Are you Wo(man) enough?

I’m blogging on and co managing the Women in Aid site with co founder Fi Davidson, trying to blog on my own nutrition website, facebooking, aidsourcing, tweeting, trying to keep up with LinkedIn discussions, trying to get my health coaching biz off the ground, am keeping up with my clients, still doing some humanitarian work, job hunting and and and….it all seems like an endless list.

When is enough, enough?

This is obviously not just a ‘woman’ issue but somehow, I feel a lot more comfortable talking to other women about it.  Somehow, I feel like they will get what I am feeling with this feeling that I am falling behind somehow.  And from conversations with my female friends, yep, they get it.  Loud and clear.  The men I talk to about this (two so far), have a stock response of: stop doing it.  That answer doesn’t sit right with me.

I can’t STOP being me.

What I can do however is decide for myself when enough is actually…enough.

I talk to my coaching clients about this all the time and need to take a page from my own book as what I say to them and coach them on is working for them.  My advice to my clients:  the important part is defining what enough is.

I am seeing this issue of when enough is enough more and more which is great (second link is amazing–Jen Louden is queen on helping you find your satisfaction).  It’s not about knowing what the right thing to do is—everyone knows what that is–it’s about the practical steps you will take to make sure you implement what you know is the right thing to do.

So, here I am taking a deep breath and putting it out in the universe and sharing this with all of you to keep myself accountable, but also to let you know you aren’t alone in feeling this feeling.  We ARE super women and we don’t need to be running on all cylinders and then some to feel like we are achieving something.

Deciding what is enough means that you won’t walk around feeling like you haven’t accomplished something.  It does NOT mean that you are not ambitious or that you can’t lean in etc.  It just means that you are clear on what YOU want and what will make YOU happy.  If you aren’t clear on these things it means you will have a hard time figuring out what enough actually is for you.

My favourite read on this topic is from Elizabeth Lesser of the Omega Institute.  A small excerpt from an article of hers:

The other day, I was having lunch at work with a few friends. Two were in their 30s with young children, demanding jobs and seemingly impossible schedules. One was single, childless and in her 40s. And I’m in my 50s with an eclectic work and family life that involves a blend of 9-to-5, travel and chunks of time spent in the solitary netherworld of writing.

“I have a question,” I said to my colleagues. “When I say, ‘How much is enough?’ what comes to mind?”

“Enough of what?” one of my younger friends asked.

“Enough of anything. What’s enough success? Enough good deeds? Enough parenting? Enough creativity? Enough sex? Enough apps? Enough emails, tweets, texts? Vacations, clothes, shoes? In a world of unlimited possibilities, how do you know when to stop? How much is enough? Do you know what I mean?”

Everyone nodded vigorously. Regardless of age or lifestyle or to-do lists, we all got the point. A sigh arose from our lunch table. If it weren’t for the plates of food, I think we would have cradled our heads in our arms and taken a long nap. It seems as if humankind made a group decision just a few years ago to pick up our collective pace. You know those long, moving walkways in airports? Where you step on and suddenly you and everyone else are going a little faster? That’s what things feel like to me these days—like we jumped on the fast track and now we can’t get off.

But we can, actually.

We can break out of our group trance; we can turn ourselves around, walk against the current and step off the moving platform—at least long enough to ask some important questions. I call them the 5 W’s: the What, the Where, the Why, the Who and the When.

I love that.  The 5W’s.  A good simple way to contextualize what is actually important to me and KNOW that it is.  You can read through the article for more guidance on how to answer the questions but the basics are below:

What matters most?

Where is the hidden cost?

Why am I doing it?

Who am I doing it for?

When do I stop striving and start living?

I invite you all to explore your 5W’s.  And please DO share in the comments below.  If you have other ways to add to techniques to find satisfaction, it would be great to hear about it.  I think it’s very important crucial to feel satisfied with our lives and know why we are doing the things that we are doing.  Other sectors will undoubtedly have this as well, but I feel a certain pressure in the alpha aid world for sure on needing to reach higher and higher (but for what?)….

So, when is enough enough for you?


About Zehra

Zehra is a livelihoods and cash transfer specialist working in humanitarian contexts. She has also been a health and lifestyle coach for humanitarian aid workers. Loves food, bollywood and tweeting (@zehrarizvi).
This entry was posted in career, family, life/ work balance and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Are you Wo(man) enough?

  1. Brilliant post Zehra and very enjoyable to read! I’ve also been guilty of trying to do it all, scattering my energy and never feeling ‘enough’. Now that I’m in my mid-30s I realise I’m no longer interested in doing or having it ‘all’. It’s taken alot of exhausting moments to get here and figuring out who I really am was a vital step. So what is finally ‘enough’? A job I enjoy (I’ve learned how to make jobs enjoyable or find another one!), being close to family and good friends, comitting to a lifestyle where I can have dogs (no more missions in conflict areas!) and time each day to read and write, do martial arts and put my legs up the wall. Such a tiny list compared to what came before!

  2. Zehra says:

    Thanks Claire! Love that you are CLEAR on what is “enough”! And honestly, I look at your life from the outside and think…HOW THE HELL does she manage to do everything that she does! Lol. Not that I’m comparing 🙂 xx

  3. Pingback: Was I burnt out? | Women in Aid

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