and patient, submissive, & has the perfect healthy meal on the table every morning, afternoon, and evening;

*the perfect parent who packs healthy lunches cut into adorable shapes with fun notes, volunteers to be team mom, room mom, etc., AND sew all of our kids adorable matching outfits with monograms;

*pursue a thriving career where we are top performers in the workplace & continuing our education;

*maintain a clean home, with laundry folded and put away, no messes, and everything perfectly decorated for a Pier 1 magazine;

*be strong in our faith, actively growing in our walk with the Lord, the Proverbs 31 woman, and serving others;

*creating all of the awesome crafts on Pinterest (that I REALLY want to make, but who the heck has time??);

*and not to mention, an incredible friend, sister, daughter, aunt, granddaughter, etc.

It can be totally overwhelming!!!

I know I have talked to a couple of my friends about this a lot. Several of my friends are perfectionists (yep, guilty here too- although I am getting better!) and really struggle with feeling inadequate when we spread ourselves too thin.  And unfortunately, spreading myself too thin is something I am really good at.

It seems like a simple solution is to stop doing that, but that is tough stuff too. I am ALWAYS overloading my plate and constantly running around trying to balance all of my many responsibilities. My calendar STAYS packed- and Jonathan hates that, so it’s something I really need to work on to honor him.  The ONLY free day we have is Saturday, and it is a RARE case when we have an open Saturday. RARE. Honestly, I don’t think know that is not healthy.

I have made an effort to cut back on some of my extra responsibilities this year, but there are always a million things that I feel like I could be doing, so that still weighs on me.

But here’s the deal. We aren’t MEANT to be everything for everything. We aren’t CALLED to be these busy body women who accomplish the tasks of an army on a daily basis. Right now in Sunday School we are completing a Bible Study called “The High Calling of a Woman,” and it is so encouraging to be reminded of what is truly important in our lives.

Here are some things I do so help me when I start to feel overwhelmed with all of my responsibilities.

1. Ask the Lord to order my steps.  This is a prayer I try to pray every morning. Sometimes I forget. It’s important to be tuned in to what the Lord wants to accomplish through you each day. I know a lot of our daily tasks seem super important, but ultimately, will they impact eternity? Probably not. The more we seek His will, the more we can be in tune to what HE desires from us, and not a personal agenda we expect of ourselves. It’s so easy to get distracted from His will when we are busy. I’ve heard it said many times that “If Satan can’t make you sin, he will make you busy.”

2. Get my priorities in check. This one is super easy to get out of whack. I know lots of times we get caught up putting our work before our family, our kids before our spouse, or our spouse before our walk with the Lord. It’s important to make sure you have very clearly set out your priorities and are accomplishing tasks according to those. This is somewhere I often fall short. For example, when I don’t take time to get in God’s Word and spend time in prayer, I can TOTALLY tell. I’m grumpy, rude, overwhelmed, negative, impatient, etc. When I keep my walk FIRST, everything else falls into place better. That needs to be number one so I can be the best at the other things on my priority list. Next, I am called to be a wife. God first, Big Jon second. And nothing in front of him. I do have a list beyond that, but those are definitely my top priorities and deserve most of my focus and attention.

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3. Make a to-do list. I like to make lists. It helps me to remember all that I have going on, and sometimes after I write it out, I will rewrite it in order according to level of importance. Some things can wait. When I have a list, I am less likely to forget something important.

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4. Do not procrastinate- get to work immediately. The more I put something off, the more it weighs on me and stresses me out. Here is a silly little example. I have been meaning to make a blog book out of my posts for the past couple YEARS. Yes, years. I FINALLY made them the other day and it took all of about an hour (thanks to Emily for sharing….Cutest Blog on the Block has blog books that you can create super quickly- and they look great!). So bam…done! I also get a LOT of e-mails, so I try to respond ASAP before it becomes super overwhelming and I have TOO many to even respond to. It has worked much better for me to just take 10 minutes here or there to respond than to have to play catch up and spend hours doing it.

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5. Don’t lose sight of the important things. Sometimes at work someone will come into my room and need to talk. I may have other things I really need to be getting done (like grading assignments or entering grades), but it is more important in that moment to just listen. There will be another time to get those things done. We have opportunities all the time to love on others, and I think lots of times we miss being a blessing because we are so busy and caught up in the things we need to get done. I just wrote a post about that actually…

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6. Learn to say “NO!” Repeat after me. It IS OKAY to say no. I am learning to do that, and people don’t seem to really like it. But ya know what? I don’t answer to them. I’ve found that people always ask me because….are you ready for this….they know I’ll say yes. And that I’ll do a good job. But that doesn’t mean I’m obligated to do it; especially if that means I have to put something else (higher on my priority list) on the back burner. My mom has been telling me for YEARS to start saying no, and I have JUST started trying to make a habit out of that. Honestly, it is really liberating, so you should try it.

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7. Find balance. I don’t mean to sound cheesy when I say that, but balance is extremely important. If something takes over your life, you will not have a healthy balance that keeps you at your best. I know I tend to get REALLY involved in whatever I’m doing at the moment, so it takes a lot of work on my part to maintain balance in my life. I am a “hard core” person, and if I do something, I’m going to really DO IT. Even “good things,” like charities, serving, helping others, etc., can take over. Hobbies are another thing that take over easily.  People become totally consumed with their hobbies and it ends up taking priority over all else.

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I know that may not help much, but if nothing else, maybe it will encourage you in the fact that you are NOT alone. Many, many women feel completely overwhelmed, stressed, overworked, underappreciated, and inadequate. And you wanna know why? We are putting our eggs in the wrong basket. We are trying to please the wrong people. If you focus on your relationship with the Lord and pleasing your husband, above ALLLL of the other crazy “to-dos” in your life, you will reap blessings. Eternal blessings. It’s definitely worth it. (And I’m talking to myself here….)

I know I for one am so excited for May (the end of this school year)….as that is my turning point to start simplifying and focusing on what is truly important. Yes, I definitely plan on taking small steps till I get there, but after this school year, I can guarantee you I will have made some changes.

6 comments:

Elizabeth Ann @ Elizabeth Ann's Recipe Box said...

This is awesome! :-) Thanks!

Kristal said...

Awe I love this post. Gosh, I can relate! I think every woman does as some time or another. Thank you for the great tips and cute quotes! It's nice to know we all go thru feeling overwhelmed. PS - Love your picture at the top, that pink dress... GORG!
http://sincerelyarizona.blogspot.com/

MrsCollier said...

Absolutely stellar, Danielle! I even mentioned you in response today in a post on tobemrscollier.blogspot.com!

Dana + Ryan said...

I love you! This is absolutely spot on! God is totally speaking through you on this post!

christa said...

I am so guilty of overbooking and not saying no. My husband said to me on the phone last night as I was away at a half marathon. Can we have a date soon....

Holly said...

I so needed this post tonight. I'm dealing with so much on my plate right now I forget to enjoy all the good things coming from it. Thanks so much for always being an inspiration.