Do you ever look at incredible women like Joanna Gaines and think…”How does this woman do it all? HOW on earth does she have 5 kids, a husband, 295 businesses, and still take care of herself?”
Well, the real answer to that question is that we don’t know if she is taking care of herself (unless you’re a friend of Joanna’s, then in that case, please tell her I say hello and she’s my idol).
What that question is really saying about our thoughts is that we’re feeling unfulfilled. We are feeling like we want (or have) all those same things but are hanging on by a thread and can’t possibly comprehend how others balance it successfully.
I know you because I’ve been you. Dreaming of having time freedom while still doing what you love, being present with your family, and feeling totally fulfilled in your own identity. You’re a powerhouse, high achieving woman who wants to do all the things because you love to, but you’re bordering (or maybe even at) burnout.
Maybe you started your own business because you wanted to work less hours and be with your kids more while they’re still young. But let’s get real here: Running your own business can end up taking MORE hours away from your family than if you were working for someone else. Well, shoot…that backfired, huh?
Maybe you’re climbing the corporate ladder and totally loving your career, but you’re at a point where you realize you’re not doing any of the things you wanted to make all that money for. You’re not traveling, you’re not taking time off to be with your kids, you’re not doing your monthly massages that you know benefit your personal health. So now you’re stuck wondering, “Why did I want all this if I’m not feeling in love with my life?”
I’m here to tell you: There’s nothing wrong with you. You’re not broken. You’re not in the wrong for longing for more or different.
The problem is the expectations the society we live in has on us as mothers. We’re told that we’re only good enough if we’re bringing in equal (or more) pay as our partner while also volunteering at the school bake sale and signing our kids up for 47 activities and being expected to attend them all. Add onto that the idea that we’re also supposed to be the ones making dinner, scheduling the doctor’s appointments, cleaning the house, and making time for our own “self-care”.
IT'S NO WONDER YOU ARE STRUGGLING TO FEEL HAPPY WITH WHERE YOU’RE AT! It’s not possible to be doing all those things and not feel like you’re burning at both ends.
I could rant on about this for hours, but I know you want me to get to the “well, what do I do about it?” part. First, we need to build a foundation.
Go grab a glass of your favorite Sauvignon Blanc and take a seat on the couch. No, really – do it. Let’s work through a little exercise.
I want you to close your eyes and imagine what life looks like without all the pressure; the pressure to enroll your children in everything, the pressure to be the only person who can do all the things at work, the pressure to fit in a fitness routine before the kids wake in the morning. Does it look like getting dinner a night a week with your friends? Maybe taking up a yoga class because you’ve always wanted to try it? Or easing into your morning with a slow, peaceful routine once the kids are at daycare? Are you simply able to breathe?
This part of the process is crucial. If you don’t know how you want to feel on the other side of this burnout, how will you push yourself past the hard times?
Once you have an idea of what you want life to look like (bonus points if you write it down), it’s time to recognize what your core values are. We often hear of businesses having core values but don’t realize this is something we can have as individuals as well. Having core values (which can change depending on your season of life) will help you to prioritize what you truly want in your life and what can go.
For example, my personal core values are Family, Adventure, and Curiosity. Don’t overthink this. Google examples and choose a few that resonate with you. Once you have them, keep them on a sticky note on your desk, on your phone, by your bed, wherever you’ll see them often.
Now that you have that foundation down, it’s time to rebuild your brain based upon how you want it to look. Yup, you heard that right. You can retrain your brain as you please.
The science behind retraining your brain is called neuroplasticity, which is the brain’s ability to modify, change, and adapt in response to experience. Your brain can literally form new connections and pathways based on changes in situations or environment. At birth, an infant’s brain has about 7,500 connections with other neurons, and by the age of 2 the brain’s neurons have more than doubled that. While this ability is lower in strength in adulthood, it is not absent. Learning to play the piano creates new pathways in your brain just as therapy and rehabilitation can help your brain relearn an ability it has lost due to trauma by repairing or creating new connections.
In the case of wanting to retrain your brain to create better balance (I actually prefer the word harmony because balance makes it seem like everything is equal energy all the time), this starts with negative beliefs and thought patterns. What negative beliefs are keeping you in the place you’re in now? “I have to make x amount of money or I won’t be contributing the way I should be”? “I don’t have the resources to hire help”? “If I don’t volunteer at my daughter’s school, I’ll be the bad mom”?
Take a few minutes to think of the common negative thought patterns that come up for you and write them down. Don’t skip the writing them down part.
Next, I want you to go through each belief and rewrite them so that they will affect your attitude in a positive way and align with your core values. For example, if you want to spend more time with your family but are feeling overwhelmed by all there is to do with your business, “I don’t have the resources to hire help” can be turned into “I don’t know yet how I can hire help, but I am going to get scrappy and figure it out”. Or if you really value your time at work, thinking “I’m a bad mom if I don’t volunteer at my daughter’s school” can look like “I don’t enjoy volunteering at her school and that’s okay. I love my work and I’m present with my daughter during our family time”.
Each time you have one of those thoughts come up, take a deep breath, and spin it into your positive thought. At first it will feel forced to recite those positive thoughts, but over time it will become your norm. And as those thoughts become your norm, you’ll find it easier and easier to say no to things that aren’t aligning with your values, leaving your calendar with much more room to breathe (and room for YOU).
I remember exactly where I was when the first positive thought pattern I had been practicing came into my head without force. I was listening to a podcast episode about something specific to my business, and instead of the usual thought of “I’m not good enough to try that”, my immediate thought was “I can definitely do that!”. It was a full stop moment for me. I had officially rewired that negative thought pattern in my brain, and it was glorious.
You have the power to see things and respond deliberately and effectively. With a little practice, you can cultivate the feelings you desire for your life. You can successfully rewire your brain to form thought patterns and habits that guide you to a life that feels balanced for the season you’re in. Remember, balance is fluid – wherever you find happiness and harmony is where your balance is right now.
So what are you waiting for? How are you going to start retraining your brain today? Shoot me a message on Instagram and let me know!
Adriana Keefe is an award-winning real estate dropout turned Life and Manifestation Coach who teaches high achieving women how to create life balance without sacrificing their goals. She is a wife and mother of 3 children, lover of wine and “New Girl”, and host of the podcast Women Who Want More. She strives to coach through an entire mind, body, and soul experience and teaches through 1:1 coaching, workshops, and speaking events.