The life of a working mom is filled with so many things:
It just goes on, and on, and on…
Does this list look like your typical day? Is there anything missing? Because I see one GLARING, ACHINGLY, BIG item missing: time for you.
To be honest, it breaks my heart that this is the case for so many successful working moms. Prioritizing themselves seldom makes the list, and when it does, it’s so far down at the bottom that self-care is often overlooked or undertaken in a totally half-hearted, rushed, “check this off the box” way.
WebMD describes burnout as a form of exhaustion caused by constantly feeling swamped, and it results from excessive and prolonged emotional, physical, and mental stress. In many cases, burnout is related to one’s job. Burnout happens when you’re overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to keep up with life’s incessant demands.
Late last year, Maven released a study that said 1 in 4 working parents are currently experiencing burnout. I suppose maybe it’s a good thing to point out that you aren’t alone. However, I think it’s better to point out that you can do some things to help with burnout.
The best advice that I can give is to address burnout before it becomes BURNED OUT!
There are many ideas and suggestions about how to prevent burnout. Everything from building in regular time for yourself into your schedule to learning to negotiate at work for anything from more time off and better assignments, to hiring an assistant to help lessen your workload. Another tactic includes understanding and respecting your limits – while you may really WANT to host your best friend for a fancy homecooked meal – a reservation at a nice restaurant can accomplish the same thing – spending time with someone you value!
One of the most significant factors for working women to avoid burnout is finding support – at all places in their life: home, work, friends – having people to talk to, that understand what you are going through and genuinely support you, can make dealing with a busy load much more manageable.
There are so many women I talk to regularly that seem to have a very different image of themselves than everyone around them. It is staggering.
So many women share their doubts about mothering – constantly worrying that they aren’t doing a good enough job. Meanwhile, they have intelligent, engaged children – who love their moms. Just think, how many times have you seen a social media post that begins with “I’m a terrible mom….?”
Then there are women who second-guess how they’ve landed that V.P. role at work. When I question them, they all seem to know what they are doing; they’ve all put in hard work, they continue to educate themselves, and innovate in their roles. Yet, they are constantly wondering how they got so lucky to have a great job with an excellent salary. They also spend a lot of time concerned that their colleagues think they must be a fraud. However, when I ask them what their colleagues say or what their performance evaluations reveal, they usually sheepishly indicate that they are doing a great job!
When it comes to time for spouses, sisters, best friends, many women continue down the same path of self-doubt. They don’t think they do enough, spend enough time, care enough.
It’s an ugly ball of self-doubt that has been allowed to roll downhill and gather more and more moss. The idea of Imposter Syndrome may seem like a trendy new buzzword that’s got caught the media’s attention, but there is something very real behind the concept. According to Psychology Today, “people who struggle with imposter syndrome believe that they are undeserving of their achievements and the high esteem in which they are generally held. They feel that they aren’t as competent or intelligent as others might think—and that soon enough, people will discover the truth about them. Those with imposter syndrome are often well accomplished; they may hold high office or have numerous academic degrees.”
I’m betting when you read that definition; a few people came to mind immediately – maybe even yourself. It’s easy to see that a woman who sits with Imposter Syndrome is in danger of stifling her talents and her relationships.
I wrote another blog post that focused on Imposter Syndrome. To this day, it is the most read post I’ve written.
There are also great strategies to overcome Imposter Syndrome. For example, honest self-reflection can be very helpful in separating reality from hyperbole. But much like combating burnout, people caught in Imposter Syndrome benefit greatly from the support and feedback of similar people.
Aside from the personal coaching that I do over the last year, I began to think about the type of support and education that high-achieving working moms need. It came down to a few things like tools and techniques to address challenges like burnout and Imposter Syndrome, among many other topics. An opportunity to experience one-on-one coaching would be really valuable and perhaps the essential feature – doing all of this with a group of like-minded women who can provide support and guidance and the chance to learn from one another.
From this came M.E.L.D. – Mothers. Executives. Leaders. Development., a year-long female leadership development program designed to accelerate professional growth while overcoming the pressures of life.
I’m very excited to develop this first cohort of women. Our first meeting is scheduled for April. If anything that you read above about burnout or Imposter Syndrome struck a chord, this program is a good fit for you. Perhaps you’ve read this article, and there is a woman you love and care about who has been at the front of your thoughts – this program may be a perfect fit for them.
I encourage you to learn more about M.E.L.D. and to share the program with other women who would benefit and grow from this opportunity.