Entrepreneur Mom

with Aliza Sherman

If you own a business - home-based or otherwise - this is the blog where you'll find practical tips and smart ideas about entrepreneurship. I've started and run 4 different businesses so "been there, done that." I'll also invite successful entrepreneurs to share their best advice with you.

To learn more about Aliza, check out her profile on Work It, Mom! and her website, www.mediaegg.com.

Help! My Life is Running Me

Categories: Uncategorized, Work/Life


Problogger, Gina Blitstein, offers up simple, yet effective, solutions to common problems women entrepreneurs face and the stresses they can lead to.

By Gina Blitstein

Recently I read a comment from a woman I follow on Twitter. She’s a cool lady whose blog I was fortunate to discover a couple years ago. I enjoyed her authenticity and her sense of humor. She’s an all-around nice person I’d be happy to know in real life - but only know virtually. She tweets about everything from her children’s adventures and misadventures, her ostensibly wonderful husband, trials at work or rudeness at her local Burger King. Like I said, she has all the appeal of a friend - except, of course, we’ve never actually met.

But anyone who’s chatted with those we meet in online communities like Twitter know that sometimes among the more banal and mundane comments we share in order to connect with one another is once in a while a kernel of wisdom - or at least truth and genuineness. And on September 28th, that’s exactly what I heard from this friend, “C.” Here is her Tweet, verbatim: “All day I’ve been feeling like my life is running me. I want to change that, but … how to be in charge, but not rigid?” “Wow!” I thought…”That’s heavy.” Her comment struck me as a genuine cry for help. C is definitely not alone in feeling this way - we’ve all been there. It just came out of the blue at 7:06 PM and was a call to action. “That’s a great topic for a Work It, Mom article!” I thought. C’s words resonated with me and sparked a plan - I’d research and write on this topic to help solve this dilemma for C and the rest of us who suffer from feeling this way!

The first step to attacking a problem is to identify how it has come to be. Let’s explore some of the possible reasons our lives are leading us around by the nose.

“We have the sense our lives are running us versus our running them because we engage daily in the single most deadly combat known to the professional woman today: Clock combat,” says Christine Louise Hohlbaum, author of ‘The Power of Slow: 101 Ways to Save Time in Our 24/7 World.’ Christine explains, “We race against time with a collective sense of urgency and somehow think by doing so, we are productive. It’s simply not true. We may not be to control time, but we can control what we do in the time we have.”

Christine outlines the misgivings under which we operate that cause us to feel a loss of control over our own lives. Many of us - unfortunately - can relate to these ways of getting through the day.

Problem #1 - We attempt to do too many things at once. Multitasking is a myth. Science shows our brains task-switch. We simply cannot fully focus on more than one thing at a time.
Solution - Slow down and look at the Big Picture. What are you running toward? Take a moment to remember what is truly important, then focus on that ~one thing at a time!

Problem #2 - We say ‘yes’ when we mean ‘no.’ It leads to unnecessary stress as we try to please everyone other than ourselves (including clients, family, friends and colleagues).
Solution - Learn to say ‘no’ with kindness. Remember saying ‘no’ to something is actually saying ‘yes’ to yourself.

Problem #3 - We forget who’s running the ship. Too often we think external circumstances are in control. The reality is we are.
Solution - Remember you are the master of your own ship. How you decide to divvy out the units in your personal bank account of time is entirely up to you.

Certainly these are issues worth taking some effort to think about. Often we are so busy and have so many demands upon our time and energy that we slip into ‘auto pilot’ rather than making the very changes that could put us back in the driver’s seat. No wonder we feel that we’re not in charge…we’re not!

Admittedly, we will rock the proverbial boat by delegating, slowing our pace and simplifying; however that is precisely the type of change we need to implement in order to get a handle on our life. But that’s the thing…it’s our life and we should - and can - be in charge. Now that we’re aware of some of the pitfalls to which we’ve succumbed, let’s climb out - one step at a time - and start making the changes it will take to be the one running the show!

What changes can you make to stop being run by your life?

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4 comments so far...

  • My life is not running me, but I do make choices in order to not “rock the boat.” And since this means I take on more than most people, I need to be that much more disciplined in my day-to-day life. Unfortunately, I am very distractable and spend way too much time procrastinating. I suck at prioritizing the time when I sit at my computer. Sometimes, after working my butt off, I effectively give myself time off (i.e., procrastinate some more), yet I don’t always spend that time doing beneficial things. So I end up trading sleep, rest, exercise, etc. for late-night computer work. And despite that, I never seem to catch up.

    So what I really need to do is learn how to discipline myself better - to get serious about setting and following priorities. I’ve known for some time that this is what I need, yet I haven’t made much progress.

    SKL  |  November 17th, 2009 at 8:15 pm

  • ‘The Power of Slow’ addresses procrastination in an entire chapter. There are ways to avert procrastinating by breaking things into smaller pieces, determining what is truly important to you and focusing on the big picture. Procrastination is a big time-suck and can be addressed by first forgiving yourself for not being all things to all people, including to yourself. The next time you feel yourself falling into the procrastination trap, tell yourself you will tackle that projects you’ve been avoiding for merely five minutes and that you can stop after that if you want. Chances are it’s merely getting started that’s the hardest part. Once you are into it, you will find it gets easier…and done faster!

    Christine Louise Hohlbaum  |  November 18th, 2009 at 1:41 pm

  • Thank you for such great insight and advice Gina. I definitely feel, and have felt most of my life, that my life is running me.
    The thing that stuck out the most in your article to me is “saying no with kindness.” I think that for the most part it is a learned behavior, for example, if we weren’t “allowed” to say no in our childhood (and in some cases, adulthood!) it is hard to put saying no and saying yes to ourselves into practice in the real world. This is something that I have been working on recently, and in fact, I’ve found that the world does not crumble, nor do I get struck down by lightening when I say now with kindness EVEN if the other person is unhappy with my answer. Sometimes I even have to say NO with kindness multiple times. The part I get caught in is when they demand an explaination. I’m learning that I do not always have to give a thorough one, something simple as, “it just won’t work out for me”, will sometimes do. The other dilemma, and one I’m unsure of, is do I have to apologize? I am a chronic apologizer. (Another thing I believe is taught to us in childhood, and also in previous relationships throughout our life.)
    Anyways, it’s good to hear in any case that it is ok to say “no”, and most importantly in “in kindness”……….because for someone like me, maybe it’s the permission that I am looking for from somebody, anybody, before I feel that I’m worthy of enough of doing just that. Thanks again.

    Erin  |  February 4th, 2010 at 3:29 am

  • With precious little time left each evening after a long day at work “managing” quite a bit, we all know our night jobs begin. We cook dinner, perhaps do a load or two of laundry, or help put it away if we’re lucky enough to have someone who is helping out (insert husband here), we clean up a bit here and there — maybe — and if you’re me, only enough to give the appearance that things are in order. It’s an illusion. And so I agree with you. I agree that we are able to make decisions about it all, like, not do the dishes, or avoid putting the laundry away. I count that as a “no.” I choose instead to sit with family an hour or so in the evening watching a show that isn’t much in the grander scheme of things, but provides the three of us with some down time. I agree that I am in control — no question. What I continue to struggle with is, after I’ve done all of the above, in the end, I’m still left with all that I chose not to do. It always feels like a rude consequence after I wielded my mighty authority. Am I the only one who feels like this?

    Kelly  |  February 5th, 2010 at 1:35 am