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“Live as though your life depends on it. Today is critically important. After all, life is just a series of todays.” She looked at me unflinchingly as she said it. I paused… then nodded as I thought about the weight and beauty of her perspective.
Rethinking how to navigate your todays, based on life’s fragility, needn’t feel gloomy. Discussing April’s outlook and zeal for designing a life of intention radiates optimism.
A trained psychologist and healthcare researcher, she’s had a direct view into life’s impermanence and how people faced with terminal conditions assess choices they’ve made. “At the end of their time, people regret not seeing family, not taking risks or trying things.”
Noted. She had my full attention within the first 30 seconds of our call.
Who wouldn’t want greater presence with family, the pursuit of passion projects and personal growth? All require effort and changing habits, as with any transformation. Transformation requires energy. Energy is not plentiful among Moms.
How do you shift from lacking space for basic self-care and self-reflection, to routine personal growth?
We discussed her experiences with everything from following passions; life hacks to tame the mental workload and how she’s set up her schedule for meaningful endeavors.
It Starts With Choosing The Right Ideas
“I have to feel passionate about something. As an entrepreneur, I have more control over my time.” She admits there are challenges to being multi-passionate, however, she owns the need to pick only what really matters.
Amidst running her consultancy firm, chasing an active toddler and aligning work/life schedules with her husband she launched a podcast. Women Inspired celebrates the achievements of women with the courage to chart their path, often straight to the top of their fields.
Why this topic? “I studied the impact of gender stereotypes on women in strong positions and am cognizant of the experiences they’re having….” She also observed “Women are often hitting their stride in their mid to late thirties. There are a lot of cool things to celebrate and it just wasn’t happening.”
She feels a need to help close this gap personally. “I want to motivate others and improve the process.” She admits it’s scary. “I have to remind myself before leaping into something new, it’s going to be fine.”
How She Gets It All Done
Predictably, I wanted the ‘how’ since many sizzle with new ideas yet get stuck on the execution. “My daughter is in daycare. As an entrepreneur, it makes life saner.” She plans around a work schedule from 8:30 am to 4 pm most days.
She complements old-school note taking with brilliant technology hacks. “Use and abuse that $700 device for everything it’s worth! The (online) calendar is my bible.” She schedules everything. Yes…even workouts are a repeating appointment.
Caring for a toddler and running a business are dynamic, she plans for inevitable tweaks. “I check my schedule for that day and the next, every morning.” Twice a week she reviews her calendar for the next week and adjusts as needed. The calendar is for time management, not her to-do list however she ‘blocks’ off appropriate time in her calendar to accomplish what’s on her list. The calendar becomes an ally, visually confirming what she’s doing is possible. “It’s tangible…(it says to me) you can do this!”
She and her husband also have a framework to prioritize family time. “I keep a shared Google calendar with him, rigged with reminders.” We found ourselves rushing from obligation to obligation on weekends when my husband wasn’t working… this manifested into limited quality time together.” Now, they map out the work-free weekends in advance each quarter and define the ‘non-negotiable’ dates. “We plan for our wants versus just obligations.” Family-together weekends are allocated first. We had to set boundaries.
Managing That Pesky Mental Load…
“I am someone who is prone to overschedule… if I see margin I quickly try to fill it. However, I need some white space to quiet my mind down.”
She described (somewhat wistfully) a future with more freedom from the calendar. “I’d be much more fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants. I know there are positives that come with that… but I’d wonder in the middle of the night, if I got something done. Or, worse if I forgot something important!”
The calendar-as-bible approach quiets that internal voice of worry. “Giving up spontaneity, for now, is well worth the sacrifice to quiet my brain.”
I couldn’t help but share my current obsession with researching the mental load. She laughed, “Holy crap is that real! I had to go to extremes to minimize the mental load.”
Evernote is her place for repeatable lists – she thinks about it once and then systematizes it. “I have a packing list for every time we go out on the boat or take my daughter to swim lessons. I don’t even have to think about it anymore…or risk forgetting the right shoes. Checkboxes mean no mental load!”
If you could design your life, would it look the way you’re living it now? “I’d love to teach others how to mentally experiment… just get past the fear it will be too difficult.” She’s in the process of creating her first live workshop to help people do exactly that.
It all reverts to living your values and passions with the time you have. This life lens that originally energized April to start a business, is now guiding her to pursue passion projects like her podcast and live workshops. During our first call, she shared how shortly after the first woman qualified for American Ninja Warriors, at a time previously unimagined, other women quickly followed. “Everything changes when you see that something is possible. That artificial barrier holding people back disappears.”’
About April Seifert
Dr. April Seifert is a Cognitive Psychologist, runs a data science consultancy and is the Co-Founder of Peak Mind, the Center for Psychological Strength. She also hosts the weekly Peak Mind podcast, formerly Women Inspired, with stories about building a mental toolkit to promote resiliency and well-being. Follow April’s latest adventures on Instagram or sign up for regular updates from AprilSeifert.com.Tags: Career development, entrepreneurship, learning, Moms Growth, Moms Self care, professional development, side hustle, stress management, Work life balance, Working Moms