Today I'm welcoming special guest blogger Kelly McCann from Your Formula For Life.
Do you ever just put your head down, nose to the grindstone, and tell yourself – it won’t be like this forever… I just need to get through this week… past this one deadline… beyond these toddler years… through the holidays… etc.? I lived my life like this for several years before I had an “a-ha” moment that made me realize I was wasting precious time just going through the motions of life rather than truly living it!
My name is Kelly McCann and I’m a mom to two not-so-little ones anymore. Zach is now 11 and Julia will be turning 9 this year. My husband and I juggle their activities around our own career pursuits — his as an electrical programmer with a local automotive parts manufacturer (where he’s on call 24/7) and mine as an accounting manager at a local electrical utility. Yes, that’s right – I’m an accountant who blogs! That’s part of what makes my message so unique. I’m not just about sharing some right-brain life design ideas with you — I balance those ideas with left-brain logical execution techniques; because if you can’t execute on the ideas that intrigue you, reading about them is really just a waste of time, isn’t it?
Growing up, my goals and dreams were substandard I suppose, looking back on them now. I thought all I needed to be happy was a stable career where I “made good money”. I also wanted to get married and raise a family. After that, I really didn’t give it much thought. I would work and take care of my family and that would be all I needed for a lifetime of happiness.
During the years 1996 – 2007 I marched through life ticking as many of those items off my list as possible — university degree in Business, career in my field, professional accounting designation, marriage, puppy, baby #1 and finally baby #2. That’s a lot of big changes in a rather short period of time; but in the years that followed, I was feeling a bit underwhelmed with life. While my days were certainly full, they were all relatively the same, jam-packed with my job and day-to-day responsibilities. I’d created exactly what I’d thought I wanted, and yet I found myself wondering… is this it?
In 2010, I attended a women’s conference where many sessions were dedicated to professional women in the workforce sharing their tips for success — in business, and life in general. I listened to speaker after speaker talk about her life and how she balanced family and career, yet I still walked away from the conference feeling deflated. Not one single woman had described living her life in a way that I thought would work in mine; a way that would allow me the space I was craving for myself, away from the day-to-day, doing something regularly that was just for me!
My conclusion… there simply was no way to have it all. I should just resign myself to life as it is in any given moment, put my head down and plow through; essentially, make life bearable by going through the proper motions. I concluded I would have to wait until life “slowed down” before I could spend more time on pursuits that were just for me. But, I rationalized to myself, what was I complaining about anyway? I had a good job, a healthy family, great friends – it was all good from anyone’s outside view looking in; and so… I resigned myself to life on auto-pilot.
My “a-ha” moment came a few months later when I was sharing my story of the conference — and my conclusions from it — with a mentor and she simply said to me, “Kelly, if you believe you can’t have it all, you never will.” Such simple words but they had such an unbelievable impact on me. It was in that moment that I knew the answer was not to put my head down and accept life as it was just because it looked good from the outside – but to consciously and purposefully design my life so that it felt good on the inside.
It seems so straightforward to me now why I didn’t find any “one-size-fits-all” life design at that women’s conference. We all have our own unique formulas for living a life that truly makes us happy; while we can certainly embody suggestions and success techniques we learn from someone else, really… not a single one of us is going to have a formula that fits exactly for anyone else.
From 2011 through to 2015 I was driven to find my formula. A way of living that was just right for me (and most importantly, made me feel alive!) No more auto-pilot for this girl! I took courses on defining my priorities, seeking out the origins of my personality, improving my relationships, creating systems for efficiency so I could work smarter – not harder – both at the office and at home, and I read a bazillion self-help books on a multitude of topics! I was obsessed with learning about and implementing new habits that could be the missing puzzle pieces for my life formula.
Once I got really comfortable with the idea that I was absolutely the only one in charge of designing my life, I began to more clearly identify other women around me who were following ‘the auto-pilot guide to life’. I could sense the boredom and dissatisfaction… but I wasn’t yet great at articulating my message. I’m still learning how to do this as I regularly hear from other ladies that they do not have a formula for living their life; then I fumble over my words as I excitedly try to convince them that they can have their own formula, and that I can help them define it!
You don’t have to spend years of self-discovery and self-development to begin implementing the concept of creating a formula for living that’s just for you. If you take these first small steps that I’m about to describe below, you will be on your way… moving from auto-pilot to consciously living each day with your own happiness in mind:
1. Create the space to do something that is just for you every single day.
2. Then do something that is just for you every single day.
Um… is that it? Yep! It’s super simple advice that you’ve read or heard a bazillion times before, but I have to ask… have you taken it to heart and truly executed on it?
Because — I’m going to be pretty direct here — I’m as much about execution as I am about self-exploration. When I think of creating more space for my own happiness, I think of being super-efficient at the “must-dos” that come along with the life I’m currently living. What this means is that I have systems in place in my life that allow me to: be efficient at the office so significant overtime isn’t a constant factor; keep up with household chores; stay on top of our personal finances; and manage our full calendar of activities and to-dos.
Certainly when you learn about creating space in your life you are most likely told to: cut back where you can, delegate where possible, and eliminate things you are doing that are just time-wasters. Yep, I agree — all of those suggestions are good pieces of advice! But the fact remains there are elements of life that, as a responsible adult you need to have a handle on — like paying bills, cutting your grass regularly, and getting your kids to and from hockey practice! Rather than waste time avoiding these things or beating yourself up for procrastinating on them – why not put your mind to use developing systems (your own formula, if you will) for managing these “must-dos” efficiently! Create space by being smarter about your responsibilities.
Once you’ve nailed step #1, step #2 is the fun part... using the space you’ve just created to add daily activities that are all about YOU! Some things that hit my “just for me” list (and I do have a lengthy list that may appear to make me seem quite selfish… but also very happy!!): I include walks every day with my dog, yoga, writing in my journal, bubble baths with light easy reading and a glass of wine, reading blogs and listening to podcasts that intrigue me, and — the biggest passion that now consumes the space I created when I developed my own formula for life — connecting with women like you through my website: yourformulaforlife.com.
I think you can recognize if you’re on auto-pilot. I also think you are the only one who can decide if this is the way — or not — you want to live your life. Start small by taking action to create just enough space to be able to do one thing that’s just for you every single day! Say goodbye to auto-pilot and hello to living a life that fits YOU!
Thanks so much for sharing your story, Kelly!
Kelly McCann is a Life Design Coach and Lifestyle Blogger