334: 3 Ways to Lighten the Load of Parenthood // Greg McKeown

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“Do you ever feel as though…

  • You’re running faster but not moving any closer to your goals? 
  • You want to make a higher contribution but lack the energy? 
  • You’re teetering right on the edge of burnout? 
  • Things are so much harder than they ought to be?”

Those questions come directly from the introduction of the New York Times Best-Selling book Effortless by Greg McKeown, and I will admit that next to each question in the margin of my copy of his book, I wrote, “yes, yes, yes, yes!” And maybe you are joining me with your own emphatic yeses as you listen to this podcast episode!

In last week’s episode, I talked about my deep desire in the new year to simplify my life, get back to the essentials, and get off of the “runaway train” of busyness and overwhelm. I shared three takeaways from Greg McKeown’s first book Essentialism, so be sure to go back and listen to that if you haven’t already, because today’s episode is a continuation of that discussion. Today, I am thrilled and honored to have author Greg McKeown on the podcast with me talking about his second book, Effortless

In the introduction to his book, in addition to that list of very relatable questions I started with, he says this, 

“There is an ebb and flow to life. Rhythms are in everything we do. There are times to push hard and times to rest and recuperate. But these days, many of us are pushing harder and harder all the time. There is no cadence, only grinding effort…

Life is hard, really hard, in all sorts of ways, ranging from the complicated to the weighty, the sad to the exhausting. Disappointments are hard. Paying the bills is hard. Strained relationships are hard. Raising children is hard. Losing a loved one is hard. There are periods in our lives when every day can be hard.

To try to pretend that a book can eliminate these hardships would be fanciful. I didn’t write this book to downplay these burdens; I wrote it to help you lighten them. This book may not make every hard thing easy to approach and carry, but I believe it can make many hard things easier.” 

So with that promise in mind, I can’t wait to share this episode with you, and I truly hope it will give you insights that will help lighten your mental and emotional load as you do the incredibly important work of motherhood. 

 

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3 Takeaways from Greg McKeown on How to Lighten the Load of Parenthood: 


  1. Employ the “85 Percent Rule.” Don’t believe the lie that maximum effort equals maximum results. Remember the race to the South Pole, and pace yourself…because optimal effort equals maximum results, not maximum effort. According to Greg’s research, optimal effort is generally about 85% of what would utterly burn you out, so think about that in terms of the things you do every day as a mother. How can you lower the bar a bit and accept that not everything has to be perfect or even your “best” work? How can you adjust your efforts to be 85% of maximum, even on days when you feel like you could do more? Because in motherhood, you will hit metaphorical bad weather days and seasons, and you will need some reserve in your emotional tank to keep going, so pace yourself in good times and in bad. 
  2. Start with zero. If your life feels heavy or overcomplicated, don’t try to just edit out a few things and expect that it will make everything better. Start with zero, meaning allow yourself to consider a totally new way of doing things without any precedent of “we’ve always done it this way.” What if you had a blank slate and could design a motherhood life based on what you and your family actually want, instead of what’s always been done or what your mother or society thinks is the right way to do things? When you allow yourself to start from zero, instead of starting from something complicated, you might surprise yourself with the clarity and creative ideas that come. 
  3. Practice radical gratitude. As Greg reminded us, gratitude doesn’t mean being thankful for the good things in your life; it means being thankful for everything in your life. This can be wildly difficult to achieve, of course; but the point of working towards this kind of radical gratitude– even unreasonable gratitude–isn’t because you should to be a “good person”…it’s because when you do, the struggles and hardships you face will truly start to feel a bit lighter. Choosing to see meaning in the hardest moments of your life is what will give you the strength to keep going, and that alone makes striving for gratitude worth it. 

 

>>> What did you learn from Greg’s takeaways? How can you see yourself applying them in YOUR motherhood? Tell us in the comments below.

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