Being a wife and mom took so much of my energy for so long, I lost who I was. I could tell you everything about anyone in my household, yet could not describe a hobby or interests of my own. It took lots of work to re-introduce myself to who I had become.
The discovery process involved forcing myself to slow down and evaluate my time and energy. Daily maintenance of the family and household provided so much chaos and distraction, I let myself get lost. Finding the time to sit down in the quiet and evaluate where I was and where I wanted to be had to become a priority.
I had to start by figuring out what I spent my time doing. Things like chasing others around to make sure they completed tasks, checking to make sure tasks were completed, and completing tasks I did not have the energy to force others to do were at the top of my list.
Once I understood where my time was going, I tried to figure out how to spend less time accomplishing the tasks. The solution to the problem I had was to set clear expectations, including deadlines, and provide non-negotiable consequences if the responsibility was not met. Once implemented, the connection between me feeling guilty for badgering the people in my house and their assumption I would lose my mind when attention was needed became clear.
After figuring out what time can be spared by planning and communication, I began to prepare a weekly schedule. I set time aside every Sunday evening to plan my week and update my calendar with expectations I would feel satisfied with. Chores or tasks I did not want to complete got entered on the schedule. Every day before I went to bed, the items on my list had to be completed. No exceptions.
Juggling work, going back to college, and parenting three teenagers provided me with ample opportunity to fail. In the beginning, I failed so many days. After trying so many times to get my act together, I felt like such a failure. Something inside of me wanted to change, though, so I pushed through the failures. Some days I would force myself to do the items the next day. Other times, I would not allow myself to go to bed until the list was complete (Hello! 2 a.m.).
Pushing through failure and forgiving myself for not being perfect helped me to get better at the process over time. With more and more free time opening, I was able to schedule time for myself. Lunch dates with old friends and quality time with the family became regular occurrences. My anxiety became manageable because I knew what to expect.
Spending time with others while relaxing provided me with opportunities to explore my interests. Career opportunities, graduating from college, and a peaceful household have all been accomplished since taking control of my time and forcing myself to spend time figuring out who I am and who I want to be. My self-esteem has improved dramatically.
Learning to get to know myself where I was has led to so many improvements in my life. I consistently set goals, using my schedule to break the goals down to actionable items. Successes with smaller goals lead to dreaming bigger and bigger. The more goals I accomplish, the more I experience. Now that I am not exhausted all the time, I can learn about myself through experiences and exposure.