We can all agree that life today is much different than decades past. Life is quicker, busier and filled with continuous deadlines. The role of a woman is already an undertaking, now, combined with the demands of this 21st century, the daily complexities have increased. Things are not necessarily easier or harder, but as a woman, we face new challenges of today’s society.
Although I would consider myself a little old-fashioned in spirit, there is no doubt I am living the life of a 21st-century woman. What does this actually mean? It means we live in times where you are expected to be a wife, a mom and a working- woman all in the same moment. You can be cooking breakfast for the family and preparing your child for school, all while video conferencing for work. So how do we meet the challenges of this booming technological century we live in?
Experience has taught me four key life lessons that I implore every 21st-century woman to consider as life tools. These lessons are to be used daily to prevent mental breakdowns, pre-midlife crisis, unneeded health ailments, mental health issues and just overall burn out. Each stage of life can require one or all of these lessons, use them to keep the balance in your life.
Focus on one thing at a time
We were brainwashed to think how well you can multi-task determines how efficient or inefficient you are. However, there are times when we must buckle down and complete one task, one project or one assignment at a time. Productivity is not the ability to cram everything you need to do in one hour or one day. It is actually more important to be able to sustain what you have done through concentrated efforts.
We can each admit at least once while trying to do more than one thing, we either finishing none or unintentionally missing something because your attention was divided. Yes, I have learned the ways of juggling but life can also benefit from you giving all your attention, and energy when you focus on one thing at a time. We as woman need to determine when this is needed; it is a great lesson for preventing physical and emotional burnout.
Perform a quarterly assessment of your schedule. It is important to build routines and organize your calendar with all the activities you are involved in, to keep track and plan ahead. However, as we all know life changes. What worked for your schedule last month may not work with new commitments or even ones that have been removed. For instance, if you completed a project and now have more time, it’s still important to relocate this newfound time in order to stay organized.
Equally as important is if you projected a certain time frame for a task and you now realize it will take longer or require more time. This is essential because you may need to relocate more time temporarily from another activity to complete that task.
Do not be shy about taking a step back from something you initially committed your time. People will respect your honesty and early communication more as opposed to continuous apologies for being late or canceling. The management of your time is not a one-time process; it is a lifetime journey. You may also choose to use physical tools and apps to assist with reminders and tracking.
Give yourself time to adjust
Life can change in the blink of an eye whether you desired the change or not. It is important to give yourself enough time to adjust both emotionally and physically. If you planned for the change it may have come with more than you expected, in this case, use the first lesson and focus your energy on one thing at a time.
Then if needed apply the second lesson and reassess your schedule of life activities until you settle in. If this was an unexpected change, whether it is good or bad there is even more reason to give yourself ample time to adjust. The impact of the change will also be different depending on what area of life it takes place; work, family, personal etc. It is crucial to identify barriers to adjust and tackling them one at a time if there’s more than one.
Make yourself a priority
Yes, I said it. This is probably the most challenging lesson to put into practice but the most important. Along with all life’s competing factors, it must be a priority to find ways to positively express yourself emotionally and creatively. The buzzword for this today is called “self-care”.
However, the type of self-care I am referring to goes beyond just bubble baths and getting your nails done, which is also important. It is proactively building into your schedule outlets or measures for consistent self-care that will decrease the need to function in “survival mode”.
When we ignore our own personal needs for long periods of time, we go into survival mode because our tanks are running on empty. It is hard to imagine but the same way we schedule meetings, conference calls and play dates we must build in ways to express ourselves emotionally and creatively. This will look different for everyone because what rejuvenates you does not necessarily rejuvenate me. It can be a scheduled swimming session twice a month, a painting class every month, a quarterly spiritual retreat, going to yoga once a week, taking piano classes or quarterly attending cooking classes. Whatever you do, what is most important is building it into your schedule.
This is in addition to other self-care measures such as meditating or praying every morning/evening, going for a daily walk, or going to the spa once a month. Another suggestion, once every 3 months check-in to a hotel room for a day. This would be dependent on your budget and after making preparations with your husband (if you are married), family and many close friends. The goal is to spend 24 hours in rest and relaxation; escaping interruptions and the stressors of the world. Whatever tickles your fancy or meets your budget, as long as you make yourself a priority consistently and unapologetically.
We are uncertain of what expectations life in the 21st century will continue to demand. Yet, what remains true is that we can only give our best when we are at our best.