How to Create More Time to Focus on What Really Matters While Ditching the Guilt!
With Motivational Speaker Connie Podesta
In a world that’s spinning at about 1,000 miles an hour (and 1,000 things at once) for most women, that whole elusive concept of ‘Life Balance’ seems like quite the slippery slope! So we wanted to tap into the humor, how-to’s and success strategies from one of the world’s top motivational speakers, award winning authors, and an expert in the psychology of human behavior as it relates to relationships, change, communication, and life balance. – Connie Podesta.
Q: Connie, as you know there’s a lot of pressure out there today to bring our best selves to the table – both personally and professionally. For many women though, that whole idea that you can bring your personal life and professional life into some sort of harmonious balance is a struggle they wrestle with constantly. What’s your take? Is it TRULY attainable or just a MYTH?
A: The real question is — how does anyone stay sane in a world where no one seemingly sleeps or takes vacation time? Today, change happens at the click of a mouse. We have to be able to eat, talk, e-mail and text all at the same time! And for 80% of people (most of those women)– Cell phones are never more than five feet away 24/7. The truth is? You CAN’T manage TIME—ONLY how you CHOOSE to USE the time you have. Therefore, you have to begin by RE-DEFINING BALANCE. The reality is you don’t have a professional life and a personal life—you have a LIFE. Honestly, there is NO WAY we can ever equalize all the amazing, moving parts that make up our own unique life. Some days your job is awesome and you get home to chaos. Or the reverse – work was insane, but you come home to people who love you and have your back. Bottom line: Achieving balance isn’t about making time EQUAL in the different areas of your life and with the important people in your life – it’s about finding a sense of well-being, self-respect, fulfillment and HAPPINESS within yourself that will allow you to truly embrace what is going on in your life at each moment. When you are able to redefine what ‘balance’ truly means and let go of the ‘myth’ that it all has to be equal – you’ll find more peace than you thought possible—even on hectic days when life seems a bit overwhelming.
Q: Do you think that women, more than men, try harder to be perfect and that causes them to feel unbalanced?
A: Oh definitely! Ladies… let’s admit it. We are harder on ourselves than anyone else ever could be. It’s not that men don’t care if they do a good job—they do. But they are far more tolerant and forgiving of themselves than we are. (You don’t see men asking if their butts (or their gut) look too big-do you?) We are constantly trying to be everything to everybody. We have decided it is OUR responsibility to take care of everything and everyone. “But, if not me, then who,” you ask? One of our jobs is to TEACH responsibility—and we can’t do that if we are always rescuing, taking over, reading minds, and doing everyone else’s work for them. It is exhausting. And it’s time to STOP. Playing the martyr does no one any good—especially ourselves. Let’s face it—if YOU aren’t HAPPY, then no one is really happy. Now’s the time to be comfortable being YOU. Not apologetic, making excuses or defending who you are (which are three things women do a lot!) It’s time to toss out that idea that you have to live up to someone ELSE’S idea of perfection because, frankly, perfection is overrated and impossible. Instead start by being YOUR OWN BEST FRIEND instead of your worst enemy. Kick the negative self-criticism to the curb and knock off worrying about what others will think and the feeling that no matter what you do it is not enough. And if you can’t do it, find a friend who will set you straight every time you start down that path.
Q: Connie, why is having an OVERALL sense of balance important?
A: Because the opposite of peace, harmony and balance is anger, worry, guilt, depression, and anxiety. These five energy-zapping emotions reflect a life that is out of sync, unbalanced and in crisis. Women tend to carry the weight of the world on their shoulders—even when they aren’t asked or expected to do so. Finding your sense of overall balance means having the courage and determination to DECIDE to ACT, rather than REACT when life throws us a curveball (or a hurricane). To be happier and healthier? You have to CHOOSE to stay FOCUSED and connected to the POSITIVE things you CAN change rather than the five emotions above which are literally the toughest for our brains to process. They’re like vampires! They suck up all the brain’s bandwidth and leave the body to fend for itself. That means, every organ in your body has to pull out all the stops just to keep going and there’s no energy left to create positive thoughts, master amazing ideas, or even reach out to someone you love.
When you find yourself giving in to these energy drainers– STOP. Regroup. Take a few minutes (or as long as you need) and FOCUS on the good stuff. Women can get totally caught up thinking and re-thinking about something scary, worrisome, sad, depressing, guilt-producing (and the list goes on)—STOP! Don’t allow your mind to mess up your day; refuse to let the negative thoughts continue. Stop re-playing what went wrong, or what you did wrong, or what might go wrong. JUST DON’T GO THERE! YOU have more control over your mind that you think —honestly you do.
