Taking Care of Yourself While Taking on the World
By guest author: Teresa Deveaux, MA Ed, MA LOD
Throughout my life, I have been jokingly called Wonder Woman and even been asked if I have some sort of Superhero powers to be able to manage all the various activities in my life. These types of questions have both embarrassed and frustrated me.
But I have come to accept the questions not as a jab that I am doing too much, but rather as a compliment on my ability to create balance in my life while pursuing my many goals. No one would ever accuse me of endeavoring to save mankind but I do try every day, in big and small ways, to apply some of my time and skills to better the planet and my existence on it.
So when “random citizens” (that’s a nod to the 2004 superhero movie “The Incredibles”, yes, one of my favorite films of all time) ask if I am hiding a cape under my dress or joke that it must be hard to save the world in high heels, I try to steer the conversation to balance and self-care. I truly believe that all my accomplishments have been achieved due to my willingness to find the equilibrium between the pursuit of my goal and the many other priorities in my life.
In an effort to help you take on the world in your own special way, I am going to share some of my super(hero) secret balancing act skills.
Let’s Get Physical!
One of the first things that tends to drop off when I’m facing a challenge is my fitness (unless of course, the challenge I am undertaking is a physical one like completing a marathon or an Ironman triathlon). Whenever I am setting a new goal, I proactively lay out how I am going to continue my exercise regimen because I have learned that I achieve positive results more easily when my body is being kept in shape and tended to throughout the process.
When I started graduate school in 2012, I registered for several running races and triathlons over the 2 year period to ensure I would stay on track physically. I can’t say I did every workout I planned, but I did complete each of the races I had scheduled. Keeping physically on track went a long way towards keeping me centered and focused on my schoolwork when I needed to be.
One other hint about health and fitness is to get outdoors. A simple walk outside (versus let’s say, a treadmill run or other indoor activity) does your body a world of good, fills you up with Vitamin D and lets you see that big beautiful world you aspire to take on!
Create a “Helpwork”
Another important concept when taking on a new endeavor is to ensure that you have emotional support lined up. This can take the form of strengthening relationships by including loved ones in the planning of your goals or engaging with a licensed therapist.
I have found that garnering buy-in from a support network is instrumental in not only reaching my goals, but also in getting through the inevitable pitfalls that will emerge along the road to fruition. I call this group my “helpwork” (as they are far more than a Network!) and their assistance has come in the form of anything from walking my dog or making me a meal to purchasing a flight to support me at a pivotal event. Do not underestimate the power of this helpwork in getting you to your personal finish line and absolutely take the time to properly and personally thank them once you have attained your goal.
Build in Some Downtime
Finally, I suggest that you be very precious with your time as you set off on a new adventure. The one superpower I did wish that I have is the ability to bend the time space continuum because I simply cannot get to all the amazing things that I want to spend my time on. But in the face of a new and exciting challenge, I find it critical to block out the activities that I will have to pare down or readjust to focus on my new goal.
I am critical about my priorities and ensure that I build downtime into my calendar as well. I book vacations into the plan, I plan entire days of “sloth” and non-connectivity and I am clear with my colleagues (school, work, or partner in my new goal) about how and when I will work versus when I will focus on ROL (rest of life).
I have found that by being open about my time boundaries, I get more agreement from those involved and additionally, I am able to transition more easily between efforts when I know I have set aside appropriate amounts of time for all aspects of my life in the face of a new project.
With a little planning around health and your life schedule and the support of family and friends, I don’t doubt that you will be able to reach your goals. If nothing else, the suggestions above will help you be more present and engaged when you do go about saving the world. See you at the next superheroes meeting !
Teresa Deveaux is an industry leader in the areas of Organizational Development/Operations and Leadership Consulting. She is currently the Senior Director of Gender Diversity Strategy at Microsoft Corporation driving initiatives and programs that increase the successful attraction, retention and career development of Women.
Teresa is a 5 time Ironman triathlon finisher, has completed over a dozen marathons including the prestigious Boston and New York marathons and holds 2 Masters degrees (Elementary Education and Leadership and Organizational Development).
In her spare time Teresa and her 3 year old Portuguese Water dog “Diva” are an accredited Pet Partner therapy team making visits to hospitals and Seniors’ homes in support of the programs core goal of “Improving lives through positive human-animal interactions” https://www.petpartners.org/
Teresa is also a very proud member of the Board of Directors for Imagine Housing http://imaginehousing.org/
You can connect with Teresa on LinkedIn.