By Kate A From Women Lawyers News • January 15, 2019
I’ve always been an “overachiever.” I always wanted to be educated and successful. But, growing up, I had no examples of successful, educated people around me. So I did what I knew how to do – from the time I was little, I worked hard. At school, extra curricular stuff, and jobs. And I always did really well in school, so the hard work was paying off.
I loved learning and still do. Give me a test, a homework assignment, anything I was responsible for learning, and I rocked it. That’s how it went for me through high school, then college, then law school, then a masters degree. Finally, school was done, and I started my professional life working in a law firm. I felt like a bada$$ grown-up. It was so exciting to finally get there after years of hard work, and that excitement lasted for a few years.
The problem was, having worked so hard for so long, by the time I hit age 30, honestly, I was getting tired. I was still the same jugging, organized, overachiever I’d always been. But suddenly, it didn’t seem like enough to help me do it all.
I never had enough time. I was overwhelmed. I started to question whether I still loved the career that I worked so hard to get, or whether I was just too run-down to enjoy it. I was always plowing through my to-do list, but I still beat myself up when things didn’t get done. I was on a hamster wheel and could just never seem to catch up.
Plus, professional life was different than all those years of academia. I always had a plan: work hard, study, get into college. Work hard, study, get into law school. And so on. I always had goals. There was always a “right thing” to do to get there, clear start and end points to each step. But suddenly, in this new professional life, there were no clear goals. I was still juggling, but there was no clear “right thing” to do anymore. It was up to me to figure it all out.
I wanted to keep going, keep succeeding, but I also didn’t want to work myself to death. I wanted to spend more time with my husband and my friends and felt guilty when I couldn’t. I wanted to be healthy and balanced. I felt like I was always falling behind in one area or another. But I didn’t feel like I could change how much stuff I had to do.
To the outside world, I was successful and accomplishing so many things. It looked good. But really, I felt stuck, like I was spinning my wheels. It took enormous energy trying to keep up, and I felt like a failure when I couldn’t be on top of every piece of my life at the same time. Many days, I was totally exhausted when I got home at the end of the day, like I had nothing left to give. I just wanted to sit on the couch and let my brain rest in front of the TV.
And where was the roadmap, the “right thing” to do to get it all done but still rock at everything?
This time, I was completely on my own though. I had to learn how to be more balanced, how to do all the things but not feel totally consumed by them. How to enjoy my work again but also enjoy my life. I tried loads of random planners, to-do apps, and productivity tips over the years. Sometimes they helped a little or made me feel optimistic at first, but nothing really fixed the problem.
One Monday, I realized how much I was dreading starting my week. The days and weeks were blurring together as I ran on the to-do list treadmill. Finally, I’d had enough.I knew something had to change.
I was tempted to change jobs, hoping it would help. But I couldn’t tell for sure if the job was the problem until I fixed the things I could control, and I didn’t want to make a switch only to be just as unhappy. So, I started what turned out to be, in my case, a years-long journey of studying (yup, that’s my jam) and experimenting to figure out how to keep feeling accomplished without feeling overwhelmed.
It took some time, but it started to work really well when I finally saw how all the different pieces I’d been working on fit together to give me the balance I needed. It was like I spent time gathering the right puzzle pieces without ever seeing the picture on the box, then finally realized how the completed picture needed to look.
Suddenly, I loved my job again, I was healthier, happier, and spent much more time with the people I loved (and they noticed). I had dedicated time for all the things I wanted to do. I was tackling long-term goals, moving side projects forward. I woke up knowing what I needed to get done that day and how it was going to happen. I took breaks. I took walks. I actually ate lunch, rather than inhaling it at my desk. I was having fun, sleeping, and working out. I felt focused, present, in control, organized, and on top of things, like I could breathe again. My career was better for it, and I could see new opportunities more clearly.
I did eventually shake up my career a bit. I’m now a law school professor, and I still practice law. I started a community for other women lawyers. I serve on a national board and take on lots of other projects. Even though I’m juggling more than ever, I no longer feel like a hamster on a wheel. I feel productive and focused. I get lots done every day without things feeling hectic.I end each day feeling accomplished. I have time for the things that are important to me. I take breaks, I have energy, and I feel on top of things.
Even though life is pretty awesome now, I do wish it hadn’t take me years of researching, studying, and experimenting to figure out how all the pieces fit together to get me here. I wish I had a roadmap to follow.
In the years since, I talked to so many amazing women about their own similar struggles with not having enough time. I talk to them about my journey and what I’ve learned. As I helped them, I realized that there is a roadmap, it is possible to be guided, step-by-step, to the same results I found.
If you’re like me, you may feel like you should naturally be good at things like productivity, time management, rocking your goals, and balancing everything you have going on. And you probably love a good organized plan to follow. But no one ever teaches us these skills or shows us a plan or a roadmap for figuring it out. And it’s really hard to do it on your own.
The good news is you don’t have to – I took the the years of studying and experimenting that it took me to finally find balance and I’m using it to help other women.
That way, you can go from feeling overwhelmed every day to feeling accomplished every day. You can meet your goals instead of watching time fly by. You can have time for the people and things that are most important to you.
I got you, let’s do this.
I invite you to join me inside the Overwhelmed to Accomplished Every Day course – your roadmap to focusing on what you want and need to get done so you can sail through distractions & unnecessary to dos, get more done in less time, and have time for what matters most to you (and make sure it sticks).
I’ll see you in there,
PS – I’d hate to see you go through the years of frustration and experimenting that it took me to finally find balance – if you’d like to skip all that join me inside the Overwhelmed to Accomplished Every Day course or DM me on Instagram and say "I'm ready to fix my days." Talk soon.