119. Lower the Bar and Still Be Awesome

There isn’t a person on the planet that is capable of doing ALL the things. The truth is you can do ANYTHING, you just can’t do everything – at least not all at once.

We are fed this idea that we can “have it all” in our culture, but the trade-off for trying to live that way is inevitable exhaustion, not to mention the frustration that comes from feeling like the watered-down efforts we put into too many things isn’t giving us the results we want in anything.  Have you ever felt that way?!  I have many times!

One of my secret weapons to combat the societal pull to do too much is to lower the bar and still be awesome. This is not about dropping the ball (which is so easy to do when you’re overbooked and overwhelmed) – this is all about intentionally scaling back on things that you once thought were important to have the time to do what’s truly important.

Like having photo-worthy, plant-based, 3-course meals (yes, I did this since I was a food blogger at one time).

I share some in-depth examples of how I do this on the podcast today.

I’d love to have you join me! xo, Janeen

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[00:00:00] Janeen: Well, hey there you guys. Welcome back to another episode of the podcast. We are talking today about how to lower the bar and still be awesome.

[00:00:09] This is something that I have been thinking about and I have wanted to articulate. I had a conversation with one of my friends the other day about how to lower the bar and still be awesome, and I thought I should do a podcast about this so you can be thinking about it too, to help alleviate some of the burnout and stress that you have in your life.

[00:00:29] So there isn’t a person on the planet that is capable of doing all the things, no matter how much the world tells us that we can have it all. We really don’t want it all. We don’t want all of the stress and the overwhelm that comes with doing every single thing. One of the things that I love To tell my students is you can do anything.

[00:00:50] I am definitely not here to tell you that you can’t do things, for sure, but you can’t do everything. We don’t want to do everything. We want to [00:01:00] have space in our lives to do whatever it is that we want. We wanna have space to relax and to get to things that actually matter to us. So in order to have that, you need to be intentionally choose-y.

[00:01:13] You want to be thinking about things that you can be saying no to on purpose, and we don’t like to be choosy sometimes because we don’t wanna feel guilty for dropping the ball or not showing up for someone or something that seems important to us. And I’m not talking about that. I totally get that.

[00:01:32] The trick is to know what’s not important and what we can scale back on so that it’s not taking all of our time. And I used to be so guilty of doing things like this. I was the type of mom that made sure that all of my kids’ clothes were neatly stacked and folded inside of their dresser drawers.

[00:01:50] And the the towels in my closet looked amazing. Now I’m all about having tidy closets, , but not to the point where I am reticent about. [00:02:00] and it’s stressing me out cuz nobody ever looks in your closets and no one except for your kids looks through their dresser drawers and you might be like, But their clothes are wrinkly.

[00:02:09] Yeah, that’s something that I have intentionally let go of. And we’re gonna talk more about this as the podcast unfolds today. But again, like I was saying, the trick is to know what’s not important and more importantly than that, deciding intentionally what’s not going to be important to you anymore. I know for all of us, our lives are filled with obligations and with opportunities to do new things. It’s up to us to determine where to invest our limited resources, like our time and our energy.

[00:02:39] So this was something that was really hard for me to do because I am someone who believes in setting and achieving goals and showing up fully for the people that I love and for the commitments that I make.

[00:02:51] I also believe in striving to live to my full potential and having very high standards for myself. I don’t like limiting myself and [00:03:00] being choosy with opportunities, and I kind of, I mentioned this before on the podcast, but I was someone who kind of prided myself on being the go-to friend for people.

[00:03:08] I knew I was capable of doing so much, and so I did. I literally felt like I could do it all . But when we live like this, we end up making unintentional sacrifices on things that do matter to us. We end up skipping on things like our health and I’m not just talking about skipping a workout from time to time.

[00:03:28] I’m also talking about not taking care of our mental and emotional health as well. And we also skip out on things like sleep and eating well for ourselves. So What I’ve realized is that lowering the bar on certain activities can be a compassionate and productive form of self care, and I want you to hear me say that.

[00:03:49] I’m gonna say it one more time. I’ve realized that lowering the bar on certain activities can be a compassionate and productive form [00:04:00] of self-care. One of the things my friends Sierra has mentioned time and again when we’re together, she says, You can lower the bar and still be awesome.

[00:04:09] And that’s totally true. It frees up energy for more important pursuits, like the freedom to do nothing if you want to, you can do nothing without feeling any guilt. , I promise you, you can do this. Guilt is optional. Learning how to live guilt free when you say no to something is something I teach inside of the burnout breakthrough.

