Your to-do list is a mile long. You bring home the bacon and serve it up for brunch. Your Nike trainers get as much use as your Manolo’s, and your social calendar is booked almost every evening for the next two months. You work 14 hour days, and that doesn’t count the nine conferences you are attending this year.
Are you exhausted yet?
I like to say that you can have it all, but you just can’t do it all yourself. Nope, won’t work. I’ve tried it. It’s a great recipe for a one-way ticket to crazy town. When I started my first business 12 years ago, I thought I was supposed to be tough, resourceful and all-knowing coming out of the gate. My ego got the better of me.
Boy did I have a lot to learn. I stumbled, made mistakes, thinking all along that I had to do this all myself: e-f-f-o-r-t. It wasn’t until I learned to do two things well that I started to enjoy the fruits of my success: delegate and ask for help.
The smartest and most successful women I know are excellent delegators. They understand that there just aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done. They also realize that there is tremendous power in community, and being humble enough to ask for help.
Here are the five steps they consistently take:
1. Identify Your Values and Live By Them. What’s most important to you in life? What do you value above all else? Some of the most popular values include: Freedom, Family, Financial Independence and Health. Make sure that you dedicate time in your schedule to those things you value most. Otherwise, you’ll be out of alignment with who you are, and I promise you, the feeling sucks.
2. Make a List of the Important but Non-Essential (read: it can be done by someone else). Take out a notebook and pen and set a timer for 30 minutes. Now write out everything you do that could be done by someone else (even if some preliminary training is needed). Everything from grocery shopping, errands, office filing, dog washing, laundry, cooking, scheduling, etc. If you’re an entrepreneur, you don’t have to do the math to realize that you can pay someone $15/hr to free up your time to do your genius work (what you do better than anyone else) to make a lot more money…or regain your sanity with a workout or a massage.
3. Build and Nurture Your Support Network. Identify other women who may be a couple of steps ahead of you in business and invite them to lunch or send them a hand-written note. Join a professional development mentorship program or start a mastermind group with a couple of other like-minded women. Never underestimate the power of multiple female brains focused on finding a solution to your most pressing problem. You’ve got to be willing to put yourself out there, and God forbid, admit that you don’t know it all.
4. Create Your Resource Rolodex. Once you’ve got the “asking for help” thing down, now it’s time to organize all of your new resources and contacts. You can use a traditional paper rolodex or create a list of contacts on your computer and/or online (Outlook and 37 Signals are good places to start). Start to create groups around your needs, such as: “Pet Sitters,” “Graphic Designers,” “Plumbers,” “Massage Therapists,” You get the idea. Now you’re building your safety net.
5. Be a Resource for Others. This really goes without saying. You’ve asked for help. You’ve created your own list of great resources. Pay it forward and share the wealth. Be THAT girl. You know the one – anytime you ask her for a recommendation, she sends you three. It’s called karma, baby.
Oprah Winfrey once said, “You can have it all, you just can’t have it all at once.” I don’t completely agree. You can have it all as long as you realize it’s a group project.
©2012 Liz Dennery Sanders