Three Hats

by Denise Druce | October 17th, 2012 | Fitness Expert

We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop ~Mother Theresa

Donna wakes up to the blaring alarm at 4:30am.  She laces on her running shoes and heads out the door to get in her long run for the week.  She gets home just in time to wake her three kids, shovel Eggo waffles down their throats on the way to the minivan, as it’s her turn for carpool.  As she pulls up in front of the school, sweaty hair still sticking to her face, she gasps at the banner advertising the school fundraiser.  It reminds her that the PTA meeting is this morning, and since she is President, she better be there.  Her kids get a frantic pat on the head as she rushes back home to change out of her wet clothes and then races back for the meeting.  As the board members drone on, she checks her iPhone to see that her boss is adamant about her coming into the office today to meet with an important client.  She wraps up the meeting, slams a cup of bad 7-11 coffee down her throat on the way to the office where she hopes no one will notice that she has used car freshener instead of perfume to cover up the smell of sweat.  On the way into the meeting, she sees a text from her husband telling her he loves her but won’t be home for dinner but would like to schedule some ‘us’ time.  Her fleeting thought is ‘I wonder if a kid ever died from eating Eggo waffles for breakfast and dinner?’

If any of this sounds familiar, (uh hello, this sounds like my life!) then maybe you’re wearing more than Three Hats.  A wise person once told me that if we wear more than three hats, we don’t wear any of them well.  So let’s look at Donna.  She’s a Mom.  She’s a wife.  She’s President of the PTA.  She has a job. She’s a marathon runner.  That’s five hats, and chances are, there are many more hats in her closet.  In this age of instant everything and multi-tasking, our stress levels are at an all-time-high, and our relationships are at an all-time-low.  Something has got to give.

I think the first step to finding a life of better balance is to sit down and make a list of all the hats you wear.  Once you have a complete list, begin to prioritize hats.  Identify your top three.  Those are the hats you will wear well.  Then comes the hard part.  The rest of the hats either stay in place and crowd out your attention, or you can start to decide which hats you wear best, and move the rest of the hats down the line.  It may not be necessary to remove them completely, but some scaling back might be in order.

Just Say NO

Saying ‘No’ has never been easy for me.  I’m a people pleaser, and I want to keep everyone happy.  Quite often that ends up having the opposite result, because I’m spread so thin I’m not making anyone happy.  Donna is headed for the same result.  So what could she say ‘No’ to?  Let’s look at her options.  She could quit her job, which her family relies upon for financial support.  She could leave her husband and drop the kids off at McDonalds and never come back.  Not an option either.  She could give up on her marathon training, which may be closely tied to her self-esteem and might be a personal promise she has made to herself.  Tough call.  She could quit the PTA, which would leave people in a difficult situation, and leave her with feelings of guilt for not following through with a commitment.  No easy answers.   So if saying ‘No’ is not an option, how about some good old-fashioned compromise.

Combining Hats

Where can Donna combine hats?  Thinking outside the box might bring up some possible solutions.  Since running is important to her, and so is her family, could she find a way to run with her family?  Maybe the older kids could ride bikes, and she could push the younger one in a jogging stroller.  Maybe she and her hubby could work out together at a gym a couple of times a week for ‘us’ time.  Maybe she could talk the PTA folks into taking up running with her.  I know, right?  But I can dream.  How about negotiating longer lunches so she can run during the day, and work more efficiently to make up the extra time.

Out of Balance for a Season

But what do we do when we have created our list of hats, and we see just how many things and people are vying for our attention?  It’s a reality check.  In First Things First, Stephen Covey says that we can agree with ourselves and with those who are impacted by our decisions to live out of balance for a Season.  If there is no reasonable way to eliminate one of our hats, and if we can establish a timeline for when we can eliminate a hat, then we can negotiate.   In this scenario, Donna might sit down with her family and ask them to be patient with Eggo’s for dinner until she can get the marathon behind her.  Or maybe she hires some help for the next few months.  Or she might negotiate with her boss to give her a flex schedule until the school year is over with the understanding that she will let the PTA position go then.  We can deal with the physical, mental and emotional stress that comes with a too-full life if we know there is an end in sight.  It’s when we view this lifestyle as our destiny that we start to feel helpless, stressed out, overwhelmed and depressed.

There’s Always Time for Yoga

I’m not asking you here to put on another hat.  I’m asking you to consider using yoga as a tool that will help you navigate all of your hats.  It has been said that if you’re breathing, and you’re aware that you’re breathing, you’re doing yoga.  So simply sitting at a traffic light and taking a few deep, belly breaths is practicing yoga off the mat.  Applying the yogic principle of Ahimsa, or non-violence would help you say ‘No’, when saying yes would cause harm to your health.  Spending a few minutes in meditation each morning would help you feel centered and calm, so the next time you find yourself trying to cram a hundred hats on your head, you can take a step back and choose just the three that you want to wear well in that moment.

Pause and Notice

One more thing.  When you are actually successful at taking a step back and choosing your three hats, I think it’s important to pause and look in the mirror.  You really do look stunning in those hats, and you wear them well.  When you have simplified your life, it’s easy to have withdrawals from the addiction of busy-ness.  Remember that you are enough, just the way you are.  Your drop in the ocean is all that’s needed to make the world a better place.  Give yourself time to adjust to this new version of you.  The one who is clear about what’s important in life, the one who is effective in all three of your roles, and the one who looks pretty hot in that hat!

If you would like more information about fitness, yoga and balancing your life, please find me at www.DeniseDruce.com.

  1. Lyndee Crawford says:

    You are inspirational!! I also wear too many hats, but am currently finding ways to get rid of a few! BTW I loved BOTH of your classes today. Thanks for helping both my physical and mental body stay strong. Lyndee Crawford

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