I recently saw something interesting on LinkedIn that said something along the lines of “Family, Sleep, Friends, Fitness, Successful Start-up…Choose 3”. I would really like this not to be true, but I think it kind of is. Over the past 5 years I have rather suddenly transitioned from a single, ‘successful’ corporate career woman to a very happily married mommy and entrepreneur and although I’m convinced I have the perfect life (for me) it does require regular, ruthless prioritization. I’m not talking about prioritizing what I need to do every day. Everyone does that. I start my day just like everyone else (although probably a bit earlier than some of you), with a to-do list that already has about 20 things on it that were left over from yesterday and about 20 more that NEED to get done today.
Back when my life was much emptier, I actually usually got my lists done. Now, whether it’s because there’s more on it, or I’m older and the littles have broken my spirit, it’s just not possible. So the trick is deciding what not to do. And I think the real trick is understanding that it really is a moment by moment decision. I remember when I was pregnant with Bisky and told my boss. He asked if I was going to come back to work after she was born and I said I had to and he told me no, there are always choices.
I didn’t agree with him at the time, but he was right. For example, about a couple years ago, right after the twins were born, I was faced with a choice to continue my career as a corporate HR Director OR finally embark on my dream of coaching and writing OR stay home full time with (all) the babies.
Due to economic and personality factors (my kids are mean) and a commute worse than you could imagine, I chose a Consulting From Home Mommy (CFHM) role. This allows me to stay connected to my career, contribute to the family income and enjoy much more time with my children than I could if I had to spend 12 hours a day away from home (which is what it would be with the commute). That is one choice, but after having made that choice there are millions a day.
For example…when I go upstairs to work, the kids all cry, just like they’d cry if I left to go to work every day. I can choose to go upstairs anyway, or spend half an extra hour with them (which, by the way, only means they’ll be crying and screaming like I’m swan diving into a bottomless abyss 30 minutes later). I can do either, it’s just a matter of choosing what I’m NOT going to do. Am I NOT going to write a blog, or a resume, or post a job, or call a client or am I NOT going to create a memory, or draw a picture, or referee a fight, or get boogers wiped on me (thanks, guys)?
I’m pretty lucky, because I actually get a lot of choices each day. I feel like it all balances out and I hope at some point when they are cognizant human beings the kids feel like they got chosen more than work did but that they aren’t starving, or thinking it from the backseat of the car where we LIVE when they think this because they got chosen at the expense of earning any income at all.
So, going back to the LinkedIn meme, Dreamy and I both have found that you do have to choose three. We’re choosing family, fitness and businesses for now, as former friends as well as the bags under our eyes can attest. But honestly, it seems like a small sacrifice compared to all the joy.