We all have been given the gift of GUILT by our family, friends, colleagues, neighbours and even passers by. How many times have we tried to not give in to our child’s request(I am using a very mild term – request) in a public place because we don’t think the child needs the stuff that he/she is asking for and the child starts throwing a tantrum! Passers by give you those looks which seem to say “What a mom is she? Putting her child to such pain” and you feel the guilt of being a monster mom!
Many a times, it’s this guilt that does not allow us to Let Go! I am sure you can relate to one of the below(or more than one!) -
Only I can brush my child’s teeth the best! (while meaning that your husband cannot do a good job of it)
Of course, I need to tie my child’s shoe laces(because Grandpa is not capable; the same Grandpa who did it for years for his own shoes)
The menu of the day has to be decided by me(Mother in law does not plan a perfectly balanced meal; the MIL who raised the entire family for years and all of them are hale and healthy today)
I have to list down all the steps that my new team member needs to do to ensure she writes the perfect piece of code(Not wanting to allow her to read up the process documents and demonstrate her coding acumen)
And the list goes on!
I remember having asked this question to a senior woman leader during one of the panel discussions that I was moderating at an International Women’s day event – “If your child has not scored the marks that you wished him/her to score in the exam, do you feel guilty that it could have been because you were not able to spend enough time with the child to help with the preparation for the exam?” This was her answer “What’s the guarantee that the child would have scored better if I had been around him/her? Maybe, the marks would have been worse if I had been around!!”
And it made me think! Why do we assume that things will not go right if we are not around? Why do we want to be perfect with everything in life? Why cannot we delegate(both at home and office) and watch from a distance to see the outcome? And let the outcome improve on a daily basis instead of stepping in and saying “I knew this would be the issue if I let you do it your way!!”
One of the biggest blockers in a woman’s career journey is her inability to Let GO!
Decide what your priority is. It’s going to be extremely difficult to have your head space dedicated to the running of the household as well as executing your official projects. It’s perfectly fine to let go(or delegate) some of the household chores to your family(it could be to your in-laws, your parents, your husband and sometimes even your child) to free up your mind to focus on what needs to be accomplished in the office. But hey, remember that once you Let Go, you do not crib and complain. Things will get done but might not get done the way you do it. You will need to have an oversight from a distance, and very subtly suggest changes if you wish. Otherwise, the stress is going to be more and the person to whom you have delegated the responsibility will also not be happy doing it. It might just bounce back to you soon!
Ask for help! If you want to go for the networking dinner organized by your office, but the same evening your child has to go to a birthday party, and none of your family is able to accompany the child, do ask your child’s friends’ parents to help you out. Of course, you must also be willing to return the favour when the time comes. And Go ahead with your networking dinner!
Outsource some of the work that you do at home which could bog you down! Hire a cook if you feel you are extremely tired after the day at work! Get a tutor if you are unable to spend the required hours with your child but you feel that the child needs additional help with school work! Sometimes just taking an OLA or a UBER gives you the respite that you need instead of you driving your own car! Again, you need to specify what outcomes you need(i.e nutrition levels in the meal/what subjects to focus on) but you should give adequate independence to the person you have hired. For those of you who feel that it’s a big hole in the pocket to outsource, do remember that this is the investment you are making to get you to a salary level in the coming months when you can easily afford it. It’s just like the investment we make when we enroll for a Master’s course at a university. We believe that it will get us to a better paying job!
Sometimes you just need to let go without delegating, without asking for help, without outsourcing! One morning, you find the centre table in the study to be extremely dusty. Your maid might be on leave and all your family members have also gone out of town for a couple of days. Let the dust on the table not bother you! You have the important meeting to prepare for, go ahead! The dust on the table does not hinder any of your personal or official work. What usually happens is we think about all the possibilities – An unexpected guest might turn up, or we just want to feel proud that our house is always spic and span! That’s the additional pressure you are putting on yourselves! Leave the table as is till the dust settles down i.e you have prepared for the meeting and impressed your point of view with the rest of the participants at the meeting.
At office, it’s important that you do not micro manage your team. For you to be able to take on additional assignments, you will have to make time by delegating some of your tasks to your team! Unless your team members grow, you will not be able to grow. You will be surprised how the majority of the times you delegated the task to a junior or a peer, the outcomes are much better when you give the person complete independence to do it his/her way! But you will need to give the bigger picture to the person! You cannot just ask him/her to input data into an excel sheet, you will have to explain how the calculations in this excel sheet are going to help the Business unit head to take some strategic decisions! Showing the bigger picture rather than just explaining the task does wonders!
Bottom line: Prioritise! And whatever comes as a blocker(whether blocking your mind or your time), Let go of it! After letting go of it, don’t feel guilty!
It could also work the other way around. If your priority happens to be to go with the child to the school annual day event but that means missing out the exclusive invite that you have received from your office to participate in the special dinner organized as the MD is visiting, you will have to Let that go without any stress or guilt!