“Living a Consistently Good Life” by Dr. Kelly Wesener Michael

At some point in my life, I realized I had a disconnect. The organizational skills, time management, and
priority setting capabilities I used in my job did not always get applied in my personal life. Why did my
inbox at work stay under some level of control, but the mail stacked up at home?

Life always gives us the opportunity to grow, evolve, and figure it out… As a mid-career professional,
enjoying my position as Assistant Vice President, I, to my surprise, ran into this great guy who had three
children. Fast forward, we were getting married, buying a home, and I was adding a husband, and 3-,
5-, and 8-year old to my life. How would I juggle this? Stepping back, I realized I juggle many things
in my job—routine tasks, projects, crises, etc. If I could do it at work, I could use the same skills and
methods to manage my life. Fast forward, again, through one and half years of marriage, finding day
care, completing the big landscape project, beginning kindergarten, and moving into an Acting Vice
President’s role, and I’ve learned a few things. So I thought I would share some “tricks of the trade” as I
finally made the connection that a life lived with consistent application of my skills creates a consistently
good life.

The most important survival mechanism is “do it days.” At the beginning of the semester, I reserve a
vacation day every 3-4 weeks to tackle the ever-growing to do list. I drop off dry cleaning, buy cards and
gifts needed for the month ahead, return the shirt that I thought would be flattering. The “do it day”
releases the stress of “when will this get done?” and frees my time on the weekends.

There’s a lot of planning in my life. Short-term planning: my daughter’s outfits are selected and
stacked for the week—no morning fashion negotiations. The menu is determined for the week, with
ingredients purchased in the one trip to the grocery store. There’s long-range planning, too: commit
to next year’s necessities—vacation, family reunion, girlfirends’ weekend, taking the family photo. I
make appointments six months in advance—dentist, haircuts, doctors. I avoid continually making
appointments, and it keeps me honest. If the annual physical is scheduled, it is more difficult to put it
off “one more month.”

I value time and energy. Every few months, I do an “irritation audit” and examine things within my
control that frustrate me or that I avoid. After I have found where my positive energy is being taken, I
create an action plan. If I fear opening the closet door because of the ensuing avalanche, I formulate a
plan to clean the blasted thing.

Another part of the irritation evaluation involves looking at components within a system. I am married
to an engineer. The engineer values efficiency. Individual parts create a system, so the problem is never
the entire system but, rather, a component. Identify and fix the faulty component, and the system
succeeds. I have learned to find the real problem. Let me give you an example. Getting three kids out
the door to school is an undertaking! In winter, it’s boots, bulky coats, missing mittens, coat zippers
with scarves zipped in them… and all occurs in the small space of our mud room. Add in kids pushing for
space, accidentally-on-purpose running into one another, whining—you get the picture. Not a Zen way
to begin my day! Using the lens of the engineer, I discovered the problem wasn’t the complete process
but, rather, the small space. My solution: each child gets a “station” (a kitchen chair, the couch, etc.)
where I place the coat, boots, back pack, etc. Everyone is able to get ready in their own space, and Zen

is restored.

Adding to the Zen of the morning is my transportation system. If it needs to be transported in the
morning (the show-and-tell item, 4th grade class project), it goes in the vehicle the night prior so as not
to be forgotten in the rush.

And “rush” can dominate your life. I buy time. I am fortunate to have the resources to hire someone
to clean my house. I struggled with this decision and the guilt of having someone take on work I was
capable of doing myself (“slacker” came to mind!). Once I let go of the guilt, I found that I gained not
only a clean home but, more importantly, the time it takes to do the cleaning. Resources may not allow
for regular or full house cleaning, but you might be able to manage a bi-weekly bathroom cleaning or
monthly floor vacuum and mopping, or annual window washing. Each is precious time purchased.

In addition to buying time, I make time. I have found a way to sneak a few minutes for myself. When
I get home from work, I sneak to my bedroom to change into my jeans. It is here where I linger. I take
a moment to settle my mind, read a paragraph in a book, or write in a gratitude journal. It’s the few
minutes I treasure. Then it’s off to make dinner…

Finally, I do my best to not waste time and energy on indecision, doubt, and guilt. Women spend lots of
time questioning and placing pressure on ourselves—Is this good enough? Can I do it? I should… We
are all doing the best we can with the time, energy, and resources we have. Trust your instincts, apply
your many skills across your life, let go of the guilt, and move on. You are enough, and your life can be
consistently good.

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1 Comment

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One response to ““Living a Consistently Good Life” by Dr. Kelly Wesener Michael

  1. Ana Blechschmidt

    Isn’t it good to realize that all that angst in your 20s and early 30s was useful afterall. Without it, you wouldn’t be able to balance your hundred balls in the air all day, every day, and still have a happy husband and three wonderful kids, not to mention a job that keeps trying to be more than full time. Well done.

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