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How I Finally Made Space for My Big Goals


I’m not all that big on New Year’s resolutions, but I do like to chase big goals. At the beginning of 2019, I decided this was the year I would make some real progress on my biggest personal goal: running a marathon in all 50 states. I know that might sound a bit crazy if you’re not into running (or maybe even more so if you are into running), so let me explain. 

Running is an important part of my life. Not only is it my exercise, it’s my private thinking time, my listening-to-music time, my anti-anxiety medication, and my stress release valve. When I’m running regularly, I’m happier: I eat better, sleep better, and do better work. I’m a better parent and a better partner to my husband. (He’s quick to remind me of this when I haven’t been out for a run in a few days 😄.) 

But even though I love running and know what an important function it plays in my life, it’s still easy to find an excuse not to do it. A few favorites include, “I have too much going on at home or work,” “it’s soooo dark in the morning,” “it’s too cold/ too hot/ too rainy/ too snowy,” "the kids woke me up in the middle of the night,” etcetera, etcetera. 

In these moments I come back to my big goal. As long as I can see how every training run adds up to another milestone on the path to the 50 states goal, I will find a way to make it happen, even though it’s pretty much never the path of least resistance.

However, there was a time when chasing this goal truly felt impossible. When my second child was born back in 2016, all hell broke loose. 

My husband and I had been holding it together with one two-year-old daughter, but adding a newborn to the mix catapulted us to a new level of chaos. With both of us working, caring for the kids and just trying to take care of the basic operations of our lives, we ended up with maybe an hour of “free” time per night, which I typically spent pumping breastmilk and folding laundry in front of the TV. We were constantly sick. 

We were drowning, and I was in too deep to even see how bad it was.

I’d love to say that that’s when I made a New Year’s resolution to get more help, but it went down more like this: the wonderful women of Pepperlane saw what I was going through and introduced me to Pepperlane business owners who could help us claw back some of our precious free time. 

We started by hiring a house cleaner so our rugs were no longer crunchy underfoot. Next came weekly meal prep service, and finally we hired a household helper to come in a few hours per week to fold laundry, tidy up, prep lunches, and take care of things like scheduling household maintenance. Suddenly we had more time to be truly present with our kids (and each other) on weekdays, and our weekends weren’t filled with chores. 

The best part about hiring Pepperlane business owners is that I know I can feel comfortable trusting them in my home. All three of the women we hired to support our family are part of the Pepperlane community, and they each have families of their own. They understand what it takes to run both a business and a household, and they respect the trust we’ve placed in them.    

I’ll admit that I held out for quite a while because I had a hard time justifying getting help. Neither my husband nor I had had this kind of help in our homes growing up. I fully appreciate that not every family is in a position to pay for help, particularly with the very high cost of childcare. Also, I was just scared: what if I invested what precious little energy I had in finding help and it didn’t work? 

But then I came to realize three things that freed me from this mess of guilt and fear: 

  1. Nobody benefits from us working ourselves to exhaustion. Not us, not our kids, not our work.

  2. Every minute I was spending on tasks I could afford to outsource was a minute I wasn’t spending doing things I cared about like enjoying quality time with my family and friends, taking care of myself, doing impactful work.

  3. By hiring help from mom-owned businesses on Pepperlane, we’re helping other families make it all work too. Supporting the Mom Economy allows more moms to earn income on their own terms, which benefits everyone. 

The most surprising thing about having household help is that it’s like compound interest: the benefits just keep getting bigger over time. As our kids got older, and we started sleeping regularly again, we moved past “survival mode”. I started to feel like myself again — an adult woman with free will and big goals — instead of a robot completing an endless task list. I could start running again. 

Flash forward to 2019: I was able to do something I wouldn’t have dreamed possible just a few years earlier. I took a huge swing at my big goal, and I finished seven marathons in one year. I’m so proud to be pushing the limits of my athletic potential, and I’m still sort of amazed that I pulled it off. But I can tell you for certain that it would not have been possible without a lot of help.     

As we look ahead to 2020, I wish you all the best of luck and success in keeping your New Year’s resolutions and/or chasing your big goals. And if you need to free up some time in pursuit of those goals, please consider this article your permission slip to go get that help!   

Looking for help to get back to your own goals? Check out the Pepperlane Marketplace for everything from home help to meal prep. 

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Written by Jess Petersen

Jess is a mom of two, an avid runner, and a tech nerd. She's spent her career building products at Boston startups like Carbonite (NASDAQ: CARB) and Hopper from the very earliest stages into successful companies with millions of users. Sharon talked her into starting Pepperlane when she was 6 months pregnant with her second baby. What could possibly go wrong?