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Having MY All

I read a Pando Daily blog post a few weeks ago that really resonated.  It was about one of the media’s favorite topics these days – Sheryl Sandberg’s release of Lean In and launch of http://leanin.org/ (don’t worry, this isn’t about the raging debate about women in the workplace, I promise).  Among other great arguments, in a funny and direct and real way, author and entrepreneur Sarah Lacy doles out her own advice to young women trying to figure it all out: “don’t listen too much to any advice.”  She makes the refreshing point that each of us has a different life.  Our VERY OWN TOTALLY UNIQUE life.  We have different skills and different financial situations and different partners and different children and different challenges and different successes and different needs and different priorities.  “Having it all” does not mean the same thing to every woman (how could it? we’re not robots), so maybe the most important question to focus on is what it means for each of us to “have it all,” and what we need to do to make that happen.

This has been my perspective on life for a long time, but even more so since becoming a parent (this is true for anything that takes a significant amount of time).  In fact, it’s the foundation of wellfesto – the belief that (within reason) we can manifest our true selves and design healthy lives.  Lives we want and loves we love.  It just takes some thought and planning and discipline and work.  But the truth is, this work is hard to do without any structure or examples or role models.  So to try to make it easier, we all too often look to people we deem “successful” and try to design lives (or bodies, relationships, work, etc) that resemble theirs, rather than just focusing on what we really want.

So what does focusing on what we really want look like?  Here are a few of the questions I ask myself when I’m thinking about how to prioritize trade-offs:

Exercise

  • How important is exercise to me and why?
  • How am I doing TODAY in this dimension of my life?
  • What physical activities do I absolutely love to do?  Am I doing these enough?

Food

  • How important to me is the food I eat and why?
  • How am I doing TODAY in this dimension of my life?
  • How much time do I have to focus on food?  How can I stick to my beliefs within these time constraints?
  • What foods make me feel good?  How can I get more of those into my diet?

Mind

  • How am I doing TODAY in this dimension of my life?
  • How much time am I spending thinking about doing things versus actually doing them?
  • How stressed do I feel, and what helps me relieve stress?
  • Am I sleeping enough?

Relationships

  • How am I doing TODAY in this dimension of my life?
  • Who are the most important people in my life, and am I seeing them often enough?
  • Am I able to be present, and give the people around me what they need from me (are my relationships 2-way streets)?
  • Are my connections diverse (in age, experience, world view, etc)?

Purpose/Work

  • How am I doing TODAY in this dimension of my life?
  • How confident am I that I have a strong purpose I believe in?
  • How well does my work — where I work, what I do all day long, and the people I work with — align with who I really am?
  • How well does my work support other parts of my well-being (exercise, food, mind, relationships)?  Can I do walking meetings?  Do I have time to eat a peaceful meal?  Do I have friends at work?  Am I learning?

These are just a few questions to help me think about how I’m spending my time and energy.  I don’t ask them every day, or even on any sort of a schedule.  I come back to these when my life feels like it’s out of whack…when I need grounding and re-direction and reminders about what matters most.  These questions help me figure out whether I’m overindexing on things that aren’t important to me, or things that aren’t helping other people.  They help me assess whether there are ways I can be more efficient with my time (combining exercise and work, for example).  And most importantly, they help me make decisions so that I can have MY all, not anyone else’s.

What’s your “all?”  What does having it all mean for you?  Are these questions helpful?  What would you add to the list?

4 Comments Post a comment
  1. Es #

    My all this moment is surviving through the day!!!!!

    March 13, 2013
  2. I read that same post (I actually know Sarah pretty well – we went to high school together!) and I think her point was spot-on. As for myself, I often ask similar questions as you, and when I’ve been in funk periods of my life, making a list of my priorities and finding actionable ways to accomplish them REALLY helps me. (Even things as simple as: I feel bad about my weak core, mushy stomach, etc so I’m going to sign up for Pilates).

    March 13, 2013
  3. Great article! I love those questions. In my therapy sessions, my therapist has me asks questions very similar to those. Asking yourself questions and why really can help you gain a lot of insight on your inner being and your emotions. Nice blog!

    December 7, 2013

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