A few days ago, I let you know that we’re changing the name of the Working Parent Resource to The Argenal Institute. If you missed that post, you can learn more here. A lot has changed since we started the Working Parent Resource four years ago, and it’s time our name reflected our expanded purpose.
The mission of The Argenal Institute is to eradicate the burnout epidemic that’s crushing working parents, so they can finally start enjoying these precious years of their life.
This is a big goal, and something that we’re currently failing at around the world (the World Health Organization just classified burnout as a medical condition… this problem is getting worse, not better). There are a lot of resources out there aimed at relieving the pressure and stress working parents feel day in and day out. Meditation, mindfulness, self-care strategies, sleep health, productivity hacks, time saving tips…. we’re inundated with great ideas. And nothing has worked so far.
The question is, why?
After twenty years in the field of personal development and project management, and after six years specializing in this specific stage of life (juggling a thriving career with a young family), I’ve learned a lot. My goal now is not just to share what I’ve learned. But also to distill what I’ve learned down into a new approach to working parenthood that will create long-term change for struggling parents.
Today I’m excited to announce our new approach to working parenthood: The Whole SELF Lifestyle™.
The Whole SELF Lifestyle™ is a philosophy that addresses the big life questions working parents face, such as…
- Who am I now that I’m a parent?
- How can I recover the parts of myself I feel like I’ve lost?
- How can I enjoy this journey called parenthood, and look back with fond memories rather than regrets?
We spend a lot of time talking about procedure as working parents, and not a lot of time focusing on the experience of working parenthood. We’re in survival mode, and desperate for some immediate relief. So we buy into the false promises of the quick fix.
The truth is, there’s no quick fix to building a fulfilling life as a working parent. It’s a lifestyle that requires a shift in how you approach the everyday moments. It requires stepping back for long enough to get a clear sense of the bigger picture of your life, before diving in to make changes on the micro level. But when you’re in survival mode, it can be hard to escape the burnout cycle long enough to figure out which changes to make. So you grasp at the latest life hack, which simply doesn’t solve the problem.
That’s where The Whole SELF Lifestyle™ comes in.
The Whole SELF Lifestyle™ – our philosophy – is broken down into three parts:
Your External World
As working parents, we’re juggling constant demands and pressure from the outside world. Being in reaction mode against all of these different areas of our lives (I call them “systems”) can make us feel scattered, stretched thin, depleted, and resentful. I often hear working parents using these phrases to describe their experience trying to stay on top of everything: I don’t have enough time. Balance isn’t possible. I never have enough energy. I’m drowning. I can’t keep up. I’m failing at everything. My to-do list is a mile long. I’m crazy-busy. I’ll take care of myself when things slow down. Many of the obligations we’re dealing with really are important. We can’t just ignore them. But others could potentially be put on the back burner for a while. Until you take the time to evaluate everything that’s coming at you from the outside world, it’ll be hard to make informed decisions about which areas to focus on in each moment. I help working parents integrate all of the different areas of their lives into one functioning whole so they are the ones in control of their lives, and life isn’t pushing them around anymore.
Your Internal World
Becoming a parent has a way of shattering everything we thought we knew about ourselves. Our identity goes through a transformation, a deepening. We let go of old parts of ourselves (also called “systems”). We take on new roles in our relationships and our lives. We start to understand ourselves in different ways. We’re faced with all sorts of new circumstances, which require new skills and perspectives to work through. We try to integrate who we used to be with who we are becoming. But so many working parents are too busy to really explore this shifting identity in any useful way. Our sense of self is constantly changing depending on what we do, and isn’t understood deeply enough to guide our choices, behavior or beliefs. When we’re not clear about our inside world, we becoming increasingly persuaded by outside influences. We rely on experts and “gurus” and opinions of friends and family. This leads to losing trust to do what’s best for ourselves, our families, and our future. We’re living from the outside in, which is backwards. I often hear working parents use the phrases: I don’t know who I am anymore. I’ve lost myself. I miss who I used to be. I don’t know what to do. I feel so guilty. I’m unhappy. There’s got to be more to life than this. When this happens, it’s easy to find ourselves living out other people’s agendas and values, rather than our own. This is what makes life as a working parent feel like a grind, like an endless loop of non-stop responsibilities. I help working parents go through a process of self-discovery that honors the different parts of who they are so they can approach every situation they encounter with a solid sense of SELF, and the peace of mind that the choices they make are what’s right for them.
Blending Your External and Internal World
Creating a fulfilling life is not a destination. It’s not an outcome. It’s not something to achieve. It’s a practice. It’s an ongoing discipline. It’s a way of being in the world. It will fluctuate. Some days we’ll be better at it than others. But as long as we get clear about who we really are, and keep our intentions in the front of our mind, all of the demands of our daily lives won’t pull us off track as easily. And when we do get pulled off track, we can course-correct quickly. The Whole SELF Lifestyle™ is a way of exploring our old, unconscious patterns of behavior, understanding them on a deeper level, and making healthier choices going forward. It’s a way to up-level the baseline of our thoughts, beliefs, perspectives, choices, actions, behaviors, and experiences. Over time, we gradually improve both our life both internally and externally. I help working parents replace the constant searching for answers outside of themselves, with a reliable and repeatable framework that will support them in discovering the right answers, for them, in this season of their lives from within so they can finally enjoy these precious years.
This is the philosophy that drives our ambitious goal to defeat burnout for working parents so they can finally start enjoying these precious years of their lives. But there’s a lot more to it than just a philosophy.
We use the acronym S.E.L.F. to break down this philosophy into practice (the Whole SELF Lifestyle™ Method). In my next post, I’ll dive into how overwhelmed, busy working parents can actually integrate this philosophy into the experience of their daily lives in a way that’s sustainable.