As women, we carry so many different labels: Wife, Mom, Daughter, Sister, Boss, Colleague, Friend. We can easily transition from the boardroom to the car line. We remember to pack gluten-free snacks and buy valentines for the class exchange. We always have an extra 10 minutes to iron our spouse’s suit and help choose a coordinating tie. We plan the girls’ night out and lend a hand with community events. It’s an endless list of tasks to check-off and random appointments and details swirling around in our heads.
With all these demands and expectations, it’s easy to see that our marriages are failing, we’re screaming at our children, and our work feels out-of-control. We’ve got all the things, yet we’re still not happy. We’re trying to meet everyone else’s needs and wants, and these expectations lead to overwhelm. We have become chained to these expectations to our own detriment.
Friends, we cannot outsource our happiness. The only way to be free in life is to release others’ expectations and to understand that we are only responsible for ourselves.
This freedom allows us to step into our power, to show up as our highest selves, and to stop repeating patterned behavior that once kept us small and safe. When we are the best versions of ourselves, everyone around us benefits because we are happier, healthier, and more successful. We can give from a place of abundance rather than resentment.
What does this look like? While it’s different for everyone, and there is value in walking your own path, I have learned that there are three steps anyone can take to start the untangling process:
- Carve out quiet time for yourself, every day. This must become non-negotiable. It’s important to be with your thoughts during this time. You can try meditating, stream of consciousness writing, or future-self journaling. I journal for about 20 minutes every morning, working through a ritual of gratitude, setting my intentions, and aligning my emotions to receive the day’s blessings. This daily practice has life-changing results if you stick with it.
- Take care of your body through nourishing meals and movement. I do not subscribe to the idea that everyone must eat their body weight in protein every day and look like a swimsuit model. There is so much value in preparing a homemade meal and taking a walk. Creating the proper container for consistent exercise and cooking is the work here. Consistently buying groceries that you like, making a routine out of exercise, finding the time to prepare food. It’s all part of the journey to freedom.
- Do something that you love at least weekly. These activities could lead to self-care like getting your hair done or having a mani/pedi, or might involve building relationships while having coffee with a friend or going on a date with your partner. You might prefer to peruse the shelves in your local bookstore or take a cooking class. Variety is key here so we don’t fall into a rut. Feel free to switch things up and try something new!
Even for those of us who are well on our paths of self-development, it is a nice reminder that we are not the roles we play in life, nor are we our credentials or possessions. We have value just because we are living. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, I encourage you to take a look at these steps and consider how you might make a move in the right direction. I promise, on the other side is a more peaceful, happier version of you.
Sarah Boyd is a PhD scientist turned tech entrepreneur. She has scaled multiple companies and boasts a diverse network of collaborators across entertainment, academia, government, non-profits, and the life science and tech industries. Sarah currently serves as the CEO of META Studios, a proudction how that specializes in cross-media development.