The first time I encountered Laura Vanderkam’s definition of core competencies, I was awestruck. “What do I do best, that other people cannot do nearly as well or do at all?” I clutched my little Kindle in hand, and read the lines over and over again. In the background played the measured, steady breathing of my sweet toddler son, asleep in the bed next to me. I let the question roll back and forth in my mind.
An Accidental Life
We had made some large-scale purposeful decisions such as joining in the sacrament of Holy Matrimony, trying to conceive, hiring me as a stay-at-home-mom. But the everyday life I was living kind of just happened. The flow of my day was dominated by the bankheads of a toddler schedule. Meals, diapers, games, and sleep.
What was I doing that no one else could? My gut answer: practically nothing. No one could raise my son or love my husband, but everything else?
That was survival. I want to thrive. I wanted to live a life of intention, of choice, of opening my eyes instead of sleepwalking. So I found my core competencies.
Your Core Competencies
My personal definition of a core competency is: Something that is meaningful and/or pleasurable for you and those you care about.
Things that no one else can do as well as you. Or that you would miss doing if someone else took over.
This allows tasks such as diaper changing, bathtub scrubbing, and ironing to remain in your wheelhouse. If anything, it elevates them. You will cultivate a greater sense of ownership over the necessary, everyday, unglamorous tasks. Caring for your home, and your loved ones is more vibrant when it is intentional.
Fill in the blanks below, with some of your day-to-day tasks.
- By no means would I miss _________, but no one else can do it.
- Conversely, other person could do _______, but I would miss doing it.
- If I stopped doing ________, would anything go wrong?
- If we paid someone else to do _________, it would upset me.
- In 20 years, I will look back and laugh that I was so worried about ________.
An Intentional Life
In the months since doing these exercises myself, I have reoriented my perspective on my days at home. I have redeemed the necessary grind, and brought my energy back to life. A sense of progress and achievement permeates my day.
My whole family, and even complete strangers, have benefitted from this upheaval. It’s true what they say: If mama isn’t happy, nobody is! Imagine how your day would change, if you valued your own efforts.
Like this post? You might also enjoy my review of 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think.