Walking the streets of Manhattan on that sunny morning and here I see what I cannot unsee, alas…
That t-shirt again…”I am done adulting”…
3 times in less than a week, so naturally, it gets me thinking, what does that mean?. To stop adulting? Throw a tantrum? Eat until we’re sick? Not paying the credit card because it’s a ‘gift’ of extra money from our altruistic bank?.
I am puzzled and troubled. Mainly because, I, too, find myself every now and then longing for a carefree, zero responsibility life.
Am I that immature or just picking up on a current trend? As a society, do we still care about anything? Is it so terrible to take responsibility for our own actions?.
Or, perhaps, are we just overwhelmed with life’s perceived obligations?
A few minutes spent at a park nearby and I can understand the attraction of wanting to be a kid again. I just look around and see how much fun they have jumping into muddy puddles, not a care on earth, whether this would mess up their makeup or wrinkle their custom-made suit.
Fair enough. We all need a fair bit of letting go and letting off some steam these days.
The constant self-inflicted reminder of everything that is wrong in the world, the increased demands for productivity at work, multi-tasking, family duties and the pressure of finding a meaning to all of the above.
And at a closer look, mostly self-inflicted.
How many of us take on responsibilities that are not ours, and end up forgetting our own priorities?. Some people have that innate need to nurture and control everything and everyone around them. They position themselves as the surrogate parent for their spouse, their colleagues or their needy friends. Is that reasonable?
What would happen if we decided to parent less? And to do that, shouldn’t we, actually, be adulting ourselves a tad more, and care more about what’s important for us?
Why Parenting Others Sucks (Your Energy, Your Motivation, Your Joy…)
Yes it does. Being a helicopter boss is draining for the people around you.
Being the over-bearing friend that has all the answers but never the right ones for her friends is a pain to deal with.
And do I need to remind you that your spouse is that, a partner, and unless that’s what you decided together, they don’t need a mommy or a daddy; nature gave them what they needed, thank you very much!.
So let me first explain how it feels to be on the other side of the parenting relationship and how this is not helping your cause (i.e. having a life).
The curse of the helicopter you…
Do you see yourself in this situation?
You are a manager of a team with multiple responsibilities, including doing your job coordinating with other teams, meeting deadlines, managing your own managers, and of course, managing your own staff. Needless to say, you are swamped.
Now a new project comes along that requires your full attention; common sense means delegating away part of what you are doing.
Yet – here is a case of control freakism at its best – you, a senior manager, continue doing part of your associates’ tasks because no one else than you can do it as well.
Granted, I will never dispute that. And granted too, it can be a real pain when you have to go and re-correct the whole thing, what a waste of time, might as well do it yourself, right?
True…but very dangerous…
How does parenting at work hurt you?
First because very frankly, as a team leader, you are way too much paid to do a task you moved on from some time ago.
Second, because you are also hurting your relationship with your junior team. When you are doing their jobs, you are taking away their learning part of it.
And more importantly, you are showing them that you don’t trust them.
So don’t be surprised if they cannot trust you in turn. You just showed them you don’t have their backs, as you are not willing to spend some of your time educating them and mentoring them.
Lastly, you are hurting your own career. By not showing your managerial skills, to start with.
And then by not freeing up your time for more leadership projects.
With Your Friends
This behavior can also translate in your friendships in a more sneaky way: the know-it-all friend.
We all have one of those ‘helpful’ friends, or maybe you are one of those? (yours truly, is, I confess).
That friend that is always willing to help and offer solicited and more often than not, unsolicited feedback.
It’s painful to be on the receiving end of these when the only real thing they need at that time is a friendly ear.
That one that listens without replying with a solution.
That one that lets them whine and rant just for the sake of it and because, god!, it feels so good sometimes to complain and get it out of one’s system.
And truly, it is annoying when you have someone who doesn’t allow it. They so much want to save you, that, instead, they leave you empty and angrier.
And it is likely, this is the last time that friend spill their heart and tears to you.
