In a commencement speech given to Dartmouth’s Class of 2014, Shonda Rhimes spoke pointedly about the sacrifices she’s made in her pursuit of success. She emphatically declared, “If I’m succeeding at one, I’m failing at the other.”
Shonda deflated the myth, “We can have it all!”
She talked about the monumental moments for her career that resulted in missing her children’s dance recitals, school performances, teacher conferences, etc. As well as the times she chose to prioritize her family which ultimately meant she was turning down or foregoing getting things done for work.
When I completed my graduate degree last year, I had no clue what my next steps would be. I had tons of ideas but no concrete plans. For the first two months, I was essentially just throwing things up against the wall to see what would stick. When my bank account started coughing up dust, I knew it was time to secure steady income in order to address my immediate needs, and then figure out the rest later.
So, that’s exactly what I did. Thank goodness I had an IT background. Seriously, this was nothing but the grace of God. I received and accepted an offer within two weeks of making my resume live. Of course I was SUPER excited about now being able to pay my bills. But still, I experienced intense depression for the next three months. I felt remorse for accepting a job. It seemed this meant I was giving up on my dreams. I was both thankful for my job and resentful toward it at the same time.
Everyday at work, I wore the mask of contentment. The moment I got in my car I felt the weight of my discontentment and sadness. I was overwhelmed and lost.
Right at about the three month mark, I realized that I was so miserable because I’d stopped actively pursuing my dreams (that of which I’m purposed for). The cloud was beginning to lift. Now I just needed to figure out how to be both an employee of someone else’s company and an owner of my own company. I know I know…People do this all the time. I however, had no idea what this looked like for me. I’ve owned my own business in the past but MY business was my only focus and income generator.
In this season, I needed to understand what it took for me to be an amazing employee (not quite sure I’m there) and blogger extraordinaire (definitely not there).
I took an assessment of my life to determine what “edits” (in the words of Myleik Teele) needed to be made. In other words, what sacrifices were inevitable in order for me to succeed. I have become proficient in removing things from my life (fortunately or unfortunately) but I think more important was discovering what needed to be added to the mix. Below are a few examples of changes I made:
- Grandma Hours – Everyone knows I do my very best to be in bed between 9:00PM and 9:30PM. This is really difficult for me because I’m naturally a night owl. My mind automatically tells my body it’s party time after 8:00PM. I must in-turn trick my mind into thinking it’s time to go night night (lol). I do this by taking melatonin and rubbing magnesium oil on my stomach. This is the best time for me to go to sleep in order to feel rested when I get up at 4:15AM. Going to bed later guarantees it will be a struggle in the morning or honestly, I just won’t get up at all (until it’s time to go to work).
- Rise and Grind – I needed to add more hours to my day to properly position myself to knock out my “to-do” list. Let me tell you, I AM NOT A MORNING PERSON. However, I had to get over myself. With my new schedule, I am able to commit 2-3 hours to my blog each morning before I go to work.
- Planning – To say this is still a work in progress would be an understatement. If I didn’t know it before, I know now, I am not a great planner. This isn’t something that comes to me intuitively so, I’m learning and building this muscle. I’m addicted to the results of planning though. That’s enough for me to continue incorporating it.
- Stick to the Schedule – I have allotted times for certain activities. For example: Monday 5:00AM-6:00AM- Organizing social media posts. Having set times for my tasks eliminates the ambiguity, wasted time, and feeling overwhelmed.
And now for the sacrifices…like many others, my days are pretty stacked. Perhaps others manage this better than I do. I struggle though, to balance my schedule with an active social life. I’m known for falling off the face of the planet when my bandwidth is stretched. I don’t keep in touch with people as much as I should or would like. I’ll be the first to admit, I have no idea how to manage and grow my blog, aggressively pursue my goals, work a full-time job, work-out, be mentally and emotionally present for phone conversations with my loved ones, attend events, go on lunch/dinner dates, properly nurture every relationship, AND practice self-care. LITERALLY no clue how to effectively juggle all of this. I do my best but things and people inevitably get sacrificed in the midst.
My second year of grad school I started realizing there’s no way I can have it all. And now I know without a doubt, it’s not possible. I can however, bite off small chunks and then as certain processes become well oiled machines, add more to my plate while also re-prioritizing social activities.
I have missed many events, holidays, birthday celebrations, relationship building opportunities over meals, you name it. I’ve even lost a few people along the way who weren’t able to accept hearing “no” so frequently from me. These aren’t necessarily proud moments. And while I’ve tried to get a little better at being present for such important engagements, the truth is…this likely won’t change anytime soon.
The sacrifice of the hustle is unavoidable. But blame it on the purpose that burns so ferociously within. It can’t be quelled!