On Monday, Oct. 14, 2013, Beth Greenfield of Yahoo! Shine wrote an article entitled, “Hot Mom Defends Herself Against Facebook Haters”. The article was about Maria Kang, a 32-year-old mom, who posted a Facebook photo of herself with her three young boys, while wearing a sports bra-and-micro shorts outfit that highlighted her amazingly fit physique. The picture itself is an attention-grabber — but what apparently made it controversial was the caption above the picture: “What’s Your Excuse?”
Ms. Kang has received over 12,000 comments about that picture. While many have been supportive, others have been negative and offensive. Ms. Kang seems to understand why some people have reacted so defensively. The article quoted her as saying, “I think people struggle with their weight. When you add on being a mother – and the pressures we face to have it all and be everything, including fit – the expectations are so high.”
In response to all the negative comments, Ms. Kang posted a “non-apology”, stating, “The first step in owning your life, your body, and your destiny is to OWN the thoughts that come out of your own head.”
I agree with Ms. Kang that it is important to accept our thoughts as our own. To take it a couple steps further, our thoughts dictate our feelings, and our feelings dictate our actions. If we think good thoughts about ourselves, then we will feel good about ourselves, and then our actions will support our feeling good about ourselves. If we are already okay with who we are, how we look, and how we are living our lives (even when dealing with an illness or disability), then we don’t need to make any excuses for how we choose to live our life — and we won’t feel a need to judge others on how they choose to live their lives. While I admire people who can and do maintain their washboard abs, I personally am not willing to make all the necessary sacrifices to have those abs. So I feel no need to make any excuses for my non-washboard abs. I just feel grateful that I am healthy overall.
Since we are each only one person, and we each have only 24 hours in a day, we inevitably must give up some things in order to obtain other things — that are more important to us. Even Ms. Kang admits that she has to give up watching TV, sleeping in, and playing on her iPhone, in order to fit in her daily workout schedule. She also admits that she gets a lot of help from her husband.
The bottom line is that none of us can have it all or do it all — but we CAN do the following:
1. Set our “Top Three” life goals
In his book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, Stephen R. Covey says that we should “begin with the end in mind”. In other words, when we reach the end of our life, what would we want to have accomplished during our lifetime? When we figure out how we want to answer this question, we can figure out our “Top Three” life goals. For me, one of my life goals is to maintain close family ties.
2. Set our “Top Three” daily life priorities
Each of our daily life priorities should directly address one of our “Top Three” life goals. For example, since having close family ties is one of my life goals, I make sure that I carve out time for my family every day. If our daily priorities do not directly address our life goals, we either need to change our priorities, or change our life goals.
3. Set our daily activities to support our daily life priorities
Each of our daily activities should directly address one of our “Top Three” daily life priorities. For example, since making time for my family is one of my priorities, I set my daily schedule so that I can take my son to and from school, attend his school functions, and spend dinnertime with him. If our daily activities do not directly address our life priorities, we either need to change our activities, or change our priorities (which could then lead to a change in our life goals).
Our life goals will tend to change, as we go through each stage and phase of our life. This is why it is so important to regularly assess whether the life goals we have set for ourselves continue to be appropriate and important to us as time goes on. When we design our lives “beginning with the end in mind”, we will continually live the happy and personally fulfilling life that we are meant to live.
There may be times in your life when you find it difficult to figure out your life goals or priorities. That is when it could be helpful to speak with a licensed family counselor, who can help you design the life that YOU want to live.