Believe it or not (I can hardly), we’re two weeks away from 2023.
As many of us do at the end of a year, I’ve been reflecting on my life.
I can hardly believe that I’m 51 years old!
That I’ve been advocating for us parents and our sweet boys for two decades.
That I’ve written a book with my mentor.
That my boys are almost 16, almost 18, and solidly 20.
That I met my partner in 1993, when I was only two years older than my oldest. 😮
That my mom is 76 and going strong, and my dad is gone. (Though he still seems to pop in from time to time. 😊)
That I still have a dear friend from 4th grade.
That I have figured out how to build and run a business that both supports my family and allows me to live in two different countries.
There is so much good. So much to be grateful for. So much to celebrate.
But I still have so much to learn…
Last weekend I was reading a new book by one of my first business mentors, Jadah Sellner, called “She Builds: The anti-hustle guide to grow your business and nourish your life.” It came out at the perfect time, as I’m reassessing the structure of my business with an eye for how to best serve parents as well as how to live my best life.
What I discovered is that I am afflicted with what Jadah calls “toxic productivity,” some of the symptoms of which are: constantly thinking about your business when you’re with your friends or family; feeling guilty if you’re not doing something that you think is constructive; and feeling a lack of self-worth when you are resting and taking care of yourself instead of tending to others.
I don’t want to “have” toxic productivity!!!
Fortunately, Jadah also shares her ideas for how to get off the hustle treadmill by living intentionally, not by default. And she shares her cycle of F.E.A.R. framework that inevitably sends us into burnout. (Don’t worry. I’m not burnt out yet!)
In this cycle, we hold ourselves to impossible standards and force (F.) ourselves to achieve specific outcomes. I, for example, gave myself the arbitrary deadline of the end of the year to completely refigure my business, so that I could present it at the beginning of 2023. (The problem is that I did this in November, when I had a speaking gig and trip planned across the globe, when my oldest was coming home from college for a week and I wanted to relax and enjoy him. When I had a week-long bar mitzvah trip planned for my youngest, which had been postponed for three years due to COVID… You’re seeing how misaligned this all is!)
Then we push push push ourselves into exhaustion (E.) and end up getting pissed at our partners for taking one second too long to put down their phone when we walk into the room. (It was a friend of mine who did this. 😉)
In this state of exhaustion, we tend to deny that we’re drowning, but we avoid (A.) those big projects and steps we need to focus on to achieve our goals. We may even lose sight of the big picture. Our “why?”. It is here that I start to suggest things like watching movies about people who communicate with dead people. Or baking a LOT.
And then we freeze. Unable to think flexibly, we hold on to our original plan for dear life. We are rigid (R.). Which leads us back to forcing that original outcome we set out to achieve.
I’m exhausted just writing this.
I’m obviously talking about business here because that’s where my main focus lies now that my boys are bigger and thriving.
But this applies to parenting as well.
Ever got stuck on a certain outcome for your child? He is going to be in bed at 8pm sharp. He will not get up from his seat until everyone is done eating. He must get good grades.
As parents, too, we get stuck in F.E.A.R.
We push ourselves to exhaustion trying to get our kid to do one thing or another until we’re so spent that we pay no attention to the context of the challenge. We don’t think to ask why our kiddo isn’t tired at 8? Whether he might not be getting enough exercise, or whether we failed to recall that he’s three years older than he was when we implemented the 8pm bedtime.
We don’t consider the cause of our sweet boy’s jumpiness at dinner, whether the expectation to sit that long is realistic, whether the time is pleasant or fun or tense or worse. We don’t ask ourselves why his jumpiness makes us SO mad.
We forget that not everyone is good at everything – not even us. We fail to share that we have no idea what grade we got in third grade writing, or that we never went to college and still built a fabulous life.
We’re just stuck. Frozen in our tunnel vision about how things should be, and determined to push hard until “should” happens.
Parenting isn’t about toxic productivity.
Parenting should be fun.
Parenting CAN be fun!
There should be many moments of joy and laughter and play. Many points of connection and love.
If this is not happening for you, I challenge you to consider where you might be showing up toxically in F.E.A.R. with your sweet boy.
Once you identify something, consider re-assessing it from all angles. Is this expectation realistic? Am I coming at the problem with the same solution over and over again, despite the fact that it’s not working? Do I even care about this anymore? What could I try instead?
In general, when we’re feeling huge resistance or angst about something, there is often a simple step we can take to alter our reality and shift our feeling.
What can you do differently?
For me, I have decided to do something that I have never done.
I will be out of the office from Wednesday, December 21, and will be back Tuesday, January 3, 2023.
If you need me during these two weeks, my assistant will get back to you during non-holiday weekday hours, but please realize that she is new – just learning the ropes, as I am just realizing that I cannot do all my work alone. #iknow…
I am scared.
I’m scared that you will think I’m lazy.
That you won’t think I’m all in for you.
But I’m going to jump in and take the risk, not only because it’s in my own best interest, but also to inspire you to think about what would nurture you right now. You deserve it!
Have a healthy, peaceful holiday season, and I’ll see you in the New Year.
With so much gratitude,