How does parenting your friends hurt you?
I get it! It comes from a good place and generous intentions.
You have been there. You want to help. It’s great and I am certain your friends appreciate your presence and your loyalty.
And sometimes, they just want your presence. Not the super wonder woman who lived it all and has a solution for every minor and major drama in life.
When you volunteer your help without being asked, you are taking away from your friend the lessons coming from the experience (yes, same when you don’t delegate at work);
More painful for you, you are placing yourself as responsible for their wellbeing and happiness.
Not your job, not your role, not your responsibility.
Do you really need to take on that extra task in your curriculum (why? Are you that bored?)? What would happen if you let your friend save herself from herself, without your overbearing help?
Do you have that belief that if you were not needed, it would mean you are not loved anymore? More on that later…
Mainly here, with your partner. Do you ask them to do something at home and then re-do it yourself because it wasn’t done to your liking? so you feel angry, bitter and resentful because they cannot help you?
Guess what?…case of parenting again…
How does parenting at home hurt you?
Do you freak out if they don’t empty the dishwasher immediately and the way you wanted it?
Chances are, they’d rather deal with the unspoken pain of you feeling resentful, than 1/doing a chore they are not particularly happy to do and, cherry on the cake, 2/dealing with the aforementioned unspoken pain of your frustration.
And by the way, the example of the power war of the dishwasher is not a gender-specific behavior. Some gents have a very specific system on how to upload and empty said appliance,
What would happen if you accepted that others are willing to help you and do what you want, just not exactly the way you wanted?
There you have a choice: either you do it yourself and accept that it’s costing you a time that could be dedicated somewhere else; example, having fun doing something you really enjoy;
Or, that the whole point is to get it done, period. It might not be 100% perfect, but more than good enough and everyone can move on.
De-parenting your behavior is nothing more than letting go of that impulse of over-controlling others; are you ready for a new way?
Let’s chat adulting yourself….nope, nope, nothing scary there, just see it for what it is: adulting yourself can be the next step of creating a life, that you and you only, are responsible for.
Meet Adulting, Your Friend with Many Benefits
So now that we went at length through the pains of you embodying Atlas, the Greek Titan that carried the whole globe on his shoulders, let’s examine what your new found freedom can look like, when you decide you are a grown up and only responsible for yourself and your own actions.
As you will see, once you commit to taking a step back and letting others breathe and live their lives, things will get easier for you.
No need to be constantly monitoring others and yourself at once.
Just commit to doing your best, that’s all.
Delegating at work = showing who’s the boss (in a leadership way…)
Earlier in this post, I touched base on the power in empowering others (I admit, I am not a real fan of that word, but here it makes sense).
Do you want to be a team leader? Act like one: delegate, teach, mentor and elevate others.
You are not responsible for anyone else’s happiness but yours
Easy enough and self-explanatory.
Spending your time telling others what they should do, is, to begin with, draining. It also means that if things don’t work out the way they wanted; guess who’s to blame? Yep, you…might not be that dandy for the future of your relationships.
And as infuriating as it feels to see people you care about sabotaging themselves, you need to repeat after me: it’s not my job to save people from themselves.
You’ll thank me later, when you will see your friendships coming together from a place of support and help. Not because there is a need for a crutch.
Say hello to real partnerships at home
Call it a new era at home. No more arguing who should be doing what, and certainly not how.
Let each member of the household be responsible for their own commitments. That’s what life is about. Your partner will have a sigh of relief; they’ll thank you for allowing everyone to take their place at home.
Your home is back to being your sanctuary, not the second job after work. Imagine what it looks like. A place of love and caring and sharing, no bickering!
How does all that sound to you? Can you let go of that desire to control everything and everyone?
Is it a yes? Welcome the new version of you, responsible for yourself and yourself only.
Here is a little tip: every time you catch yourself telling others how they should do what they do, see the reason behind your behavior. Then ask yourself, what you can do to take a step back?