Q: Guilt. Boy this is a biggie for women-right? We feel guilty about time. Family. Friends. Obligations. And about not being able to be ‘enough–’ not just for the people around us – but sometimes even ourselves. What’s your best advice to women who find themselves often dealing with GUILT?
A: Ahhh…GUILT. The ultimate drain on life, love, happiness, financial security and success. Too often we desperately try to hold on to things like toxic relationships. Old habits. Sad memories. Hurtful experiences. Woulda, coulda, shoulda’s. GUILT happens when we live in the past rather than the present. It always goes back to messages, perceptions and expectations that were formed years ago. But it always boils down to one destructive thought: that we are not good enough. Which is a terrible burden to carry around. That perception affects everything you do. How you communicate. Relate to other people. Make love. Raise children. Perform on the job. Stay healthy. And it ALWAYS leads to a life out of balance and in the end: unhappiness.
So here’s the deal. Be good to yourself and LET GO! Forget what you think you should be and ask yourself: what do YOU want to be? And how can you make that happen. Starting now. Scary? You bet. But I promise you this, holding on to GUILT does no one—especially YOU, any good at all. In fact GUILT literally sucks all the creative, positive, productive energy right out of you. Letting go is about HOPE, FORGIVENESS, and taking a stand AGAINST being anything other than WHO YOU WANT TO BE! Bottom line: People will treat you exactly the way YOU believe you deserve to be treated. It all starts with YOU!!
Q: I heard you have a much different take on GOAL SETTING than most motivational speakers. While goals are ‘supposed’ to be motivators, they can leave many people feeling like they just don’t measure up. Your take?
A: Truth is: I am NOT a goal setter. Nope, not in the least. For all of you left-brainers (and maybe a bit obsessive-compulsive) people out there, I’m sure making your daily to-do lists and quarterly goals make an organized life possible. But me? Doesn’t work. Frankly, I’m more of a ‘take the world as it comes’ kind of gal, and I like it that way. It gives me more freedom to roll with the punches, choose new paths, open new doors and see opportunities where I otherwise might not if I were focused solely on “the goals.” Plus, I just don’t like the pressure. You know? That whole ‘what if I fail’ mindset that some people get when they are completely wrapped up in the “I’ve got to lose 10 pounds by October” mindset. The problem with goals is that most people either overestimate themselves or underestimate themselves. Both of which wreak havoc on the outcome of any goals you might set. More times than not people get so caught up in the stress to accomplish a goal – the goal goes right out the window anyway! I’ve found when you take the goals off the table and focus instead on your STRENGTHS, on leveraging new skills and adopting the right mindsets – the goals? They take care of themselves anyway. And your sense of balance? All the better for it! So go ahead. I double dog dare you! Give ‘NO GOALS’ a whirl for a week. I’d love to hear how it works for you!
Q: I have often heard you say that balanced people are healthier people. What is the connection?
A: Every piece of research shows that adopting a sense of HAPPINESS and overall balance into your life can absolutely have a positive effect on your health in zillions of ways. Every organ in your body thrives on HAPPINESS. It allows you to be calmer, sleep better, eat healthier, exercise more, and make better choices all around when it comes to YOUR life. UNHAPPINESS does the exact opposite. It attracts illness. Lowers your immune system so you can’t resist disease. Stockpiles nature’s all-natural good–feeling chemicals, such as endorphins, instead of releasing them into your system and it depresses your body’s ability to create antibodies. Wow! The cool thing is? We get to CHOOSE what we focus on. I’m going for the HAPPINESS thing – how about you?
Q: Any last words of advice?
A: Yes. Be good to yourself. Good grief, there are way too many critics in the world already without us lending our voice to the mix. Out with the old negative thoughts and self-talk and in with affirming the best parts of you. As a woman. A partner. Mother. Sister. Friend. Business person. Trust me – you’ll be better at all the roles in your life when you learn to let go of the guilt, give status quo the boot and be your own best advocate. It’s empowerment like you won’t believe. And while that BALANCE thing is always going to be something of a teeter-totter – you’ll have more fun along the way. You’ll discover things you’ve never even knew. And you’ll be a heck of a lot happier in the long run. So what do you say? You up for a little POSITIVE CHANGE? (It really is one of the secrets to success!)
Thanks so much Connie for your insights and ideas on women and life-balance. We look forward to reading more from you! If you’d like to learn more about Connie and her STANDOUT strategies for success both personally and professionally, visit her site online at www.conniepodesta.com! Don’t forget to join in the conversation daily too – by friending her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/Connie.Speaks and following her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/Connie_Podesta.