By Kim Ades
RISMEDIA, January 26, 2009-Okay, let’s get personal. Here is an update on my life. I’m engaged. My fiancé has 3 sons and I have 2 children of my own. They moved into my house at the end of November and now all seven of us are living under one roof. I live a busy life. I’m growing a thriving coaching company, planning a wedding, traveling when I need to, and juggling the driving, social, homework, and mood schedules of a family of seven.
Here’s a slice of my life over the last 24 hours-which is the antithesis of Jack Bauer, but no less challenging. Yesterday, one of the boys wasn’t feeling well so I stayed with him and did my coaching calls from home for the morning. Once I was relieved of my duties, I raced to the office around 1:00 p.m.-filling the brief hours remaining in the day with coaching, business development meetings, calls and details, leaving behind many loose ends. At 3:45 I rushed out of the office to pick up my kids and get them to Hebrew school. Life would be much easier if they started at the same time, wouldn’t you think? But, no, it’s a four-trip night, in a double-digit freeze with multiple dinner times in between and homework from grades 4 through 10. Did I mention that one of the boys plays the drums? To top it off, I was on the computer with my son playing a video game until 10:45 because I needed to fit in “quality time.”
“Time for me” begins these days around 11 p.m. at night. This is the time when I can read journals, do some writing, read my books, have an adult conversation with Allan (or whatever else we are in the mood for), and eventually get to sleep.
This morning I slept a little too long and found myself scrambling to get dressed and ready to drive the kids to school and get to work. Forget making breakfast and lunch! With shoes in hand, tooth brush in mouth, pants almost on, I stuck my head out my bedroom door and asked the kids to make their own breakfast…
Expecting to see children sitting at the table eating cereal, I came downstairs and found that my son was not there yet.
With the clock ticking, oblivious to the fact that we were running very late, my son ambled sleepily into the kitchen. Upon discovering that his breakfast was not ready, he had a meltdown letting me know, as only kids can do, how I never have time for him anymore, that I’m always too busy…and on and on.
After spending a few minutes beating myself up about the poor job I’ve been doing managing such a dramatic life transition and not having enough time for my kids, I thought to myself, he’s right.
I am always too busy.
I’m too busy serving the needs of everyone in my big, beautiful family and way too busy to spend any time taking care of myself. I haven’t been sleeping well or eating properly, I haven’t seen my friends in a long time, and I haven’t exercised in forever. My patience is shorter, and I find myself at wit’s end trying to please everyone and failing miserably in the attempt. I am guilty of the exact same thing that I coach my clients to avoid. I have not been honoring myself. I have not been putting myself squarely at the head of the equation -and guess what? I am the one who has been bearing the brunt of my actions.
Here’s what I realized. Taking on the task of trying to make everyone happy is nearly impossible and I am guaranteed failure if I make it my life’s ambition to fulfill the needs of each member of my family every minute of every day.
So from now on, I’m done with that. These past 24 hours have been a very important wake up call for me. As much as I want the happiness of every member of my family, old and new, I have learned that ultimately, I can not make them happy; they need to take responsibility for their own happiness, and I need to take responsibility for my own. Now, I’m not abdicating my throne, I’m just going to sit on it a little differently, delegate a little more and define my space in a more meaningful way. Did I mention I’m building a sound proof room for the drums?
My experience only serves as testimony that we must, absolutely must, put ourselves first. It’s only when we do what is right and important for ourselves, and when we give ourselves permission to pursue our dreams and desires, that everyone else in our lives reap the benefits. Why? Because when you are happy, at peace, and aligned with what you want in your life, then you have an abundance of time, patience and joy to share with those in your life. Kim Ades, MBA, is president of Frame of Mind Coaching and one of North America’s foremost experts on performance through thought management. By using her unique process of coaching through journaling, she works with clients to unveil and switch their thought patterns to ignite significant change and life transformation.