Over-Adulting Was Pushing Me Over the Edge

“Adulting” is a relatively hip term, it seems.  It emerged on the scene like a hot new concept. According to Urban Dictionary, as of 2016 it means “to carry out one or more of the duties and responsibilities expected of fully developed individuals (paying off that credit card debt, settling beef without blasting social media, etc.). Exclusively used by those who adult less than 50% of the time.”  Behaving responsibly like a grownup!  Fun! 

Um, yeah — I’ve been doing that since before I was old enough to drink legally, so as a now-middle-aged person I saw no need for this millennial invention in my personal vocabulary.  But this Spring, I noticed something serious: I’ve Been Over-Adulting. And that’s no fun at all. 

In February I wrote about 5 blocks that repeatedly interfere with women’s abilities to connect with and lead others from their Brilliance. Here’s #4:

You’d love to spend all your time using your Brilliance to achieve your purpose, but you have SO MUCH TO DO!!! Who has time for all the Brilliant, energizing, creative stuff when you’re a woman living in today’s society with 16 to-do lists the length of your arm?

Did I realize I was writing about me specifically? 

In April at the Polka Dot Powerhouse regional conference a speaker encouraged us to write all our roles/responsibilities on an actual (paper) plate.  Here’s the list I brainstormed in the five minutes allotted for the task, in no particular order:

  • Mom
  • Daughter
  • Sister/sister-in-law
  • Niece
  • Aunt
  • Ex-wife
  • Polka Dot Powerhouse member and Managing Director
  • Exerciser
  • Self-Carer
  • Connector
  • Money manager
  • Laundress
  • Reader
  • Cook
  • Medical advocate
  • Grocery shopper
  • Mediator
  • Business owner
  • Home owner
  • Blogger
  • Friend
  • Connect2 Corporation staff manager
  • Temple member
  • Eater
  • Relaxer
  • Coach
  • Coaching client
  • Driver
  • Citizen/ voter (it was election day in my town)
  • Diabetes Manager/pancreas
  • Anxiety Manager
  • Patient
  • Thought leader
  • Volunteer
  • Travel planner
  • Consumer
  • Registrar

This list is not comprehensive.  But it became too much for me.  I found myself spending the majority of my days in operations manager mode, juggling all the tasks and projects associated with my roles and responsibilities. 

Where are the joy and ease? I longed to go back to them.

Once I gave myself some much needed rest, I took a few major steps toward this goal:

  • Revisiting my own Brilliance Statement and Unique Definition of Success, updating them where needed

  • Asking my assistant to meet with me twice per week for delegation and debriefing. (She said yes! And it’s been super helpful, especially because it has reduced the amount of email between us.)

  • Limiting myself to one hour of administrative time per work day. Anything else that needs to get done goes to my assistant.

From all of this, I felt prepared to re-envision how I spend my professional time. And then clarity struck! 

In the next several weeks I will be announcing a radical reinvention of my work.  Stay tuned.


  1. Cara

    I am tired of adulting and am fully expecting my children to take care of me so I can rest and think of making some changes. It seems that the only thing I can put on my list is giant summer blob who is planning to stay in bed until she finds some vitality. Keep us posted on the news of your reinvention!

    • Debra

      I will keep you posted. In the meantime, go you! I realize now that I left some key pieces of my restoration out of the writing above. Here they are in case they can help you. 1) I added more self-care to my life than I thought I even deserved (eventually I accepted that I deserved it. 2) I went on a diet of a) not casually offering to help anyone with anything and b) saying no to all inbound requests for a few weeks. These elements were key to get me out of my OverAdulting exhaustion.

  2. Barbara Palefsky

    Excited to hear about it!

    • Debra

      Thanks, Barbara! I’m excited to share more! Will be “rebranding” over the next month and then I’ll make an announcement. Watch this space. 🙂