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When All Else Fails, Lower Your Expectations.

No Need to be a Super Woman Any More

“When All Else Fails, Lower Your Expectations” was a bumper sticker I found when I was working on my dissertation, commuting to school, raising two little kids and generally too busy.  I found the sentiment helpful and you may too.

As a woman going through divorce or re-emerging afterward, you owe it to yourself to reconsider the expectations you hold for yourself.  This is especially true if you are a perfectionist fighting to maintain your perfectionism even if you are extremely busy.  From the outside, you may look like Super Woman.  However, on the inside, you may feel stressed, frazzled, overloaded, and overwhelmed.

For divorcing/divorced women, the pressure to perform can be intense and ongoing.  After all, divorce usually leaves you needing to do even more than you were doing before your separation.

Typically, if before you were separated, you were doing most of the work to run your household, now, you are probably doing it all.  You may be responsible for everyone and everything in your daily life including yourself, your kids, pets and perhaps family members such as a parent who may live with you. Plus, if you are like most divorced women, you are working. Too much to do!!!

As a busy divorcing/divorced woman, you need strategies to reduce your stress and help you manage your time. Rethinking how you do things, what really matters to you and what you can change about your routine are important considerations.

First, if you are a perfectionist or even if you are not, you may consider how to change your standards so that doing “a good enough job” becomes acceptable to you.

You may surprise yourself as you discover that all can go well and you can feel fine, even good, whenever you adjust your standards to “good enough”.  One saying that has helped me with this is “Better done than perfect.”  I always keep track of how I am doing with this approach by checking on whether everyone involved, myself included, is getting their needs met adequately.

Second, focusing on prioritizing can become key to navigating your way through pre- and post-divorce daily living.  Perfectionist or not, you can’t do everything.  Figuring out what is most important in your life is critical. Remember, “needs” take priority over “wants”. Examples of needs are adequate sleep, healthy eating, exercise, work and relaxation.  If you are too busy to meet these five needs in a healthy and balanced way, then, it is worth reconsidering how you schedule your time.

Third, be practical.  Make a list of what you have to do.  Rank items in order of importance.  Use your intuition to determine which are true needs and therefore, most important.  In addition, use these three questions to further help you simplify and organize your choices.  Ask yourself, “What can only be done by me?”  “What can I delegate?” “What can I radically change or even eliminate?”  Watch your list take shape and notice the sense of relief that can come with giving up the need to be Super Woman.

Action Step:  Download and print a weekly/daily schedule.  Be sure to use one which includes hours of the day.  Start by filling in your priorities and obligations specifically for each morning.  Focus on the time between when you wake up and when you leave the house to start your day.  Assign specific amounts of time to each thing you have to do.  If there is too much to do, work with it. Make your choices “good enough” and simplified (delegate and/or eliminate).  Consider whether you may need to devote less time to an item, get up earlier, find a way to get some items done the night before or just forget about something. When the morning is set, try working on the rest of the day.

Remember, “Better done than perfect!”

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