As a parent, I’m consistently inundated with advice and parenting do’s and don’ts. Don’t give them too much sugar. Put them to bed at the same time every night. Don’t let them watch too much TV. Be sure they play outside and get dirty. Do more of this. Don’t do that, ever.
It’s a lot to sift through, especially when some well-intentioned advice goes against your beliefs as a parent. Now add to that your adult to-do list, comprised of work responsibilities, household responsibilities and general responsibilities to ensure your own well-being, and it’s easy to see how parents can feel overwhelmed and unsuccessful. I admit there have been more than a few nights when I finally sit down after the kids are in bed and think, “Dishes are done and lunches are ready for tomorrow, but I still haven’t swept. The playroom needs to be picked up. The dog needs to go out and the cat’s food has to be refilled. I wanted to go for a run… I’m failing me and I’m failing them.”
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
I’ll let you in on a secret: it’s your decision how you want to feel. It’s your decision how you will proceed. It really just requires a change in mindset.
Consider this: ask yourself what a happy and successful life looks like, knowing that it is healthy for this to evolve over time. What was a happy and successful life to your 18 year old self may not be realistic or relevant to your 40 year old self. Keep in mind that as a parent, you’re no longer responsible for just yourself. Your day-to-day has changed drastically as a result of your kids who rely on you for so much more than food, shelter and clothing; they need you to guide them as they start to develop their own sense of self. Remember this as you make the intentional effort to define your happy and successful life. Maybe your career goals have changed. Maybe you’re finding new ways to interact with your kids’ school. There are no boundaries; invent! It is up to you to decide what this looks like for you.
I recently read a profound article, “What if All I want is a Mediocre Life?” and it really gave me pause. I found myself nodding in agreement to much of what the writer said, though I think she limits herself – and her readers – by saying she wants a “mediocre life.”
Who decides what’s mediocre vs. successful, happy and perfect? You do.
“Mediocre” doesn’t have to be the word you assign to it. Success to you could be the “slow, simple life” the writer describes as mediocre. For some, that is perfection. For others, there’s more to do. Why assign a word like “mediocre” to what you define as your perfect life?
Many people refer to engagement in the workplace as the result of intentional alignment. It is the same in life – how well does your life align to what you feel to be important?
The next time you catch yourself feeling like you’re failing, check in with yourself. Why do you feel this way? Have you set unattainable standards for yourself? Are you living and acting on someone else’s definition of a great life?
Ultimately, you have to ask yourself how you define success. Start small, like identifying what a good day looks like. And then go from there.
Important Questions from a Coach:
- What does a good day look like for you?
- What situations or events lead you to feel like you are failing or not enough?
- What is one thing you can do today to feel successful or enough?
- What does a happy and successful life look like to you?