Editor’s note: Linda Formichelli was tired of the media telling women they couldn’t do it all. She decided she could and would—and wrote a book about it. “How to Do It All: The Revolutionary Plan to Create a Full, Meaningful Life — While Only Occasionally Wanting to Poke Your Eyes Out with a Sharpie (Renegade Writer Press)” publishes April 18. She gives RM readers a few tips if you want to do it all, too.
On New Year’s Eve 2015, I was journaling about the year and decided to make a list of everything I had done, seen and accomplished in the previous 12 months.
When I looked at the list, I couldn’t believe how much I had done—from traveling to five foreign countries with my family, to running two businesses and hosting three exchange students. There were over 40 items. And even weirder, we’re an average middle-class family…my husband and I both work, we have a young child, and we’re not rich.
Once I saw the list written out, I had the brainstorm to write a book detailing the process.
I especially wanted to address the cultural narrative that women are trying to do it all and burning themselves out in the process, and that they need to just relax and stop trying to be superwoman. The women’s media, especially, are always saying, “You poor woman, you’re so busy! Stop trying to do it all!”
My thought was, “I like doing it all!” And yes, at times I’m stressed out, but is that really such a bad thing? Is it better to lead a full, meaningful, creative life where you grow every year and you experience some stress or to lead a stress-free life but don’t do much of anything else? When you’re on your deathbed, which would you rather look back on? Which would make you feel prouder and more satisfied?
Create a Do-it-All plan
The book includes the most common “Do’s and Wants,” including traveling, writing, starting a business, volunteering and crossing a finish line. Here’s how to get started:
What did you do last year?
Make a list. You’ll be surprised at how much you accomplished, and it will give you the courage and desire to do more.
What do you really want to do this year?
Nix the shoulds. What would make your life rich, meaningful and happy? Think about it, and write it down.
Find your excuses.
Are you too tired? Don’t have enough money? Where is your time and money going? What can you divert? Maybe it’s the money from a Starbucks coffee every morning or the added cost of an upgraded cable package. Doing without frees up resources so you can do what you want.
On the “Do’s & Wants” list for 2016
“I’ve wanted to go to Alaska since I was 20 years old. I’ve been planning my trip for several months now, part of a milestone birthday celebration. We’re going fishing and flightseeing in Talkeetna. I can’t imagine anything better than landing on a glacier in Denali. And we’re spending time in Seward–cruising through the fjiords, kayaking and riding fat tire bikes. Traveling is a passion I try to find time for because getting away and having a different cultural experience is good for the body and the soul.”
— Mary-Ann Baldwin, Raleigh City Council Member
“I’ve always wanted to run a full marathon and decided the time was never right. I have run about two dozen half marathons since becoming a mother, but I always felt like the time to train for a marathon was never realistic in the midst of my chaotic schedule. So, this year is the year. I have a milestone birthday, and I plan to run my first full marathon in November!”
— Amanda Lamb, WRAL TV reporter, author