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March 7, 2013

The Myth of the Superwoman

Doing ANYTHING you want and doing EVERYTHING you want are two different things.

I am a huge advocate of the former. I believe that literally anyone can make anything happen for themselves if they are passionate, tenacious, hungry to learn & grow and aren’t afraid of failure. But I think that believing that we can do everything (at least all at once) does us a disservice when we fall short.

This is a tricky line to walk because on one hand, we need belief that we can DO better & GET better, but on the other hand, the EXPECTATION that we *need to* somehow be able to juggle everything and be really, really good at it all only leaves us feeling like a failure when we don’t.

We’ve written on The Expectation Gap before, and I feel that a lot of our “shoulds” come from forcing ourselves to be stellar at everything we do–never let them see you sweat–and then faking it and feeling guilty when we inevitably can’t be perfect at it all.

In the past couple years, Metabolic Effect and JillFit have experienced a lot of success, and for that I am grateful. Jade, myself and the rest of the JillFit and Metabolic Effect team have worked our asses off. We work every day of the week, though fortunately we have the flexibility and autonomy that we need. But regardless, even with no appointments on the books, we are up before 6am every morning working because our clients, customers, readers and participants mean everything to us. It’s not hard to get up and work hard at something you are passionate about delivering. And we’ve gotten good at the delivery.

For my part, that’s all anyone sees. They see what I do well, where I focus my energy and thus where I spend my time–on business. They see programs, blogs, social media stuff, glammed-up photos, projects, etc.

It’s easy to assume when all you see is someone’s “highlight reel” that they are doing it all.

Not the case.

Well, let me share with you the things I don’t do well or at all. I hardly ever prep or cook meals at home–maybe once or twice a week. I never clean. We have a cleaning lady who comes weekly. I am super-messy (and just FYI, I won’t be sharing photos of my disgustingly messy BEDROOM on Facebook!). I always have been–I remember being a kid and being yelled at to clean my room daily :) I hate running errands so I don’t. I am not great at keeping up with my friends, especially the ones who live farther away. I am bad at sending cards and gifts on time in the mail. When I am focused on something, I tend to tune everything else out. Not a wonderful trait, especially when its at the expense of loved ones and friends. And there are plenty of other places that I don’t spend my time or put my focus and hence, those areas have suffered.

Could I get better at these things? Absolutely. Do I want to? Yes. But I also realized a couple things along the way:

  • If I say I want to get better in a certain area whether it’s my physique, my family time or my business, I need to make a conscious EFFORT to put my focus and time there. BUT, the rub is that I CAN’T PUT MY FOCUS AND TIME EVERYWHERE. It’s literally impossible–our brain (and bodies) do not multitask well. Studies have actually shown that when we focus in a single area, we are over ~90% successful. At two things, it drops to less than 50% success rate (for both) and at 3 things, about 5% for all of them. Multitasking well is a myth. But the good news is that you don’t have to be good at everything, but with focus, you can be incredible at something :)
  • I have to stop beating myself about not being able to do everything and do them all well. Because when I feel bad and feel like a failure when I can’t remember to send someone a thank you card on time, it doesn’t change my behavior–I still send stuff late or not at all–yet I am still left with feeling like I suck. This is about getting real when it comes to willpower. Willpower is not infinite and can be drained easier than we think. This is the reason we tend to eat more poorly at night than in the morning–our willpower is drained throughout the day. Hence, if we focus our effort and energy in one area, we are consciously choosing to NOT spend it in other areas. Which is perfectly fine!

Getting Realistically Optimistic

For starters… why don’t we get FOCUSED on what it is we really want. I think much of what we *think* we want, we actually more feel like we NEED.

I’ll never forget an email I received shortly after launched in 2010, from a woman who was also a business owner who wrote: “Jill, can you help me? I am around 22% body fat right now and I want you to help me get down to 10%, so that I can then just stay there.”

This is a simple lack of understanding about what 10% body fat is. Not only is it dangerously low and unhealthy for most women, but IT IS A FULL TIME JOB TO MAINTAIN IT. Not kidding. The hard part is not the attainment–any competitor can do that with a 12 week contest diet and be at 10% for one day–but the MAINTENANCE. Holy crap.

A professional figure competitor might be able to maintain 10% body fat BUT THEY DO THAT FOR A LIVING. It’s their #1 main focus, it’s where they put all of their energy.

And yet ladies, we truly believe that we can AND SHOULD be attaining the unattainable. And not just in one area of our lives. but everywhere. And when the inevitable other shoe drops, we make it mean that we’re a failure, because “LOOK at how well everyone else is able to do it all!!!” Psssst….I’ll share with you a secret–they aren’t.

My 2-part solution:

  1. Give yourself the win in the places you are kicking ass. Are you an awesome mom? Wife? Partner? Friend? Are you a savvy businesswoman with a rockin’ career? Are you smart and educated? This is about ACKNOWLEDGING where you are awesome and then internalizing gratitude for that. Feel the power of you when it comes to these things. You’re incredible…in the exact places you focus your energy. (High five!)
  2. FOCUS on a SINGLE thing you want to be incredible at. Get focused on 1-2 things max. And let go of the need to have everything else figured out. You can do everything eventually, just not all at once.

The people who are the most successful at a specific thing are also the most focused on that single thing.

You are incredible. Right now. Doing what you do. You are Superwoman right now–in what you do. But even Superwoman was good at one thing: kicking ass :) If you want to make a change, then consciously shift focus to something else, knowing that it means focus will be taken from somewhere else to this new place. But that’s all good.

So the take-away? Throw yourself a bone and realize that not only is it ok to not doing everything well, but it’s actually impossible.

Related: So, You Want the Perfect Body?


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