The Survivor’s Definition of Doing It All

This Week on the Today Show, Maria Shriver reported on Doing It All  and the toll it is taking on women.  In full disclosure, I didn’t see any segment in its entirety, but got the overview and plan to watch in full this weekend.  I did watch most of a segment highlighting a woman who went from living a high income life to bankruptcy as a result of her husband’s loss of employment and his illness.  I don’t believe she detailed his specific illness, but it got me thinking about what happens to a Doing It All woman, in our Do it All culture of superwomanhood when she suddenly has to add being breast cancer patient to her list.

It’s like a car wreck, you are speeding through life, perfunctorily going through the motions when you crash, turned upside down with your entire life flashing before you.  It can be some of the most life altering news when you hear the doctor deliver your diagnosis .  “You’ve got cancer”.  In addition to your already exhaustive to do list, you now have to add survive which has several actions of its own.  Doing It All must now be redefined after an analysis of everything that you are doing and why you are doing it.

Wherever you are in life, especially if you are in the midst of a survival journey, make a list of why you are doing it all.  Below are a few of mine, but insert your own.

  1. I’m doing it all to survive.
  2. I’m doing it all to be healthy.  (I try to run a few times a week and often tweet about #exercising4mylife because my focus and my goal is to be healthy and I’ll often “miss out” on something else just to get in my exercise.  Alignment.)
  3. I’m doing it all to have a wonderful quality of life
  4. I’m doing it all to live life to the fullest.
  5. And, I’m doing it all graciously accepting unconditional support from my small but powerful A team of family and close friends

When you analyze why you are doing it all, it will change what you are doing, who you are doing it all for, and who you are doing it all with.  And, “all” will take on a new meaning and encompass only the highest priority to dos.  If your life has passed before your eyes, doing it all should have a heavy dose of selfishness and point back to you.  This is not to say that you discount your family and friends because they are surely the fabric in the tapestry of your life that makes it rich and beautiful; but, you are the glue.

Keep your list short.  Keep it close and review it often to keep your priorities aligned and subtract all the rest.   There’s nothing quite like a diagnosis of a life threatening illness to make you quickly assess what are wasteful time busters and what are essential activities.  Doing It All will have a new definition and should yield more meaningful outcomes.

January 17, 2014

Melanie A. Nix – Triple negative breast cancer survivor.  Always striving to color outside of the lines when defining my new normal.


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