I was just prodded by a great blog by Janine Garner from Little Black Dress Group
who posted about not trying to be Superwoman by doing everything and having a perfect life / house / business / etc. (It’s a good read)
I’ve been studying the issue of Superwoman Syndrome for a while now (there is a equivalent Superman Syndrome too) but what resonated with me in Janine’s blog was a current need to simplify my life.
I have taken on so much stuff and coming from a family of hoarders I haven’t let anything go.
This includes physical things like outdated clothes, old books, stale pantry supplies, ancient technology etc., through to the non-physical like the ubiquitous subscriptions that clog my inbox and the library of e-books I have downloaded with the best of intentions to read.
And as for the clutter in my mind – that’s a whole other story!
So I decided to undertake a “system-wide purge” to empty my cup* for some fresh input.
*This refers to the story of the Zen Master who was asked by a new student to teach him. “First let’s have some tea,” the Zen Master said. The Master poured the tea into the aspiring student’s cup until it was full and overflowing, but he did not stop.
Eventually, with great respect, the student said “Master, why do you keep pouring? The cup is full – there is no more room.”
The Master replied, “And so is your mind. When you have emptied it there will be room for learning from me.”
Although the perfectionist in me is kicking and screaming I have realised that I don’t have to be 200% available at work, a domestic god, the perfect partner, super parent, supremo hobbyist, etc. I can resist the unrealistic (self imposed) expectations of being able to “do it all” as a perfect multi-role, multi-tasker and therefore not run the risk of without succumbing to feeling overworked, overwhelmed and over-committed.
A long time ago I spent a couple of years in the army and so learned to iron clothes properly. In fact it was essential that everything in our cupboard was perfectly ironed at all times – and so it was.
Suffice to say, I don’t do that any more! It’s iron as I need i.e. on-demand. And isn’t that pretty much what we need to consider with all our so called “necessary” activities?
Here are 3 great strategies:
1. Let go of perfectionism
It really is impossible to be perfect all of the time and things do not have to always be perfect. Focus on progress over perfection. I’m not ashamed to admit we have many dust balls in our house – with a dog that sheds hair 24 x 7 x 365 it’s hard not to. But they do get cleaned up periodically 🙂
There are only 24 hours in the day so how you spend or invest them is important. For example,
I don’t know anyone who in their last days has said “I wish I’d spent more time cleaning the house.”
This is the best way I know to reduce a sense of overwhelm. Keep it simple. Get rid of the excess.
If you haven’t used something in say 5 years, the chances are you never will.
3. Say “no”
Maybe the best advice is to learn to let go and learn to say no – especially after you’ve already said yes to something else. Otherwise you find yourself taking on more and more until you reach overwhelm and everything falls in a heap.