As a single mum with two kids with long term health needs and a corporate job I do sometimes struggle to find the right balance to sustain my own mental health. Previously I thought the adoration of my children and the fact I’ve not been fired were the two key determinants of my value. If only this was true, and very often this approach leads to poor mental health and in its most extreme burn out. What I’ve discovered over the past year is that in order for me to be the best mum I can be and do the best work I can I need to be my biggest fan. This was quite a shocking revelation to me as my self-worth has generally always come from the value others place on me. By learning to switch to value my view of myself above all else I’ve suddenly discovered something amazing – totally independently of anyone else’s view of me I’m a pretty awesome person.
By changing the way I value myself, and potentially even more importantly my time, I’ve been able to do a mind flip. Whereas before I was a martyr to others needs and obligations I now have learnt the important skills of delegation and saying no. Previously if someone at works had asked me to help them out I would have gone out of my way to accommodate their need above my own. Now it’s a really quite any easy calculation;
Do I have any spare capacity?
This has been a revolutionary starting point for me. In the past I would focus on meeting expectations and not letting others down first. Now my starting point it to focus on my time, and specifically the time I have spare, as a starting point. That way I am better able to support colleagues and my family in a more realistic manner. They usually get something of higher quality and I get to set really clear boundaries which helps them in making future requests.
Is this something that will add value to me?
This can be a tricky one to determine but it is worth pursuing and getting good at raising to yourself when others ask for some of your time. The value determined is down to you but for me in the workplace it needs to be something that will either raise my profile to senior management, an investment in the ‘return favor’ piggy bank or returning a favor.
This question comes after the first two and usually follows if the answer to the above two questions is no. If you really don’t want to or can’t do something it is always good to give some direction about who may be able to help or give some guidance around how they could possibly do the job by themselves.
Can I delegate?
If the answer to the first two questions is yes then it is still important to understand if the job needs to be done by you. Delegation is not something that comes naturally to me and is something that I’ve had to really work on getting better at, but it has definitely been worth it.
So don’t forget to be your biggest fan, and an important way to do that learning to protect your time. It does take a little practice to remember who is really in charge of you and your happiness but once achieved you will not only be happier but you will also discover 'time' that you didn't even know you had to go and do the things that you enjoy.
All opinions are solely my own and do not express the views or opinions of my employer.