I’ll start off this post with a confession. I was living a distracted life for a long time. Of course, at the peak of this period of my life, I would have simply described my life as busy and filled with meaningful work that I loved and that I was–like so many other moms–simply doing my best to juggle the daily routine and responsibilities that come along with raising a young family. The truth is, though, I was so distracted I didn’t even realize how stressed out and out of balance I’d become. My iPhone was always in my hand or within easy reach and I felt a responsibility to immediately answer every email, call and text that pinged in (whether they were urgent or not). At one point, I was sending emails at midnight and routinely waking up at 6am to sneak some work in before the rest of my family awoke. Looking back on it now, I can see that I was clearly struggling to set boundaries. I felt pulled in too many directions and was struggling to find balance in my life. I was also exhausted! I was simply trying to do too much.
But, to the outside world and my community in LA, I imagine I looked just fine. Sure, I was running or rushing around, but I was also accomplishing a lot. The perfectionist in me was fueled by the desire to achieve, complete tasks and appear happily in control and put together at all times. Inside, though, I was feeling overwhelmed and struggling to maintain balance in my work and home life. It took a lot of self-work and introspection over the last year and a half to realize that I wanted a different kind of life for myself and for my family. My intention was to slow down and to learn how to be present. I hesitated a bit before deciding to share this part of my life story on this blog because it shows my own vulnerabilities, my failures and my struggles. But if in writing this post I am able to help even one person look at their own life and commit to living a less distracted life, then it’s well worth it.
I love technology–always have and always will–but I’ve made a pact with myself to disconnect for periods of each day and for longer stretches on the weekends. I’ve learned to set boundaries with my time and to be protective of my calendar and my family’s calendar. I love to run, to go for hikes and walks in LA and I’ve made working out a regularly scheduled time on my calendar. When I type in “run” in my calendar on my iPhone, I block that hour so that I’m not tempted to schedule a work or volunteer meeting in its place. This is my “me” time. It’s a priority for me and I try to schedule a run or hike 2-3 times a week. In terms of my work and volunteer commitments, I’ve started to say no to projects and opportunities when I know I don’t have the bandwidth or enough time to complete the work without sacrificing my own personal time or infringing on time with my family. It hasn’t been easy to say no but each time I do, I feel healthier and more empowered.
It’s taken some adjustments and tweaks but I love this new pace! I’m naturally a high energy person but now I’m more selective about the way I choose to direct my energy and use my time. I’m finally setting healthy boundaries and I’m making time for the people, projects and things that bring me the most joy. In living a less distracted life, I’ve found that I’m actually more productive (the opposite of what I thought would happen). Since I’m taking on less, I’m able to actually get most things on my to do list done and I’m not feeling as overwhelmed, stretched thin or exhausted at the end of the night. I’m feeling calmer, more centered and balanced.
I hope you’ll decide to join me on this path to living a happier and less distracted life.
“To learn to see–to accustom the eye to calmness, to patience, and to allow things to come up to it; to defer judgment, and to acquire the habit of approaching and grasping an individual case from all sides. This is the first preparatory schooling of intellectuality. One must not respond immediately to a stimulus; one must acquire a command of the obstructing and isolating instincts.” – Friedrich Nietzsche
“Do Less. Be More.” – Elizabeth Grace Saunders
“The major work of the world is not done by geniuses. It is done by ordinary people, with balance in their lives, who have learned to work in an extraordinary manner.” – Gordon B. Hinckley
“Don’t confuse having a career with having a life.” – Hillary Clinton
“We have overstretched our personal boundaries and forgotten that true happiness comes from living an authentic life fueled with a sense of purpose and balance.” – Dr. Kathleen Hall
“I’ve learned that you can’t have everything and do everything at the same time.” – Oprah Winfrey