[00:04:27] Just saying. If you wanna join me over there, but here are some of the ways that I’ve cut back on a few things. I wanna give you some specific examples so that you can see how this can work for you in your life.

[00:04:37] So the first thing that I’ve cut back on is fresh, plant based, three course meals.

[00:04:44] Some of you might know this. There was a time I was a recipe blogger. Well, back when we lived in Germany, I had the camera, I had the food, I had the lighting in my house that made it pretty easy for me to create recipes and blog about them . In my spare time, I loved reading [00:05:00] cookbooks and almost daily we’d have salad with dinner, I was trying new recipes, I was going to the farmer’s market all the time and talking about food with people a lot. I was, like I said, styling and photographing my food, and this was something that was really important to me. If you’ve listened to in the previous episodes of the podcast, you know that food is a super high priority, but even more important to me right now is how fast I can do this. I don’t wanna be spending an hour and a half or even an hour or even 30 minutes cooking a healthy dinner. So yes, health is still important to me.

[00:05:36] I don’t want you to misinterpret what I’m saying. But now a higher priority for me is how fast and how simple and how easy I do this. Those are higher priorities to me than cooking these lavish and photo worthy types of meals. So there are certain apps that make this possible.

[00:05:55] One of my very favorite apps to eat healthier in a short period of time It’s [00:06:00] an app called Five Sec Health, and it’s one of my favorite apps for cooking healthy and cooking quickly. There are also certain kinds of dinners that I gravitate towards. In the wintertime I gravitate towards soups. Fajitas is always a great option because all it takes is just a quick saute of some veggies and then pulling some things out of the fridge like salsa and plant-based yogurt and some Romaine lettuce really quick and maybe a tomato to go with it. So fajitas are super easy to do.

[00:06:27] curries are awesome. Instant pot recipes and I just generally look for recipes that have fewer ingredients. Occasionally we have people over and I make my dinners more elaborate , but I don’t do that very much anymore. Okay. The next thing that I wanna talk about as far as lowering the bar and still be awesome is your laundry. So it is not a priority for me to have every single person in my house have magazine worthy dresser drawers.

[00:06:57] That is not a priority for me. I do care that my [00:07:00] closet is clean, and I feel like I do this in several ways. I don’t have a lot of clothes. Because I don’t have a lot of clothes, I am able to do my laundry more frequently with it taking less time, cuz I don’t have a lot of things to fold every time I do a load of wash.

[00:07:15] And because I wash my clothes with my husband’s clothes, we usually have a full load in the washing machine so I’m not wasting water. But this might be why I love doing laundry, is because I just do my own laundry. Each one of my kids has their own basket, and from the time that they were five or six years old, they start doing their own clothes.

[00:07:33] And it only takes me a couple days to teach them how to do their own laundry. And then they’re off doing it by themselves. So I help them with it for a little while, and then they fully independent on doing their wash. So, like I mentioned, my husband and I share the same basket, so I will wash his clothes with mine to save on water and soap, but when I sort and put away my stuff, I don’t do his stuff the same way I do mine.

[00:07:57] I organize his clothes into piles, but I [00:08:00] don’t fold anything. I let him put his clothes away. And same with my kids, . I just let them put their stuff in their basket. They know how to run it through the washing machine and the dryer, and then they put their stuff away. Now, I have to tell you that my boys have a very interesting way of doing their clothes

[00:08:17] They wash their clothes just fine, but sorting and putting their clothes away is a challenge. And I let that go. This is part of me lowering the bar and still being awesome. If they want to wash their clothes and put their stuff clean into their basket. And then after finding things, they dump out their clean stuff all over their floor to find their favorite shirt or whatever, and that’s their way of doing.

[00:08:44] I don’t care about that . And I know some of you are like, What? ? Now I do have to tell you that once a week I make sure that their clothes are put away. So on a daily basis, I don’t care what the rooms look like, I hardly ever go in there. So I don’t really care [00:09:00] how they do their laundry. As long as they are wearing clean things and their bodies are clean and their hygiene is up to my standards. That’s what I care about. But if they’re pulling clean clothes off of the floor, I don’t really care about that. But once a week I tell them that they can’t hang out with friends or they can’t go out and do whatever it is they want to do until their stuff is in their drawers. And let me tell you, they get motivated to get it done. So once a week, I make sure that they’ve got their stuff in the drawers. But with my boys, they don’t take a lot of time folding things the way that I would do it, and that’s okay if their stuff is wrinkly coming out of their drawers.

