So your life looks perfect on paper. Business is good, you have a loving partner, and the kids/fur babies are doing well. Yet too often, you feel like you are in mental fog that hangs over parts of your day and often comes coupled with an impending sense of doom about the future.
Can you ever relate?
We often measure success by the things we can see — money, friends, significant others, a house in the right school district, the number of volunteer gigs we do each month. All of these things (and tons more) are important, but all too often, we try to fit them into our lives all at once, thinking that is the only way to feel like smart, successful businesswomen, partners, and mothers. What we’re left with instead is F.O.G.: fear, obligation, and guilt. And F.O.G. can put everything from your business to your own health in jeopardy if you continue blindly driving through it.
It could look like this (true story):
A few years ago, I had that “perfect” life on paper. I was also racing back after a volunteer committee meeting I didn’t really have the energy to attend after a full day of emails, calls, meetings, and parenting. Some ways into that trip back home down the dark road, I felt the car jolt, stop, then refuse to back up.
Without even realizing it, I had driven off the road and lodged my car between two trees. As I came to discover soon after, I had been so tired and distracted I had been driving down a dark, rural road without my brights on and hadn’t even noticed.
That night, it wasn’t my physical body that took the hit. It was my mental well being that shattered, and I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that something had to change.
You don’t have to crash your car or have a breakdown to have an effective wakeup call. If you are overworked, overwhelmed, and, let’s be honest, over it, consider this permission granted guide a wakeup call tailor-made (with love) to help you break free of those feelings and through your F.O.G.
Shift happens. Change starts with you giving yourself permission to make the changes you need in your life to know what you want then own what you want. No one else is going to grant you that permission, and in fact, most of the time the people around you aren’t even aware of your mental F.O.G. It’s up to you to take the next action, starting with the following steps:
Strengthen Your Foundation
Most of us are familiar with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, a psychological theory that shows a trajectory of growth in humans. Abraham Maslow, who invented the theory, used terms like “physiological,” “safety,” “esteem,” “self-actualization,” and “self-transcendence” to describe the pattern that human motivations usually move through.
As it turns out, the road to self-actualization involves much more than a good salary, a big house, or even a healthy family. It starts before that, with your basic needs. We cannot get what we want if we do not get what we need, in either life or business. So first, we need to make sure our own personal foundations are rock solid.
Physical health is something we all love to talk about but aren’t always so great at doing. Take lunch: Do you make time to eat clean, whole foods or are you rushing to the drive-thru? Or do you forget to eat? Is working out a healthy habit or a self-torture exercise you only occasionally get to? In order to thrive in life and business, you need to first diagnose your problems, and sometimes they’re as simple as not making adequate time for nourishment, exercise, and, of course, sleep.
Personal growth, meanwhile, rarely makes it on anyone’s to-do list, but it’s a vital part of living a successful, purposeful life. Personal growth is all about building up your value and your values. That could be adding a new skill for work, such as better budgeting. It could also be something far less tangible, like practicing patience with your family or taking steps to overcome a particular fear. Or, cutting things out so you have more time to just be.
For years, fun was always an afterthought for me. But as my car accident story shows, not taking time to relax and enjoy myself was clearly affecting my overall well-being. We must take time to enjoy ourselves, whether that’s recreational activities, relaxing at home, or visiting with friends. When I lived in California, I had a standing date each week with a girlfriend where we would meet up, walk the beach together, and chat about everything — work, spouses, the weather, kids, clothes. There was no agenda tied to these dates, and the mental break they provided always left me feeling refreshed enough to continue with the rest of the day’s tasks. You have to schedule fun to make fun happen!
Create a Code of Conduct
One way to build up your value and values is to live by a code of conduct you create for yourself. This is a design for living that should inform nearly every other aspect of your life, both business or personal. It should encompass, in broad terms, what’s important to you and only you.
For example, my code of conduct is “learn, give, grow, love,” and I make it a point throughout the week to practice these things, whether it’s growing a relationship with a new client, practicing love for the people around me, giving time out of my day to spend with my daughter or consciously learning an important lesson.
If used thoughtfully, your code of conduct can inform all kinds of decisions you have to make on a day-to-day basis. It can help you choose the right clients to work with or even which city you want to live in. A code can be your guide when it comes to knowing how to respond in an argument with a friend or coworker. And it can help you know when you’ve taken on too many meetings, projects, and other events and it’s time to say enough is enough.
Speaking of which . . .
Learn How to Say “No” Purposefully
One of the reasons we suffer from F.O.G. in the first place is that we have a hard time saying “no” to things. The night of my car accident, I was on my way to a volunteer meeting I should have passed on to begin with. I was too mentally and physically fatigued to be going out that night. I was also hampered by guilt over the prospect of not going. But as we have learned from that story, neither guilt nor obligation wound up serving me well.
You can practice saying “no” by designing a catch-phrase for yourself. “That does not work for me” is one I often use as a way of saying no to events and activities that might look great on paper but won’t contribute to my overall value or code of conduct. And they certainly won’t boost my overall health and peace of mind. I don’t always say “that does not work for me” out loud, but I do use it as my internal yes/no button so often. And it does work wonders when you actually verbalize the words in times of need!
Saying no also means remembering the word is a complete sentence. Too often, I see women over-explain their decisions. In reality, you don’t owe anybody an explanation for your choices. Know what you want, own what you want.
Start Your Permission Mission
At the end of the day, success is getting what we want. But happiness is wanting what we get. Giving yourself permission to change the things that are making you unhappy, the things casting that murky F.O.G. over each morning, is the first step towards realizing that happiness. Aided by a strong foundation and an even stronger code of conduct, you’ll start to feel less obligated to make your life look paper-perfect, and more able to live in the present surrounded by the people, actions, and attributes that matter most to you.
Most content ends with the creator trying to sell you something, not happening here! I started my mission to help more women create the lifestyles they want and deserve after I saw too many of my female clients surviving when they needed to be thriving. Our work is our vehicle to drive our personal and professional lives in the direction we want to fuel all we desire. We love helping women get on the right path with a clear map and directions.
What I want is for you is for you to respect yourself so you attract more respect and wildly wonderful wonderfulness in your life.
Here’s to your wild success!