You know how it is. You’re needed here and have a responsibility over there. You’d really like to see this person but have already said yes to someone else. To add to that, your list of jobs is getting longer and your pile of ironing, folding and putting away is taller than your four-year-old. Worse of all, you’ve had a headache all day and just know you’re coming down with something.
The life of a mother is a task-filled, responsibility-driven position that easily and often leaves nothing left for you. Then, as night falls you get into bed and think, ‘there goes another day without doing the things that really mattered to me’. Your weary eyes close as you fall asleep, never for long enough.
Does this sound familiar to you? I know I sure felt this way for many years. And to be honest, can still experience this feeling every now and then. That’s when I need to remind myself, ‘saying no really means saying yes to the life I dream of’.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting you begin telling untruths to your children or loved ones. ‘No honey, mummy’s not leaving’ when really you are. Or ‘No babe, I didn’t buy anything today’, although the lounge is adorned with new cushions. Definitely not. Honesty in all relationships please. I’m referring to No as a means of saying Yes to the life you most desire.
You have hopes and dreams. They may be buried under the busy-ness of life, but they’re still there. They include not just grandiose dreams like going to Disneyland or Paris, but everyday goals like being the mother your child needs. Or the friend or the wife. Perhaps your dreams aren’t limited to your connections with others, but include goals such as writing a novel, returning to study or joining a gym? If you took time now to consider the memory, emotions and legacy you hope would be felt from your presence, what would you like that to include? How would you show your loved ones how much they mean to you, or what would your contribution to communities such as a school or sporting group look like, if this was a priority? Finally, when you look back on your life, are there going to be experiences you regret not taking? Answering questions such as these provides you clarity when deciding what to say yes to, and what needs to be a no. It’s not realistic to think you can do everything. Focus is your friend here.
I love a big dream. I love everything about dreams. The imagery. The uniqueness and individualism of them. The no-holds-barred opportunities to play out the most ‘unrealistic’ of scenarios. Winning the lotto? Sure, I can handle that. The escapism. The fun. The possibilities! An audacious dream can be simply electrifying – and then to experience it? Priceless. I truly hope you entertain big dreams. Whether this be related to purchasing a dream property, taking dance classes or getting a photo with your favourite celebrity. Whatever rocks your world. I believe taking snippets of time, or better still, intentional moments to daydream, is a hugely beneficial strategy to increasing your feelings of joy and happiness.
This is not however, what I’m referring to here. I’m talking about the day-to-day dreams of who you want to be. Yes, that’s right – you’re authentic and content you, achieved in small steps and tiny decisions. When you’re feeling pulled in different directions and responsible for everyone else’s happiness though, what happens? You come last again. No chasing audacious dreams today. You’re not even one step closer.
There are times when not being able to actively move toward your dream is your day. Or month or season. That’s the yin of parenting to the yang of life. The hardships and the joys. The sadness and the delight. You can’t have one without the other. What I encourage however is the awareness and action of just that – understanding the seasons of your life and the moments of your days. The ability to take stock of where your life is right now, what your options and limitations are, and how you can begin to move toward leaving the feelings and legacies for your family and friends you wish to. Embracing comfort in this knowledge moves you one step closer to living an authentic and dream-filled life. Reduce the pressure, the responsibility and the meeting of other peoples’ expectations by saying no. By saying no, you will allow the space to say yes to what really matters. For. You!
Try these 3 tips to saying Yes to the audacious dreams of living a life on your terms:
- Know Your Reality. If there are no more plates to eat off, then no, you can’t get away with leaving the washing up another day. You have four children under 6, Miss 3’s likely to run as soon as you unclip her, Mr 2 is toilet training and the youngest has temperatures. Mr 6? Ummmm, silence. That can’t be good. Probably drawing your family tree on the living room wall with permanent marker. No, catching up with friends at the local café is not going to happen in the near future. Understanding your reality allows you to set healthy boundaries by saying no to invitations that are destined to end in someone screaming all the way to the car… quite possibly you. Get clear on what your abilities and limitations are during this phase of your day or life season.
- Understand life is seasonal and nothing lasts forever. As your life and parenting journey continues, you are going to experience different phases. There are times when you and your husband won’t be taking monthly weekends away and reading your favourite authors’ latest book won’t happen for quite some time. In fact, they may have written eight others by the time you have the mental and emotional capacity to concentrate on characters and plot. These are just not do-able options right now and that’s ok. Think of appropriate alternatives for this stage of your life but continue to dream of the future when you will be able to embrace these loves again. Patience my friend. Peace and patience.
- Decide what is valuable now. Either for today or for this season of your life. It’s toast for dinner because that allowed you to be present for Miss 14 who really needed you tonight – you can be at peace with this. Your bestie is about to board a plane for 6 months. Yes, you decide. I’m packing up the four children and we’re taking a road trip so I can hug her goodbye. That’s worth the 4-hour car trip and chaos that will inevitably follow. What needs your focus in this moment?
No-one can make these choices for you because they’re all about personal priorities. In this instance, you must consciously consider where your value lies. This is how you live a life authentic to you. Not a life which you believe pleases everyone else, or where you are doing what is expected. These are your days, your loved ones, your choices and your consequences. What do you want those consequences to include? Love, connection and purpose, or days full of busy-ness and regret?
Say no to agenda’s which aren’t your own, so you can say yes to the life of your dreams.