If you look at almost any issue of nationally published women’s magazines, you’ll find article upon article trying to convince the American public (and American women) that you can have it all — a brilliant career/business and a marvelous family life — and then follow with instructions on how you can accomplish this easily.
I am just not buying into this train of thought. In order for most successful business people to get where they want to be in their businesses, something has to go. For me, it’s been a personal life. As a single woman of 40 with no children and no significant other on the horizon, I’ve got much more flexibility than most. I can make a conscious decision to forego some aspect of my life on a shorter-term basis to reach my goals. Most of us aren’t quite that lucky, however. You have children you have to get dressed and to school each day, or a spouse who needs more attention than just daily feeding and watering, or an elderly family member whose health might be failing. leaving you with caretaking responsibilities.
What we all need is a really great wife. Now, before all the women seek to lynch me, think about it for a moment. Wouldn’t it be great to have a June Cleaver at home taking care of the children and all the household responsibilities, which would leave you with the freedom to do what you needed to do to get your business where it needs to be? No more worries about getting the kids to soccer practice or packing for that trip to Baltimore or having to come home and fix dinner after a very long day at work? Great fantasy, isn’t it?
So, given the reality that the “wife store” is permanently out of stock, how do today’s business owners still achieve the objectives of their business without ending up in divorce court or having an emotional meltdown? I’ve discovered the hard way that being selfish is the key. Yep, that good ole’ selfish word — the word our mothers have led us to believe was associated with being uncaring and unfeeling of others. For me, that translates into weekends that I spend alone engaged in activities that I enjoy. Sure, it’s difficult to turn off business, and it can be a challenge to turn down invitations with friends, and some weekends I’m more successful than others. But as a card-carrying INFP on the Myers-Briggs scale, I know that I can tolerate only so much of being around other people at networking events, meetings, classes, and etc., and I have to recharge and get grounded again in order to get up and do it again on Monday morning. So, I spend my weekends going to festivals, the museum, a great movie, out to eat at a favorite restaurant, or reading a new book.
I will guarantee you that if you are not getting your needs met and engaging in active self-care, you won’t be pleasant to be around. I’ve been there, done that, bought the T-shirt, and moved on. Do yourself and your family a favor — figure out what self-care means to you and strategize with your spouse or significant other about how you can achieve that without unduly burdening other family members. It’s all about taking care of you–if you’re not willing to do that, who will?
Copyright 2006 Donna Gunter