'I Feel So Guilty and Stressed all the Time'
One of my first coaching clients came to me and said 'I really want to take on this new role I've been offered but I'm so busy already and I don't have enough time for my kids or my husband. I feel so guilty and stressed all the time".
Together we worked on all the usual methods of good time management but it really wasn't working for her. She said the inside of her head looked like a piece of paper with random words (all the things she should be doing, and needed to do, and wanted to do) written all over it but with guilt attached. That amazing woman went on to complete a Degree in Social Work, now works full time, is involved in an after school community programme and gets to spend time with family with a lot less guilt.
When we really dug down deep, we realised her biggest issue was not how many hours she had in the day (although none of us ever have enough), but the value attached to all of the 'must do's, have to's and should do's in her life. Somehow we had to find a strategy that was going to work for her and enable her to fulfil her dreams and still be a great mum and wife.
Obstacles Standing in Her Way
We All Have Things to Do
Now if you're a business or working mom we all know that there are some things we just have to do.There are family functions we have to attend, elderly parents to visit, school events with our kids and the list goes on, not to mention hubby time and ME time. Few of us though have ever sat down with ourselves and/or hubby and decided what our own or family values and priorities are for how we spend our time.
So Why Do I Need to Work out My Values
Our values determine the bottom line for how we want to live our life. They are the ruler by which we consciously (or usually unconsciously) make decisions. Without them we will often listen to the loudest voice and go with the flow or reactively follow the stream of circumstances around us. They decide ultimately how much and how we spend time with our family; what priority community activity, hobbies, and personal time has for us. When we fail to put conscious values around our life, our living is not always as intentional as we want it to be or should be.
5 Examples of What Our values could be:
Your best strategy is still to decide what are the most important and valued things for you as a family and individually. Future time usage commitments and decisions are then decided upon according to the value they carry.
Case Study 1
I recently had an attendee in one of my workshops who had never thought about their family values and priorities. He has a wife, 2 year old twins, studies and works full time. His wife also has study, has to have gym time and special meals for health issues, and they had a commitment to spend a certain amount of quality time together as a family. When we went through their weekly schedule their days were very organised but totally full. After working on their values and priorities we realised they had prioritised well. What going through this exercise did for them though was clarify and cement for them the values, culture and lifestyle they wanted to build as a family for their children.
Case Study 2
I had also done this exercise with another couple who were so totally overcommitted and their marriage and children were suffering. Their stress levels were high to say the least. The husband was opting out of family time because of stress, the kids were reacting to it and mum was carrying most of the load. This exercise was a wakeup call for them. It caused them to take a step back and take stock of their lives. They worked on their values and then revamped their priorities and schedules. She now has a full time job as a social worker, he works full time, they have parents living with them and they are involved in community. This has also helped them make some tough decisions over the last two years because they are clear on their family values.
These Values are not Set in Stone
It is important to remember that our lives are ever changing, and so our values and priorities change also. New opportunities may come our way or our life circumstances change. It is okay to revisit this process as many times as you need to in a lifetime.
How Does This Strategy Compliment Normal Time Management
This values based strategy should be considered as the under-girding of all other time management tips and strategies. Without it, it can be like applying a plaster to your current time dilemmas. It is the foundation to begin from, and the time management tips and strategies are the administrators of the time you have available.
It Helps You to Say No
I found that this values based strategy enabled me to say no without feeling guilty. When I’m asked to take on something else, I go back and check whether it fits with my values and priorities and with my goals for the year. If it doesn’t, I simply say, ‘thank you for asking me, but at this time it doesn’t fit with my/our family/business/personal goals and priorities for this year/month/week’.
YOU DON’T HAVE TO FEEL GUILTY, because you’ve already decided ahead of time what is important to you.
So there it is, something you may have not considered an important element in your time management strategies, but nonetheless a crucial foundational step that takes a holistic approach to your time and stress management needs.
Take care of yourself