It was August of 2015 when I realized I could no longer juggle the ten different balls I had going in the air. I hadn’t slept for more than four hours a night in almost two years. I was practically running an Olympic Decathlon trying to be a perfect everything — supermom, business owner, media figure, significant other, friend to all, you name it.
It just took one juggling ball to fall out of place – one in the form of a failed relationship, to make everything else crash to the floor. And in the aftermath, I could only ask, what now?
Well, the “what now” was this: I had to completely change how I was living my life.
Perfectionist, Meet Reality
I’m a perfectionist.
For me, that means that I have exceptionally high standards for myself—I strive to be the best in everything I do. So in my interactions with others, I judge myself on how I can operate like a superhuman who never lets anyone down. It’s hard to admit that this energy is unrealistic to sustain. So seeing my life explode into a perfect mess as a result of my perfectionist tactics was really hard to take.
I had to take a deep breath and try to take things back to basics.
Removing The Things that Aren’t In My Vision
What do I really want in life? How can I be sure I’m only spending time doing that?
This reminds me of a favorite quote from the artist Michelangelo. When asked how he sculpted the statue of David, he said, “It was easy. I just removed the parts that weren’t David.” I love that idea. I love it because it illustrates a simple concept – know what your vision is, and remove everything that doesn’t serve it.
When you have a strong vision – you know that you’re not trying to be everything to everybody – you can start to see where other standards don’t have to be applied. I DO have a vision of where I want to take my life and business. I just wasn’t holding myself accountable to it.
The first place I could see where my perfectionist standard was getting in the way was in my email habits. I was staying up all night to respond within 24 hours to every piece of email I received. This had nothing to do with my vision or purpose.
I immediately gave myself permission to NOT answer everyone within 24 hours—or maybe not at all. This alone added precious hours of sleep to my life.
Removing with The Power of No
Just like the Power of Now, a great book about how living in the present can change your life, I also believe in the power of no – which can help you attain your vision by blocking things that don’t belong there.
Hey, I get it, it’s hard to say no sometimes. In the past I would say yes to nearly everything— unimportant meetings, lunches, networking with strangers. It seemed more important to meet my perfectionist standard in responding to people then to make decisions based on what I actually wanted.
Saying no is a more advanced skill than not answering email – I actually had to face people and say no. Though difficult at first, consciously saying no allowed me to intentionally say yes to my vision.
Remove the Daily Grind
Empowered with the idea of saying no, I suddenly saw huge chunks of time I was wasting with errands. What was I thinking? Why am I worrying about dry cleaning or what I need to get at Target? I started to see that in an effort to save some money by doing things myself, I was nickel and diming my time away. Though I could have had a bigger bank account, I chose to invest in myself instead.
I immediately hired a family manager to help run my house and get the errands done and out of my way. Suddenly there was more room for everything – more time with my daughter, more time guiding the future of my businesses, more time in charge of my life. Instead of juggling ten balls, I’m only juggling two or three.
Awareness is Everything!
You, too, can create your masterpiece vision by removing the things that aren’t part of it! In order to NOT do it all, you must be very clear about your vision, your goals, and decide daily what are the most important things to accomplish.
To be honest, it’s still very difficult for me to let go: with emails, setting meetings, and any of the hundreds of details that come up. But I stay aware and keep focused on my vision, otherwise I’m right back juggling ten balls. Letting go is a choice I make every day.
The art of removing what’s unnecessary is just one element in my path to success. To explore more in depth on the lessons I’ve learned in life and business, check out my upcoming learning series, Course Corrected.