Many of us are juggling even more than usual at the moment. And if you’re someone who achieves more before breakfast than most people do in a week, you probably have plenty of tried and tested tools in your belt when it comes to getting things done. But there are two reasons women find ourselves distracted from our goals that we don’t always take into account.
Here are 2 hidden factors that can block you from achieving – and some questions to explore to move past them.
#1 Your executive function
When we want to boost our energy or power through a challenging time, we understandably tend to focus on the big things on our plates. If you’re managing a team through a major project or leading your family through a challenging time, that might well feel like the main area to look at.
Everything else – the millions of less important tasks, from checking email to putting the recycling out… well, that’s just life, right?
Actually, the latest research indicates that every single decision we make, no matter how small, impacts your ability to make important decisions.
“In a series of experiments and field studies, University of Minnesota psychologist Kathleen Vohs and colleagues repeatedly demonstrate that the mere act of making a selection may deplete executive resources.”
In other words, your day to day choices – what to wear, what to eat, where to work, how to reply to a message – play a big part in the exhaustion you face around the really important questions.
That’s when you might find yourself procrastinating, distracting yourself with mindless shows or social media, and all those other coping mechanisms we use when we’re feeling mentally fatigued.
For many high achieving women, the number of decisions we make each day is incredible.
- There’s work – and the emails, messages, meetings, conversations, crises. Remember, everyone around you is also going through a lot, and if you’re a leader or manager you’re called to regularly adjust priorities, delegate, and provide additional support.
- The energy you put into supporting your friends – keeping track of birthdays and interviews, staying on top of group threads, navigating the differing opinions on everything that’s happening in the world.
- And women also tend to do the bulk of the work when it comes to running a household. That’s not necessarily the cooking, cleaning and organising (though those tasks alone represent a huge amount of unpaid work!) It’s the emotional labour – keeping track of everything that’s going on. Buying the cat food, renewing the car insurance, packing the PE kits. Knowing how your parents, partner, and kids are doing emotionally. Who’s struggling, who needs support, who you’re keeping an eye on.
The bottom line is, our executive function has been stretched to the max in recent years.
Covid-19 has added a whole new layer of decisions to be made on everything from booking holidays to buying groceries.
If you want to be as effective as you can be when it comes to the big decisions, it’s essential to realise how much of your executive function is depleted by the small ones.
3 questions to consider:
- How can you help yourself by setting clear boundaries around what’s yours to handle?
- Who could support you by taking on some of the less critical decisions – to free you up for the bigger ones?
- What can you let go of all together?
#2 Your emotional load
The second hidden block for many of us is the emotional load we’re carrying with us. As life brings us setbacks, challenges and change, lots of the time we feel there’s no option but to just keep going.
If you’ve powered through work during a personal crisis like a bereavement, breakup, or miscarriage, you’ll know what I mean.
And the same is true the other way around – in your career, you’ve probably had periods of extreme stress when you’ve needed to somehow show up for family and friends regardless of everything else on your mind.
Given the upheaval, uncertainty and turbulence of recent months many of us have been doing both simultaneously. We keep a lid on our stress about work, to allow us to come home and handle the challenges there – and vice versa.
That’s a lot of emotions to keep a lid on!
And whilst you might be incredibly effective at compartmentalising what you need to so you can focus on what’s in front of you, at some point the weight of that emotional baggage begins to take its toll.
Frankly, it’s exhausting.
And before you know it, those squashed feelings are emerging in all sorts of unhelpful ways.
- Like losing your temper with your children or partner, when you’re really fed up with the way your boss is taking advantage of you at work.
- Or blaming your best mate for your feelings of loneliness and isolation – when you’ve been feeling estranged from your partner for the best part of a year, and have no idea how you’re ever going to reconnect.
Here are some ways to take the first step towards releasing that emotional tension:
- Journaling is a wonderful way to express pent up feelings. Try starting a sentence with the words “I feel [emotion] because” and seeing what emerges. Angry? Sad? Disappointed? Relieved? Keep going and try not to censor yourself – you might be surprised what emerged.
- Put on some music and “dance it out”. You’ll find some wonderful suggestions in the BeOne community, or try going back to music you loved as a teenager. Often that’s the time when we felt most connected to our emotions, and music has a wonderful way of evoking emotional responses.
- Reach out to a friend and share how you’re feeling. All of us have been through a lot lately, and sharing openly with someone you trust can be an incredibly cathartic thing. You could let them know that you’d like to vent, and just need them to listen – and offer to do the same for them. One long walk or leisurely phonecall later, and see how much the load has lifted.
Want to unlock new levels of energy and focus?
Momentum and Motivation is a free 2 hour workshop designed to help you move through these blocks and charge you up with new energy. Join us and experience a powerful meditation to release the emotional exhaustion of the past year and hook you up to your limitless energy supplies.
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