Truth is, I’m not a fan of the word “empowered.” But desperate times call for desperate measures. And these, working daughters, are desperate times. So know this: there are things you can do to feel empowered in 2017 and the first is to acknowledge and accept your current situation.
Caregiving can make even the strongest among us feel disempowered at times. It is hard to watch people we care for age, change, suffer, require help. And working (for pay) while caregiving adds a whole other layer of difficulties. We find ourselves too often forced to choose between caring for our parent or showing up for work. What kind of choice is that? We know we should take better care of ourselves, but we can’t find a path to wellness when we’re juggling someone else’s needs with our obligations. And then, there’s the world. Many summed up 2016 as a dumpster fire – between the gun violence, the global acts of terrorism, the nasty political rhetoric, blatant misogyny, and racism on display throughout the election.
Now 2017 is looking to be a challenge too. A new administration means new policies and we’re not sure who will benefit. Medicare as we know it is in play between Speaker Ryan, who is calling for reform, and President-elect Trump, who has promised to protect it but isn’t known for keeping promises. We heard virtually no discussion about supporting caregivers during the election so we can’t hold our breath for caregiver tax credits, respite support, or affordable eldercare, but despite, what happens in the world around us, we can take steps to feel more in control!
8 Things You Can Do To Feel Empowered In 2017
- Tell a different story. The stories we tell ourselves matter. They have massive impact on how we perceive the world. So tell a better story and cast yourself as the heroine. For example, if you shoulder all of the responsibility for your elderly parents and your siblings don’t help out, you can choose a victim’s story: “I have to do everything.” Or you can choose a heroine’s story: “I am strong enough to shoulder all of this responsibility,” and “I am lucky to be of great service to my family.” It’s your choice.
- Get your house in order. One of the tasks that often falls to a caregiver is sorting through someone else’s stuff. We dig through their financial papers and bank statements so we can figure out how to pay for medical services, housing, even funerals. We sort through their material possessions figuring out what to keep, what to share, what to donate, and what to toss. We know the weight of being an arbiter of someone else’s life. You have the wisdom of witnessing this and you have the power to sort out your own life by making a plan now for your future.
- Get your finances in order. Along those same lines, get your financial accounts in order – not just your retirement planning (although that is key!), but your everyday expenses too. Create a budget and follow it. You’ll find it’s freeing, not constraining, to live within your means.
- Caregiver-proof your career. Here’s one thing you can count on as a working daughter: there will be some type of crisis – maybe minor, maybe big – that will affect your ability to work at some point during the year. So plan ahead! Always copy a team member on emails. Make sure important documents are easy to find on the server and accessible to anyone who might need them. Build your network and manage up.
- Do something healthy everyday. Surely you can do just one healthy thing everyday. No, no, that wasn’t a question.
Take a walk. Schedule your mammogram or your dental cleaning. Meditate. Eat a great breakfast. Drink lots of water. You can do this.
- Be of service to someone else. There is no better way to feel competent and useful than to help someone else. Seek opportunities to volunteer and assist others in need. Is your schedule too busy due to caregiving to take on another assignment? Then go back to the first item on this list make sure the story you’re telling yourself about your caregiving responsibilities is a powerful one; one of service.
- Practice gratitude. Set a timer every morning (all smartphones have one) for just 60 seconds and rattle off everything you can think of to be grateful for. Your health. Your paycheck. Season 6 of Scandal. The color yellow. There is plenty of good in the world. Remind yourself of that daily.
- Put your Congressperson and Senator on speed dial. If ever there was a time to use your voice, this is it. Don’t tell me you don’t have time for politics. Do you have time to sort through Veteran’s benefits and Medicare parts and heath insurance paperwork? You have 5 minutes to let your opinions be heard by the people who represent you on the issues that impact you and your family. It does make a difference. You can find their phone numbers HERE.
The ultimate way to feel empowered in 2017? Control what you can control. And that is yourself.
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