Monthly Archives: September 2018

Move over failure, there’s a new guy in town…

Why do people feel like they are failing when they are actually achieving so much?  Never in the history of humanity have we been so highly functioning, yet we have so many people feeling like a failure, feeling depressed and anxious.

I don’t allow myself to use the word ‘failure’ because there is nothing helpful that comes from it.  I’ve gone through a really tough few years, on the edge of a breakdown, battling with depression and anxiety, but thanks to that, I have worked out what makes me happy and how truly resilient we can be when pushed to the extreme.

I’ve also given myself permission to be happy – sounds silly when you write it down, but we all have a right to be happy.  All of us think we should be achieving more, working harder, earning more money, going out more, seeing friends more often etc, etc, without actually allowing ourselves to be happy with what we have right now.

True happiness comes in acknowledging the things we achieve each day, taking pleasure in the small things and making plans and goals for the future.  My very wise partner once said to me, “You can’t be happy all the time”, and how true that is.  It struck me in that moment that I’d been striving for the wrong thing – we should be aiming to be content in life, with peaks of happiness, and hopefully only a few troughs of unhappiness, along the way.  It is impossible to be happy all the time as this is not a natural state of existence!

Life for me is more challenging than I ever thought possible, but honestly, I’ve never been happier (more content!)  I’ve learnt to treasure the small things, like eating my breakfast in bed whilst reading my book; having a glass of wine with my partner, talking about our week and planning for our future; watching the sunset from my bedroom window; listening to my children snore after a busy day; hanging out the washing whilst the sun shines on my back.  It sounds a bit cheesy, but through the midst of all the stress, you need those moments to get you through!

And I’m slowly learning to congratulate myself on my achievements each week – even when I’m asleep at 9:30pm each night, I feel happy in simply having made it through another day.  Did my children have clean clothes to wear today?  Did I feed myself and my kids today?  Did we get to nursery/school/work on time?  Then I achieved something today!

Unfortunately, it is all too easy these days to compare ourselves to others and what others ‘have’.  What I’ve learnt is that I don’t really care what others have, because those things aren’t the things that make me happy.  I don’t want a high flying career; I don’t want time to go running each day; I don’t want to sit having my hair done each month.  Those things make other people happy, but they aren’t for me, and that’s okay.  I don’t judge others on what they choose to do with their time, I’ve just stopped wanting what other people have, choosing to focus on the things that I want in my life.

So how do we find contentment in our daily lives and a sense of achievement instead of failure?

At the end of each day, write down 3-5 things you have achieved that day.  This must start with the small things – did a load of washing, made that appointment, made a home cooked meal, did some work – whether paid employment or cared for children if you’re a stay at home parent – got the kids to school on time.  And then you can write down the bigger ones – went to the gym, finished an assignment, completed a project, taught your child how to do something new, called a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while.  When you start to write things down on paper, you’ll see how much you have actually achieved in your day!

And here’s where the change comes – each week, write down the things you would like to achieve in the next week (your goals) – small and bigger things – note, we are not calling them the things you haven’t achieved this week, just a focus for your time in the coming week.   By calling them goals, instead of things we haven’t achieved yet, we remove the sense of failure.

Celebrating our achievements gives us a sense of pride, it allows us to take satisfaction in our daily life and brings meaning into the every day tasks.  Setting a focus gives us a sense of purpose and direction and having smaller goals allows us the opportunity to celebrate our achievements more often.  Once we get used to setting smaller goals for ourselves, we can set bigger, longer term goals and then you’ll be amazed what you can achieve!

We can all find contentment and happiness and we all deserve to – let’s get rid of failure all together.

p.s. I would highly recommend reading ‘Man’s search for meaning’ by Viktor E. Frankl – changed my whole perspective on things.

Advertisements

So many plates, I could have joined the circus

Sometimes the things you read on Facebook catch you unawares. I read this really powerful article yesterday about how women are struggling to get everything done in a world that demands so much of us. It expressed so well how I’ve been feeling over the last few months and mirrors the conversations I’ve had with so many female friends struggling with their daily grind.

I’m grateful that my friends and I can talk honestly about how we feel, but I know there are probably things we don’t share with one another – from fear of being judged, being embarrassed, not wanting to articulate something so we have to actually acknowledge it and so on…

I am someone who is always on the go, usually running late from trying to squeeze one last job in, constantly thinking, worrying about everything, and planning months in advance to make sure I don’t drop any of the million plates I’m juggling. I constantly worry about getting everything done, getting everything right and set ridiculous goals for myself. I very rarely drop these plates, but if I do, I spend a ridiculous amount of time feeling guilty – usually no-one is impacted but me!

I work 4 days a week to ensure me and my family have money to survive, I moved in with my Grandma last year to take some financial pressure off myself when my marriage ended, which means I now have a 1.5 hour commute to do the school run, before my work day even starts. I have two disabled children who have medical/physical appointments a few times a month – doubled because there are two of them and I can’t take them together since they distract each other so much. It would be comical if we weren’t trying to achieve such important life milestones that they are taking longer to reach (or inchstones as our Williams Syndrome family like to call them).

I am blessed to have such a wonderful team of specialists looking after them – Occupational Therapy, Speech and Language, the Health Visiting Team, Advisory Teaching Service, Paediatricians, Cardiology, Orthoptics, SENCos and their amazing childminders and nursery staff – all setting goals for them to achieve, which we are supposed to work on at home each week, when I’ve finished my 32 hours at work, done the 1.5 hour school run, cooked a healthy meal from scratch, exercised, read a book, spent time with my partner, helped Grandma around the house, done the food shopping, arranged some more appointments and caught up with friends. That’s quite a lot to squeeze into a day! Oh yes, and I was supposed to fit sleep in somewhere.

And then there’s my 6-year-old son, who is such an amazing big brother to the twins. He has learnt quickly that he often has to wait if he needs something because the twins can’t do anything for themselves at 4 years old; that it is quicker to do things himself and has turned into an independent young man who gets himself ready every morning; he’s learnt that the twins are constantly up to mischief and he has to be my ally to make sure we don’t wreck Grandma’s house beyond repair; who is sometimes angry at the world and can’t articulate his frustrations without shouting and screaming because he doesn’t know how; who is missing out on things that single children have because I have to split my time across all three and two of them have additional needs.

And then there is my partner – he leaves the house at 5:30am every day and works 15+ hour days, sometimes getting just a few hours sleep. I want to make sure he feels supported and loved, so we can enjoy this crazy life together – to make sure that we not only last amongst all our other pulls and stresses, but we grow and thrive too.

And then there is my travels – the little bug that sits constantly in my blood. I’ve learnt that having time to do actually do one of my true passions in life and sharing this quality time with my partner is extremely important to my happiness. There is the guilt of spending money when I think I should be saving, but then comes the acknowledgement that if I don’t switch my brain off for a few days every couple of months, I am actually going to implode on myself and have a mental breakdown.

I worry what would happen if I wasn’t here to do all of these things and then I remind myself that I wouldn’t be here to worry about that, so that’s one less thing on my list of things to worry about.

After each week that we survive, there is the niggle that tells me I should be grateful for my life – and believe me, I am so grateful for the many blessings I have. I know things could be worse and I know we have things so much better than a lot of people – but just sometimes, I wish it wouldn’t feel like a constant uphill climb. I know I’m not alone – it seems a common conversation these days – and I know sometimes, it is me that needs to put some of the plates down and save them for another time.

I want us women to keep talking about how we are, to keep helping and supporting one another and not putting others down if their choices in this demanding world are different from ours.

Sometimes all we need to hear from each other, is that we are doing a good job.