As ambitious, busy women, our competing priorities — family, work, aging parents, volunteering and taking care of ourselves — are compounded by our competing desires like career, success, happy and healthy families and the pursuit of personal passions. We can achieve these things, but first, we need to pace ourselves and recognize that we can't have it all at once. And then we need to let go of the things that don't truly matter and see that perfection is the enemy of our pursuit of success.
Here are five New Year's resolutions that are designed to help women set a healthy pace and realistic expectations for balancing their life and achieving their goals. In the spirit of not trying to do it all, you should choose only three of these resolutions and focus on them for the first few months of the New Year. Do not try to tackle them all at once. In the spring, you can re-evaluate how well you're sticking to your goals and whether you'd like to add more resolutions.
What are the household chores that take up your time and that you can ease up on? Do you really need to make the bed every day? Does your linen closet need to be as organized as the Library of Congress? You certainly don't need to dust and vacuum every day. Relax your standards and free up some precious time. No one's house looks like a magazine spread every day — nor does it need to.
Whether you want help around the house, someone to drive your child to school, volunteers for the teacher-appreciation lunch or some assistance at the office, ask for what you need. Don't expect other people to know what you want. In 2014, start your sentences with "Can you please..."
Too often, I hear women tell me they don't want to ask for help because they don't know how or when they will be able to return the favor. My advice is this: Don't worry about it because most women don't keep score. They know it takes a village, and they are happy to do their part.
When you start letting others help you, you'll need to be prepared to accept their ways of doing things. And even if you do something for yourself, you can still accept good enough. It saddens me when women tell me that they don't want to take up running if they can't complete a mile in under 10 minutes, that they won't host a party because they don't have window treatments or that they won't take on a new assignment at work because they don't have all of the resources lined up. Remember, a task completed — even if it's not perfect — is still a task completed.
Every woman has her own unique talents and strengths, and successful women truly get this. They resist the pull of the "Michael's Mafia" — the mothers who make the elaborate crafts and volunteer in the classroom — and they don't try to compete or even keep pace. They don't worry that their neighbor just made partner at her law firm, and they're not concerned with who is richer, thinner or smarter than they are. They just focus on themselves. Congratulate other women on their accomplishments, accept that you have your own unique set of skills and do more of what makes you special.
Ban the word "should" from your 2014 vocabulary. That word is usually a reflection of someone else's value system — society's, the media's or your parents'. These outside influences tell you that you should lose weight, go for a promotion at work, make more money, volunteer at your child's school etc. Forget about what you should be doing. What do you want to do? Now go do it.
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