A couple of months ago we sent out a survey via our newsletter and Twitter asking “What is on your mind this month?” While the answers varied, by far you responded most with: How to be resilient when everything is going to shit. Wow, does it ever feel some days over the last couple of years like everything is going to shit!
Many of us live in places where we continue to be hit with wave after wave of COVID outbreaks and restrictions which make the pandemic feel never ending. Climate change is rocking the world in many areas with unprecedented fires, floods, and other natural disasters. Some of us live in locations where economic recovery has been slow and inflation rates are rising. Closer to home we are dealing with stress and burnout (see last month’s newsletter). We worry about the mental health of those around us—especially our children, and pressures haven’t let up in our workplaces. Indeed, while many of us are being asked to slide back into once-normal routines of in-person ways of working, nothing feels “normal”.
So, what then of being resilient in the face of all of these challenges? Well, we have offered numerous Remarkable Resources over the past two years through the #happyacademic newsletter and an integrated work system to support everyone doing academic work through our book. But one piece of advice that we keep coming back to is simply:
remember to give yourself a break
because sometimes good enough, is enough.
‘Good enough’ can sure be hard for high-performers, over-achievers, and perfectionists. But when things are especially challenging: stop and reflect. Ask yourself: of all the balls I am currently juggling, which can I drop right now and still get by? What things can I lower my standards around—and embrace being ‘good enough’?
The author of this month’s Remarkable Resource recognized that she was juggling too many balls and then started to drop them on purpose. One of the most shocking personal stories she shares is when she didn’t respond to an invite her child received to a birthday party because it was one of the balls she chose to drop. While this might not be the ball you chose to drop, this book inspires us to identify which balls we drop to make us feel more content and resilient when everything is going to shit.
Drop the Ball: Achieving More By Doing Less
by Tiffany Dufu
Hear Tiffany Dufu explain how she defines “dropping the ball” in a YouTube video below. Her book, part memoir and part manifesto, is about a high-achieving woman and is written for those who feel similar drive and aspiration. However, anyone who feels the pressure of balancing work and home life and feeling like they need to juggle all the balls all the time can benefit. It is also for anyone who shares a house with someone who is that person!
While reading the book, use this great workbook available online.
- We often think we must do it all, to feel as if we have it all—this can be counter-productive.
- Focus on your highest point of contribution: just because you can do it, doesn’t mean you should do it. Delegation can be the key to success if we can recognize that it is ok when others don’t do things exactly how we would have done them, and they may even do it better.
- Most people’s to-do lists are not realistic. Start thinking differently about these lists and what goes on them. Be more selective and focus on the vital few over the more trivial many.
- Offers a new perspective as to why the women’s leadership movement has stalled and why a movement of diversity of roles at home could be the answer.
- When you next catch yourself imposing extremely high, even unrealistic aspirations on yourself—what feelings do you have when you contemplate letting some of these go and aiming for ‘good enough’? What feeling may stop you letting go and how can you stop them from having such influence?
- Thinking of situations when you could have delegated, but didn’t—identify what thoughts and feelings you had that stopped you doing this. How can you delegate more by working through these feelings?
- Women often work in systems that are ripe with inequalities, in and outside of the academic workplace. How can we each better challenge and change unrealistic expectations that women often have to navigate in work and life?