[00:09:35] I honestly never notice. So it’s fine. It’s one of the ways that I lower the bar and I’m still awesome, . Okay. The next little tip that I wanna tell you is, Any time that you are taking on something, you want to be really clear about the time commitment. And so with this, you want to communicate to other people ahead of time how much time you have for a meeting or to volunteer for an [00:10:00] event.

[00:10:00] I’ve mentioned this before on the podcast, but I’m gonna say it again because this was such a valuable lesson that I learned. Just like you, I get a lot of ask to volunteer for my kids’ activities or events in the community from different organizations that I’m a part of, like I mentioned, kids sports or church or the rec center where I teach yoga or different service organizations or meetings or whatever it is.

[00:10:23] So if something is important to me, I need to decide how much time I want to spend doing that activity, and I need to decide ahead of time. And it’s not coming from a place of, well, I should, or feeling guilty about saying yes to something, but intentionally I want to support this activity. How much time do I realistically have?

[00:10:45] How much time do I want to devote to this thing? And then I share that information if necessary. So let me give you an example of this. I was asked once to organize once a month meetings for our women’s organization at church. [00:11:00] And I did this for a time for probably, it was probably less than a year, but I did this the same year that I was training for triathlons and I was figuring out how to prioritize my mental health, and we were also making a big move back to the States. the woman who had worked at this assignment before me, put on elaborate events.

[00:11:22] I remember they started at seven and they went past 10, and it got to a point where I would often opt out of the event all together because I just knew that I didn’t have three hours to be somewhere at night on a school night when I needed to be in bed by eight 30 or nine o’clock at night. So I knew that if I took over and I said yes to helping out, which I did, I had to get really clear on what it was I was willing to do, and I needed to communicate that clearly to the other people I would be working with who also worked with the woman who had done the job previously.

[00:11:57] So I decided that for me, in order for this [00:12:00] to work for my schedule, I needed to start at seven and I was going to be done At eight 30.

[00:12:06] That meant I was locking the building at eight 30 and getting into my car and driving home . At the time, our church building was like 30 minutes away from our house. Like I said, we were living in Europe at the time and it was just, it was quite a distance back home again. And so I knew that if I was home by nine, I could get in bed by nine 30 and be asleep by 10, which was still late for me at the time.

[00:12:29] But I wanted to help out with this event. It was something that was a priority to me, and so I was trying to figure out how to do this, and I figured, well, if I’m only staying up till 10, once a month, it should be okay. I also decided that there was not gonna be any dinner served, and this was something that was different from the woman who had this position before I did.

[00:12:49] So I knew that if there was gonna be any food, it would be snacks and it would need to be served by eight o’clock. So that we could be cleaned up by eight 30, and that meant that whatever lesson [00:13:00] or activity or thing that we were doing needed to be done by eight so that food could be served. People could visit for a minute and we could get cleaned up and done by eight 30.

[00:13:11] That is what I decided. That is what I communicated, and it took a minute for them to get used to me. I know it did. But that’s what I could commit to. And I, I told them, if this does not work for you, if you want to do it differently, if you have a different vision for what this is gonna look like, then you need to find somebody else to do it, cuz I’m telling you what I’m capable of doing in this position.

[00:13:33] And so eventually we worked out the kinks and we got it going and it was fine.

[00:13:37] Okay. Another way that I wanna tell you that I lower the bar in my life and I’m still awesome is when it comes to entertaining. So I used to entertain frequently, and when I say frequently, I mean once a week. Every weekend we’d have new people over for dinner.

[00:13:52] And I, at the time loved this. I love being able to get to know people, particularly people who had little kids that could be friends with my kids, [00:14:00] but I don’t do that anymore. , I just do this for holidays or bigger events, birthdays, those kinds of things. Because it was a lot of work and it was really draining for me to be pouring in so much energy into a weekend event where I needed my weekends to be more of my downtime. So when you are pouring a lot of energy into your family or a business or activities at church or community things, you want to intentionally set time aside where you’re not pouring energy into other people.

[00:14:33] You want to have that time for yourself. And I’m totally good with that now. As much as I loved getting to know people that way, it’s just not something that I wanna take on in this season of my life.

