When it comes to figuring out what brings joy to your life (and what doesn’t), the key is to give a name to the things that matter most to you. The Lazy Genius Way author Kendra Adachi’s “name what matters” mantra can help you identify your self-care needs and restore balance to your mental health. Adachi stopped by The MomForce Podcast to share advice from her New York Times bestselling book, including tips on being an imperfect parent, finding connection in others and using her “magic question” to make everyday tasks easier.
What has failure taught you in your career?
I’m going to start with a story: I decided to impress my coworkers with a homemade breakfast, and I was like, “I'm going to make French toast casserole and it's going to be gooey and delicious.” Someone had made it for me a couple of weekends before, but my perfectionism kicked in and I didn’t think I needed to look up a recipe or ask my friend how he made it. I just put butter on Wonder Bread and stuck it in the oven.
I had never made French toast before. For anyone reading this, I did not pull it off. It was so disgusting. I do think this was the moment where I said to myself, “Oh wait, the result of this was my worst fear.” Not asking for help or saying, “I actually don't know how to do this,” turned out to be an utter failure, which is what I avoid at all costs. I think the trouble with perfectionism is that you don't often fail because you only try things that you're going to be good at. But when you do fail, it is catastrophic.
You often talk about the importance of the “magic question” — what is that question?
The magic question is: What can I do now to make something easier later? You can fill in the blank with whatever it is. For example: What can I do now to make dinner easier later tonight? You can make it really specific. You can “magic question” literally anything. I have “magic questioned” relationships, like: What can I do now to make connecting with a friend easier later? I'm going to put it in my calendar every two weeks to send her a message.
I think that it definitely applies to your own mental health, as well. Before you even ask the magic question, ask yourself what makes you feel like yourself again. If you're feeling off, that could be a number of things. It could be that you're not sleeping very well. It could be that there's a relationship that feels a little bit disconnected. It could be hormonal. But I think that whenever you feel off-center, you need a way to get back to centering yourself. The Lazy Genius definition of self-care is do whatever you need to do to make you feel like yourself again.
You talk about “naming what matters” — what does that mean?
It can be easy for things that don’t really matter to cloud what does really matter. At the end of the day, what really matters is connection. Connection with the person in front of us, connection with ourselves. We can have connections with our community, with our neighbors, with our neighborhood and with our country. There are so many ways that we can connect. Life is all about that. We're connective people and that's how we're wired. Always lead with connection.