This week marked the start of my maternity leave, yet I still can’t believe that I am at the end of my pregnancy! Having never taken more than three weeks off work since I started my role in an accounting firm over 13 years ago, this “transition” period feels strange, yet exciting and scary at the same time! I can only imagine what life will be like when our little princess arrives any day now.
I know that pregnancy is not something that everyone has been through or is planning to experience in the future. It’s a life choice that’s not for everyone. However it has taught me some valuable LIFE lessons which I want to share with you. As a type-A perfectionist, I am used to controlling every aspect of my life, which I know is a common trait amongst high achieving women. Yet there are situations in life – pregnancy being one of them – that force us to let go of that control and be open to new experiences and ways.
Here are the key things I have learned which I hope will inspire change in your own life, no matter what stage you are in:
1: Go with your gut – eat and drink what feels good
For the past nine months, I have had no choice but to listen to my body and give it nourishment and rest it needs to grow our baby girl. Our bodies are incredible and when you truly listen – they tell you exactly what they need in order to thrive.
There are always going to be people that tell you what to eat and what not to eat, however your best guide is YOU. The statistics support maintaining that flexibility – and you can read this book to find out why. Enjoy that glass of wine, good quality sashimi or deli meats. In saying that, don’t use external factors as an excuse to eat McDonalds or junk food! I have not had any cravings (lucky for hubby!) during pregnancy as I have been taking great supplements, eating a variety of foods and maintaining a positive mindset. I will admit that I have eaten junk food occasionally – I am not perfect and I was completely conscious that it was my choice to do so. However if you are having cravings at any point in your life make sure you investigate the cause – you may be lacking in particular nutrients or your mind is reacting to a situation.
2: Move without guilt
I apply the same logic to exercise as I do with my diet. Gym, Crossfit, walking, yoga – I did it before I was pregnant so why should I stop now? Of course I dropped the intensity, particularly in the first and third trimesters. Simply listen to your body and show it respect. Movement helps you to maintain a strong mind and body. As a result, I have put on minimal weight during my pregnancy, I feel strong, and I know it will make post-recovery at lot easier both physically and mentally.
3: Break free from busy
At the beginning of 2017 I made a pact with myself that I would not sign up to any eCourses this year. I made one exception and I am glad I did – Katie Lee’s Break Free From Busy. I have written about Katie’s book, The Effortless Everyday, in a previous post, and her eCourse cemented the following aspects I needed to change in my life:
- Rather than doing it all, focus on one task at a time. We hold the belief that multi-tasking is better, yet it leads to inefficiency and overwhelm. By staying present in each and every task that I undertake, I have been more productive in the past couple of months. It allowed me to finish work with ease and satisfaction.
- Declutter your house to make daily life effortless. Having a baby means I have been given a lot of stuff, yet it hasn’t been overwhelming because I have systemised the storage and use of those items so our home is still spacious. It also forced me to get rid of a lot of things that weren’t of value.
- Automate recurring admin tasks. Receiving and paying bills electronically, processing emails and dealing with paperwork immediately are the key areas I have focussed on. Automating tasks and “touching” things only once means you don’t have to constantly think about them (or forget them!).
- It’s ok to say no or admit you can’t follow through on a commitment. This one was a biggie for me as I am used to operating at 150% and fitting it all in at the expense of my health (and sanity!). My amazing career mentor, Kellie Tomney, helped me to prioritise what was high impact and high value in my life so I could assess opportunities that came my way. Katie’s eCourse reminded me that I am not letting anyone else down by saying “no”. As a result, I have allowed more time and space to do the things that light me up.
- Let go and ask for help. Another challenge for me! I had a tendency to do things myself because I think I can do them better, yet I failed to consider whether it was a valuable use of my scarce time. Katie recommended a book called “Drop the Ball” on why I should let go of my control over everything. My biggest lesson to date – hubby can do a lot to take the pressure off me – I just need to ask. My other recommendation is that as soon as you can afford it, hire a cleaner. Unless something brings you joy and you have ample time to do it, outsource the tasks that others can do better or simply let go of your expectations that they be done immediately.
4: Be comfortable with white space…and meditate
I have dabbled with guided meditations for years now, however I never really felt the true impact until last month when I attended Tom Cronin’s weekend course with hubby. Tom explained the science behind the practice and why it’s not possible to completely still your mind during meditation. Since lowering my expectations on what it means to “meditate” and practising daily, I have moved through my days with clarity and purpose. I now feel calm and in control throughout the day. To my surprise, I have also received strong guidance during my meditations, including when to say “no” to things and how to tackle issues.
I know meditation isn’t for everyone and I am not going to pretend that my “practice” is perfect. On some days, meditation might mean having my eyes closed for 10 minutes on the train with a coffee in my hands. There is no right or wrong way to approach meditation. Call it anything you like -mindfulness, stillness, deep breathing. I simply encourage you to keep trying and make it work for you.
5: Finally…enjoy life!
We are all so busy doing it all that we can lose perspective on the bigger picture. For years I have struggled to enjoy life because I am constantly focussing on the “next thing” I need to achieve. Yet all the pressure being placed on myself is by ME. Therefore I alone have the power to remove that pressure. So next time you feel the need to get something done in a particular timeframe – that house renovation, blog post, course, etc – ask yourself “what would happen if I didn’t get it done by X date, or never?” Once you realise that all the urgency is coming from YOU, it is a lot easier to defer tasks or projects so that you have the time and space to celebrate your current successes and simply enjoy LIFE.
As I sit at the door of hubby’s pro shop at North Bondi Golf Course waiting for him to finish a lesson, I could go on and on about what I have learned this past year, but I will stop there because I know that I will continue to have the opportunity to write to you in the future!
I hope this post helps you in some way, no matter what stage of life you are experiencing.