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Balancing Who You Are With What You Do

Feeling Stretched

The pandemic has revealed quite a few things that have nothing to do with a cough or fever.

The roles composing my daily life are not static. I see this now in a way that I didn’t appreciate before the pandemic. There were hints, double booked appointments, hours playing chauffeur to the tweens while listening in on another committee meeting.

When the pandemic erupted, my belief that I had carefully curated a life that was in fine balance got a punch of reality. Even before the pandemic, I knew that I carried a disproportionate amount of household and childcare duties. I had often referred to myself as the default parent, the one who kept my family finely calibrated and on track.

However, prior to the pandemic, I could carry out my wife/mom/ roles while keeping focused on my career. The wife/mom roles occupied discreet spaces in the same bucket as other roles such as coach and psychiatrist. Enter SARS-CoV-2 and suddenly, the distinction between the roles merged.

Gone were the 6 hours of uninterrupted work time that defined my pre-COVID life. The porous boundaries between my work and personal lives left me feeling adrift.

Many working moms have felt stretched to their limits over the last several months. As mom CEO’s, we occupy multiple roles in our daily lives trying to give 100% to every single one of them. While this can feel necessary in the moment, it isn’t sustainable in the long-term.

For many of us, the pandemic has only intensified how stressed and stretched we feel. On top of that, it seems that men and women continue to experience the dynamic between their working lives and personal lives differently. The pandemic has only intensified how stark the inequities between working mom and dads are.

A new study revealed imbalances that were intensified by the COVID pandemic:

• Women carry a greater load of childcare responsibilities in the home than men

• Women were more likely than men to reduce their work hours

• Women were more likely than men to exit the workforce

• Women were more likely than men to experience psychological distress

It’s not just that the pandemic created new problems. It also magnified problems that were already there. Women have been disproportionately impacted by major life stressors at home and in the workplace.

Sorting it out

So given the situation we now find ourselves in, what can we do about it? A start is stepping back and gathering some data on who we are.

  • Spouse

  • Mother

  • Christian

  • Coach

  • Psychiatrist

  • Writer

  • Daughter

  • Friend

  • Colleague

When I try to give my attention to all of these all of the time, I feel frustrated, depleted, and ineffective. I’ve realized that I need to be more strategic about how I engage in the different areas of my life.

Paying Attention

Much of the change needs to be systemic. Our society has been slow to accept the changing nature of how women occupy various roles. Support and advocacy inequities persist.

However, individually, we can examine how we live our lives looking for opportunities to make shifts that will allow for greater life satisfaction and sustainability.

Roles are labels for the things we do, they don’t define who we are. Knowing who you are helps you decide how to show up for the things that you do.

Understanding who you are is all about getting clear on your identity. Your self-identity is grounded in your personal values. Your values represent your deeply held beliefs. While your self-identity may be grounded in your values, your daily behaviors might not reflect these values.

For example, a value might be staying healthy. But you may find yourself so busy that you are only able to squeeze in 6 hours of sleep each night and often feel tired. Maybe you know what’s important, but your behaviors and values are mismatched. You are out of alignment with your identity.

Roles are labels for the things we do, they don’t define who we are. Knowing who you are helps you decide how to show up for the things that you do.

Getting it Straight

Whether or not you are feeling off because COVID has stretched you beyond your limits, or you realize that your identity and values were out of alignment before the pandemic began, there are some steps you can take right now to start changing your behaviors:

  1. Start by naming your core values.

  2. Ask yourself, “What do my daily behaviors say about the roles I occupy?”

  3. Ask yourself, “Do the roles that I occupy reflect my values?”

  4. Explore what changes you can make to get in better alignment.

I’ll give you an example. Health and family are two of my core values. Over a period of time, I found myself going to bed later and later, waking up tired each day. I wasn’t putting a limit on how late I worked. I was also trying to make sure that I spent enough time with my kids and left time at the end of the evening to spend with my husband.

While all of these activities felt important, when I took a closer look, they didn’t all line up with my values. In other words, nowhere on my list of values was computer time listed before family time or health. So, I set a computer shut off time each day. I physically close my computer and put it in my office. I put my work self on the shelf for the day.

This simple boundary allows me to focus on those things that align with my values (health and family). I get to spend quality time with my family and get to bed at a time that allows me to get a full night’s rest.

If I’m being honest, this doesn’t always work so perfectly, because life is life. But the awareness and attention to it has been life changing.

I encourage you to take some time to dig in to how your values and behavior line up. You don’t have to do this alone. Knowing how important this is, I coach women on how to live in greater alignment with their values.

Do you want to get a head start? If you’re ready to begin identifying your core values, contact me for a free 1:1 discovery call.


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