[00:14:44] All right. The last area that I wanna touch on that has to do with lowering the bar and still being awesome is with your hobbies. And I know for some of you, you don’t have any hobbies, , I wanna encourage you to have some hobbies, but this is the way that you can do this [00:15:00] with hobbies. Because before I was hesitant to take things on if I knew I couldn’t live up to this standard of perfection, whatever that looked like in my mind, and I’ve just given myself permission to let go of that standard and just use my hobbies to have fun in my life. So let me tell you how I do this. .

[00:15:22] Overall, you want to be selective about the things that you take on and when you are available to do them without any guilt associated with this. So two ways that I do this. I actually have several hobbies and I might actually do a podcast episode about hobbies because I feel like they’re really important for us as women to have some things I have some kind of hobby or something that we look forward to that is just our own. But here’s two that I have that I wanna talk about. So the first one is I play the violin. I’ve played the violin for 40 years. I can’t believe it’s been that long, but it has. I love playing the [00:16:00] violin. I took lessons all through my growing up years.

[00:16:03] Thank you mom and dad for that. now as a parent, I know what kind of sacrifice it takes as a mom or a dad to put your kids in music for all of that time. I also studied in college, it’s not what I got my degree in, but I took lessons throughout the time that I was in college. I’ve also taught lessons. So playing the violin has been a big part of my life and I get asked to play for things. And the truth is, I would love to play my violin in a symphony or for a seasonal gig that comes up like the Lamb of God at Easter. But I know what my life would look like if I committed to taking that on.

[00:16:40] So the way that I do this, the way that I lower the bar and still be awesome is I say yes to the one and done kind of events. So it might require one or two rehearsals on my part and then one performance, and then it’s done. Instead of a commitment like a season or a full year [00:17:00] of playing in an organization or in a group.

[00:17:03] So that is one of the ways that I still get to play my violin for things. I still get to participate in Christmas and other holidays where we c elebrate with that kind of music, but I’m not committing to a full on season. I’m not committing to multiple rehearsals or multiple gigs. All right. Another hobby that I have is I garden and I love to garden.

[00:17:25] There’s so many things that I love about gardening. I love to share my produce with my neighbors and my friends. I love the growth opportunity each season. I love the challenge of getting the watering and the fertilizing just right to grow amazing vegetables and flowers cuz that’s when I grow in my garden.

[00:17:41] I have beautiful garden boxes in my backyard. I have six. Four feet by 16 feet, foot boxes. They’re beautiful. My brother helped me build them and they’re amazing. I love to grow tomatoes and pumpkins and green beans and flowers for all the bees. I love tinkering with the sprinklers. I even love weeding. [00:18:00] I know my parents probably just fell out of their chairs hearing me say that, but I love weeding. For me it’s very meditative. I’ll even get the weeds out of the rocks and stuff around my yard cuz I just love it.

[00:18:09] I am very much amateur in my gardening. I. I mostly just do it to watch things grow. I love that. I remember my dad saying that when we had a garden as a kid, he said he used to love to grow zucchini, not because we love to eat it so much, it’s just, it was such a fun thing to watch grow. I feel like growing those types of squashes and vegetables in my garden helps me boost my ego a little bit

[00:18:32] So there’s many, many reasons why I love to have a garden, but this year, with Merrill gone, things got a little crazy out there. It was kind of a jungle out there in the back. We had a little bit of a wasp problem. So after I got stung, I got had a pretty bad allergic reaction to that sting. I wasn’t super interested in going out there as much as I have been in the past.

[00:18:53] And so this year it was more of just a joy for what it was. It didn’t [00:19:00] need to be professional. It didn’t need to be an amazing harvest. It didn’t need to look all magazine worthy for me to enjoy it. So I was okay with letting it be what it was this year, and that is one of the things that I want you guys thinking about when you are intentionally lowering the bar and letting it still be awesome.

[00:19:19] Okay, so I wanna know how you’re going to do this. How are you intentionally going to lower the bar in your life starting this week? What are you going to intentionally not care about so much, or that you’re gonna take off your plate altogether, or you’re going to delegate to your kids because you’re just choosing to not let it be as big of a priority for you as it’s been in the past/

[00:19:45] so I’d love to know. Now before I go, the last thing is, if this podcast episode has been helpful to you, I would love it if you pass it along to a friend, share it with a friend. Just let them know that you were thinking [00:20:00] about them when you were listening to it maybe you’ve had a conversation in the past, or maybe you know that they have really high standards for things and have a hard time letting go.

[00:20:10] So if you feel like this would be helpful to somebody. I would love it if you shared. All right, you guys have a beautiful rest of your week. We’ll catch you guys soon. Take care. Bye.