What Do Women Want?

It’s been a tough week, and I suspect more than a few women are feeling the added pressure from the COVID restrictions.  What COVID has done is highlight, rather than create, the disproportionate burden that falls upon women.

Freud was a man of his times. He once said, “The great question that has never been answered, and which I have not yet been able to answer, despite my thirty years of research into the feminine soul, is ‘What does a woman want?'” 

Studies tracking both paid and unpaid tasks indicate that women spend close to three hours more working than men. This is the case in both developed and developing nations.  And women make lower wages than their male counterparts when looking at paid work.  Basically, women work harder and make less.

This is not being pointed out to bash men or try to invite everyone to a pity party.

But it is meant to be self-reflective: 

If you are a woman reading this blog, think about this; just because you are busy doesn’t mean you are getting things done. Do you know what makes you happy? Are you working towards it? It can make us unhappy and perhaps even bitter if we do not consciously answer these questions.

Today’s blog explores the link between productivity and happiness – or more aptly, the link between finding free time and happiness. 

It is crucial to position yourself to achieve a positive state of mental. Perhaps most of us women don’t know what happiness is anymore. We want to get things done and keep the peace. Or we feel we don’t deserve happiness. We parked our sense of fulfillment a long time ago.  

“Wait a minute, you mean I once was happy and not busy? I don’t remember but I wish I could.”

I bet you feel you are too busy even to read this blog. And we can all relate. Everyone else’s needs and wants come first, and you fall down the list somewhere. Well, I am here to be that voice that is trying to get out. Is it time for self-care and focus on number one: “YOU”?

If you cannot be good to yourself, its hard to be there for others.

Be “good” to yourself so you can be the “best” you for others. Reposition yourself to be more productive, get things done and love yourself more. And to be clear, its also about prioritizing self-care. Because you are busy, I will keep this blog short and straight to the point. You want to hear the nuts and bolts, not the “feel-good” platitudes [or if you prefer, use the term glib or pat remarks] that sometimes we hear that is hot air and not sustainable or helpful.

People get joy from being and not from doing. Avoid going through your days just doing. Be a human being. Have a “to be” list, not a “to-do” list. Be kind to yourself. Listen to yourself, and I am sure you have all read about the usual tips: meditate, exercise, journaling, drink green juice and so on.  These are all great …. but not for everyone all the time.  Experiment and try different avenues.

And do not be afraid to snuggle with your sadness instead of struggling with it. You will reconcile back to yourself. Here are a few nuts and bolts that you will find helpful:

PRODUCTIVITY

Some steps to increase your productivity:

  • First and foremost, write your script the night before. Decide what tasks you plan the following day. Don’t wing your day. How successful would a coach of your favorite team be if he or she showed up without a script?
  • Have a clear goal for the day. It should be simple such that if you tell it to a seven-year-old, they understand it well enough to explain it to another seven-year-old. 
  • The next thing in getting productive is to have a checklist. If you have ever flown and paid attention to the pilot, you will often hear them say, “Check.” The Pilots always have a checklist. You may have heard them also say, “Flight attendants, prepare for take-off please.” That’s another set of items on their list. And in this case, they are delegating that set of items to someone else that is entrusted to complete them.
  • Figure out the road map. Make sure there is a time limit and a stop. Like taking a road trip. You don’t drive without stopping.
  • Ask what resources you need to get things done? Then get productive. Remember to do the biggest tasks first. When you go to the gym and train, by the end of the sessions your muscles are exhausted. Don’t do the hard tasks last.

“Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” Mark Twain

HAPPINESS

What is happiness? One way to define it is to use the legend of the Musk Deer. 

One day, the Musk Deer was roaming about the mountains and sniffed a breath of perfume. He was profoundly determined to find the source of this heavenly fragrance. He leapt from one part of the forest to another in its pursuit. The animal no longer ate, drank, or slept. Despite the severely cold winter, it roamed about in a desperate search. He did not know where the scent of the musk came from, but it was always in the air taunting him.  He pursued it through ravines, forests, and hills. The Musk Deer knew no fear and no rest for years and years until one day it fell from a cliff with a fatal injury.

While taking its last breath, the Musk Deer suddenly realized that the scent which ravished its heart, making it roam aimlessly all through life, came from its own navel. He gasped, but it was too late. The scent that the deer looked for externally was, all the while, contained in itself. The last few moments of the deer’s life were moments of regrets for having chased after something, all life-long that was ultimately within itself.

The Musk Deer fooled himself into thinking that that happiness was outside and neglected to look within. 

Remember, you choose to be happy or not. Take time to reflect on what is going on. Try these six things:

  1. Cold plunge. This recommendation may be foreign to you but try it. Start with warm water in the shower and slowly go to cold. It will heal and calm those bubbles of stress or pain.  They will slowly flatten or even dissolve. A cold shower will increase endorphins. These are the feel-good hormones in your brain. As an athlete, I often use a cold shower or ice baths to reduce inflammation after running ultramarathons. Cold showers are soothing and a gentle form of electroshock therapy. Science has proved that taking a cold shower daily or at a minimum three times a week will relieve symptoms of depression.
  2. Have some downtime. Listen to your favourite music and remember the good old days when you were young in your teenage days. Or go to a memory that brings you joy. Perhaps it’s the moment you held your firstborn child or graduated from school or the smile you got when you made someone’s day. Let those moments consume you.
  3. Mirror Exercises. Say this to yourself every morning, “I love you; I am so so proud of you, you are somebody. I am grateful for you” Say those loving words every day.
  4. DO NOT MULTI-TASK. Scientifically studied that only 2% of the people in the world can multi-task. Don’t pretend that you are part of that 2%.  It doesn’t work and it’s not productive.
  5. Ask for help and delegate, delegate, delegate!!
  6.   Say NO. Decline to things that distract you from getting done and do not add value to your life. Do not make excuses or explain yourself. Remember you are saying no to the request not to the person.

“No” is a complete sentence” Annie Lamott

Well, my time is up as I know you are a busy person. Be good to yourself. And thank you for taking the time to read my blog. If you know a “busy” woman, don’t take it for granted. She is human, not a machine. Remind her that she matters.

Freud admitted that his understanding of women was limited. He wrote in 1933, “If you want to know more about femininity, enquire about your own experiences of life, or turn to poets, or wait until science can give you deeper and more coherent information.”

How about, ask women what they want? I hope women reading this blog can take a moment to celebrate themselves for all the great things they continue to do. And men reading this continue to support them and help them because it’s not the load they carry that breaks them; it’s the way they carry that load. Help them maintain it well.