Working on your own self growth is an incredibly challenging undertaking. It feels like a constant war of pressures because I am responsible for so much more than my own self. I don’t know if any of you are parents or in long term relationships, but once you have people who depend on you regularly it shapes the way you schedule your own time and life. I know once my oldest daughter was born I changed my life so much I would have been unrecognizable on paper to my previous self.
One of the things I have struggled with internally the most these last 11-12 years has been giving myself the space and grace to grow. I always feel that “mom guilt” anytime I step away from being there for my kids or doing something that directly benefits them somehow like my 9 to 5 job does. I have talked to several other moms and the levels of guilt are different but somehow on some level all of us feel it when we try to do for ourselves. I believe society plays a big role in this, I know that my parents and grandparents felt very differently about making time for adult life without the kids. I also think that it is more than just moms who feel this guilt. I think anyone who has an obligation or responsibility outside of themselves feels it to some degree. For the sake of my own diary today I am referring to moms as that is what I most relate to.
I remember being in high school and feeling like the world was just beginning to open up to me and I was really pushing on the gas to get there and I let someone else’s needs come before mine and it derailed my whole plan. This was even before I had kids, but it only gets worse from there! These last few weeks I have posted some very emotional and deep entries into my mind and my past; I reference again that if you let someone stomp out who you are it is that much harder to be free.
I feel as a society the emphasis here in America is officially the nuclear family but unofficially its work and status and how much you are contributing to the nation/neighborhood/economy as a whole. Who has time to focus on playing ball in the backyard or watching ballet recitals when there are projects to manage, emails to write, and sales meetings to travel to. Even as the world goes more digital there seems to be an underlying adherence to being physically present at work being equal to how much you care about your organization. In my opinion people are better employees when they are invested in the mission and the values and the company is invested in their people in a real way. This is more than just competitive benefits or casual Fridays; it is genuinely supporting people on a human level. If little Jimmy has his first big soccer game why can’t his parents leave the office an hour early to make it there? We love to criticize each other, mom shame, but we are all guilty to some level of this “I WANT MORE” mentality that is so prevalent today.
All of this to say that I believe now more than ever is the time to look inward and decide what truly motivates you and makes you happy. What are truly your motivating factors? Why do you work so hard everyday? If it is for your family do your actions represent that? If it is for money, power, and status there is nothing wrong with that, but be honest with yourself and acknowledge those reasons. I watched a very compelling documentary this weekend that delved into America’s obsession with “more” and excess. This immediate gratification attitude and constant pressure to achieve “more” is damaging to the psyche of our society. We have changed the makeup of our society, our values, and our mission statement so to speak maybe without even realizing it.
I was caught up in this race, this need to achieve more and have more. I would run up my credit card for a restaurant lunch I couldn’t afford just to compete psychologically with my peers. Of course you can argue this is my personal flaw and it certainly was a choice I made however, at the time it felt like it wasn’t optional to me. I have spent the last 10 months digging into my own self to find what truly motivates me and why I am always pushing myself so hard. My answer is probably different than yours but both are equally valid. I am not here to judge the people who are always trying to be better and do more, just make sure that is what actually fulfills you.
At the end of the day what are your motivating factors? What drives you to work each day? Are you living life with the purpose of fulfillment?