While having a lovely moms-night-out with a friend last week, we began discussing our lives, our kids, our careers and what it means to live an authentic life.
To me, living your authentic life is about being genuine and true to your personal priorities. Defining your authentic life is also incredibly freeing. Once you can pass every decision you make –personal, professional or parenting- through your authenticity filter, you literally cannot make the wrong decision. If it is authentic, its right!
How do we define ourselves?
If you ask me to tell you about myself, without hesitation, I start with “I’m a mom of two adorable children.” And I am proud to do so. I am also so much more. I know that… on a philosophical level, but honestly, how do I define myself? And I realize that after a few years of motherhood, even I had lost track of what I stand for. What is my authentic life?
Personally, my mission is to create a life that allows me to be actively present in my children’s day-to-day life, while still honoring my individual identity and enabling me to use my brain.
But this is often easier said than done.
Claiming our identity starts with honoring our needs
It’s a cliché to say that moms’ needs always come last. But, as moms, we are experts at taking care of everyone else. We don’t mean to be martyrs or woe-is-me. Its just that other things need to get done. The to-do list has to be crossed off. Often that thing that falls to the bottom of the list, is the thing we need the most.
We skip a workout on a day our child’s school needs an extra volunteer. We cancel a girls’ night when our husband has to work late. We forgo making a career change until our kids are in school full time. We don’t spend the money on a career or personal development class for ourselves, but happily shell it out for gymnastics or violin lessons for our kids.
I am here to tell you there is nothing wrong with that. The last thing we need is another thing to feel guilty about. But when these one-offs become the norm, we can lose track of what was important to us in the first place.
So, where to we start?
Really define what your priorities are:
I think most moms would easily say “family” is one of their main priorities. But by further defining the specifics of that priority (or any other priority), we are able to better understand what makes up our authentic life. Is spending time with your family the priority or is being able to providing for them financially more important. Perhaps enabling your family to see the world is your main priority, or maybe it’s having a world-class education. By understanding what is driving you, it enables you to focus more clearly and let some of the other things go that don’t serve your priority.
Be able to separate what you should do from what you want to do
I should run a marathon. I should pick up a chair position on that non-profit . I should host an all-out Halloween party.
We all have things that come up either in our own minds or that other ask of us. We add them to our to do list because we feel like we should do them. But if we return to our genuine knowledge about our priorities, and ourselves, then we can focus on the direction we want to take our lives and the shoulds get replaced by the wants.
I want to learn to learn to surf. I want to launch my own business. I want to host an all-out Halloween party.
“Wanting” is also a hard concept for many moms, it seems selfish, but your authentic life is all about taking care of your self and those most important to you. So doing the things that fulfill that life is not selfish at all, it’s the most perfect thing you can do.
Define YOUR authentic life
So pull out that to do list. No, not the one in your purse that reminds you to return the library books, make a dentist appointment and email the accountant.
The other to do list.
The one in that journal at the back of your closet, or the notes you took during that amazing speaker last summer, or the brainstorming you did in your parked car after an inspiring conversation with a friend. THAT is the list I am talking about.
That is where your authentic life begins.
Once you pull out your list, you will find that idea, that project, that big ticket plan that you KNOW will move you forward towards your most authentic life.
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