Having it All
Having it All – Can Be As Simple As Believing You Already Do
Written by Dawn Chitwood
A blogger I follow once challenged her readers to describe their lives in five words or less, a much harder assignment than I initially anticipated. After days of pontificating, I happily settled on, “seeking balance between perfection and satisfaction.” (Technically six words, but “and” doesn’t count, right?) Never was this mantra so applicable than when I stepped into the dual roles of being an entrepreneur and a mother of two.
I opened the doors to my second business on my first child’s due date. Four years, a marriage, and another child later, we packed up and left our island home for the mountains of North Carolina where I began my next entrepreneurial journey. Given this juggling act, it is no surprise that seeking balance has been a recurring theme in my life, specifically between career and family. I suspect that no matter where you are on your path or what your roles may be, the same desire is true for you. Trying to manage this crazy, beautiful life is overwhelming at times. It can be scary A LOT. And, by scary, I mean the panicky kind of fear that infiltrates your entire being and you just freeze, wanting to pull the covers over your head and hide from the world – you know the one. And, then I look into the faces of my children, and I remember my why. They’re counting on me. Heck, it turns out I’m counting on me… to show up and be the human being I want my children to be.
The challenges of being a ‘mompreneur’ are plentiful and vast, but for me, it all boils down to one main challenge: self-limiting beliefs. These can show up in a multitude of ways. I’m not good enough. I’m not smart enough. I will never be successful. I don’t have enough money. I don’t have enough time. Any of these sound familiar? Well, let me just say, ALL of these were the tracks that repeated themselves in my thought process every day. Honestly, it’s a wonder I even took the first step. But, that’s all it took – one little step. A choice I made one day, and then the next day and the day after that. Choices I continue to make to this day… and lots of self-talk to remind me that all the evidence I spent years collecting to support all of those nasty beliefs were just plain false.
I could give you strategies and tips on how to save time carpooling to soccer games, or creating a family calendar to keep everyone’s dates straight or an app that streamlines your to-do lists, but there are three other valuable lessons I learned to master that have changed my life.
• Decide your priorities and don’t compromise them. In the wise words of Dr. Stephen Covey, decide what your “big rocks” are in life, your whys. When you put these things first, the lesser priorities will fall in line behind them. My big rocks are my family and my business, with my family being first and foremost. I am ever grateful for the option to volunteer in the classroom, stay home with sick kids and show up for field trips. It has meant many late nights working while everyone slept, but the trade-off is priceless. It has also been a sanity saver for me to share office space with colleagues and walk a third of a mile to and from work to sneak in the oh-so-important social and self-care aspects.
• Practice mindset reframes over and over again until they whittle away the stressful, negative moments. Rooted deep in cognitive behavioral therapy lives a game changer. You can actually change the neural pathways of your brain by determining triggers and practicing different reactions. Let me tell you, this is arduous and frustrating. We live in a world of instant gratification and old habits are hard to break. Really, those are what thoughts are: habits… programming. You CAN change it. Start small. Recognize the feelings when you feel them and think about the belief you have that makes you feel that way: Time, for instance. This is a biggie for moms. “I just don’t have enough time.” Whenever you hear yourself say this, reframe it. “I choose to have time for the things I want to do.” You likely will not really believe these reframes in the beginning. I know I didn’t. But, the feelings and ensuing results of these newfound thoughts will validate your efforts if you are open to receiving them. Remind yourself that it’s okay to be scared, to recognize the fear and choose love. You are enough and you are exactly what the world needs.
• Turn to your support network. Coupled with mindset, support is vital. I could not have managed being a mom and a business owner if it weren’t for the support of my family, friends, and the business community. Choose your tribe wisely and don’t be afraid to ask for help and be open to their support. If you feel you don’t have the support network you wish you had, ask yourself what choices you could be making that could be resisting support. I found that I had to deal with a deep-rooted discomfort in asking for help. I didn’t want to be a burden on other people; I should be able to manage it all myself; and I certainly didn’t believe any encouraging praise. Again, I practiced changing my thoughts. Just as it feels good for me to be able to help the people I care about, the same is true the other way around. No one can manage everything themselves nor should they. And lastly, learning to say a simple thank you in response to a kind word can be a hugely beneficial gift.
One last mindset suggestion to anyone out there trying to balance the many compartments of their life: the secret to having it all can be as simple as believing that you already do.
Dawn Chitwood is a mommy of two, former restaurateur, in her fourth year of building a marketing business that recently merged with a local web design company to form the creative agency, Bravado Creative. When not pouring her heart into her family and career, she’s also involved with the PTO for Weaverville Primary and Elementary Schools and serving on the board of the local women’s business organization, Femfessionals. All of these roles feed into her general desire to become a better human being each and every day and live life fully.