Released On 6th Sep 2021
Barbara's blog: She who dares...
Last April I secured a promotion, after a round of interviews where I had to face some tough competition. I was delighted as it was a new role that had been created to lead the design and implementation of the organisation’s environmental strategy. As a self-confessed eco-warrior, it would allow me to work on a topic that I was passionate about.
So far so good.
Although I was really pleased to have been successful, I was also acutely aware that I was already stretched both personally and professionally. Mum’s dementia was worsening, and a recent psychotic episode at the residential home where she lived had meant she now needed to move to a nursing home where she could receive the assistance that she required. My son’s anxiety had also reared its ugly head again and my husband’s father had Alzheimer’s and was proving a challenge to manage.
I very nearly declined the offer. I already felt like I had barely enough time to do justice to my current role, never mind taking on a new job, with the added pressure of having to step up, get up to speed with new subject matter, including some tricky regulations, and deliver a piece of work to exceed expectations. All this, as well as managing the challenges that I continued to have in my private life. It sounded like a recipe for disaster.
But I am an unwavering optimist, so I did what every sensible person would do when faced with a crisis: I made a list of all the things I would say if a friend had come to me for counsel on a similar predicament. And here it is.
Take the job. Life is short, but it can also very long, too long to watch somebody else in the role that you had turned down. Everything else will work itself out with a few minor adjustments (see below).
- Stop trying to be superwoman to prove to yourself that you can do it all. These are ridiculous expectations manufactured by society. Prioritise your family, your friends, and your job, not the cleaning or the baking.
- Ask for help. My husband is brilliant and helpful but is not a mind reader. Have an honest and open conversation with your partner and the children. You will be surprised by how proud they are of you.
- Stop being a perfectionist. It is one of the worst maladies of our society. Learn to accept that when something has got to give, good enough is enough.
- Meditate, take up yoga, spend some time in nature. Or get a dog. He will ensure your daily ration of fresh air and exercise is met and he will keep you in the moment.
I am just back from two weeks’ leave, where I tried to practice what I preached. I am still a work in progress, but I feel hopeful and excited about finally starting my new role.
Barbara works for a regulator in Canary Wharf, but lives a stone’s throw from the South Downs with her 15 year old cheerful and creative daughter, 13 year old funny and ingenious son and supportive husband.