Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Make time? For what? Well there are many things for which we should make time for, grocery shopping, cooking dinner, cleaning the house, taking the kids to what ever activity they have, work, you get the idea! Did you notice that none of these things say, me time? What!?!? Make time for ME?? That’s ludicrous, selfish, there’s no time for that! I hear this all too often and I personally am 100% guilty of saying these things too, but it is vital to our sustainability and our ability to keep on giving to those we love and care about. I have been on a journey, a sort of personal crusade to make time for myself and what I am coming to find is that when I make time for myself, the time for everyone and everything else just seems to fall into place. I am becoming more productive, a better wife, a better sister, aunt, daughter and granddaughter. I am happier, healthier and my stress level has at least decreased in half.
Alarm rings, 6:00am, I hit snooze, I know that I have to be to work at 7:30 and I know I am pushing the envelope but, I’m beat. I didn’t get home the night before from work til 9:00pm and my day had started at 7:30AM same as this particular morning. 9:00 pm is not all that late, but after a long day, making time to stay up and watch TV with my husband, seemed like the only fair thing to do, so bed didn’t come til 11:00pm and by the time I settled my mind and actually relaxed to sleep it was close to 12:30 am. As I ran out the door at 7:00am I thought to myself, here we go…again.
I was riding the wave in an expansive sea of things to do! Big ups and low lows. I felt like I was running a rat race in a hamster wheel. The more I went the smaller and smaller the sea became, the faster the wheel spun, until I was riding those same waves in a fish bowl and unable to keep pace with the wheel. I lost track of the days. The days became weeks and the weeks became months I was just going and going not paying attention to how small my world become and how stifled and miserable I was. I was living a lie really, faking niceness, forcing time into my day to feel like I was giving to others and prying a smile from my lips to try and remember to be polite.
I was getting ugly, my attitude was changing. I snapped easily and saw the worst in everything and everyone . The doubts started creeping in and I was pretty much at a point where I was ready to throw in the towel. I approached my business partner with this news explaining that I could not do it any more, I was done, I was wiped out. I just want a job, get paid for my 8 hrs and just be done til the next day. This running a business thing is tapping me out. She listened and thought about what I said, then looked at me and said you need a vacation, you need to step back and away, you need to take control of your schedule. I looked at her with disbelief, really that was her advice? Take a vacation…who has time for that? If I am not here keeping the doors open who will? She looked at me like I had ten heads. Her response was, “What about me? I am your business partner, what do you think I do here?” Oops, she was right, I kind of forgot that little bit. I felt like jerk, had I stooped that far that I could not even remember to lean on my business partner for help? I was still not done yet because she had then said I needed to take control of my schedule. What does that mean? She sat me down in front of the calendar, I was working 7 days a week 12 hours a days. I was letting everyone else run my schedule I was a door mat for anyone and everyone.
My thought process was that it was my duty to be where ever I was needed when ever I was needed. That mentality was wearing on me and she was seeing it. She then asked me what I tell my clients about taking care of themselves. Yeah what about it? They take time out to workout with you, right? They take vacations right? They spend time with their loved ones right? Yes to all three questions. She then reminded that people will appreciate me more if I too take care of myself and live the life I preach about. Okay, I had no argument to come back with and I hate when I am wrong! I was still disgruntled at being wrong but she continued with her advice. She then proceeded to hand me a pencil…”block off when you will not be here, take time off. ” So I sat there and created the schedule I wanted to see. I felt weird giving myself time. I felt guilty for not making myself available…
When I got home, my husband said, you need to plan for the first week in July, we are going out of town to visit my family. GULP… panic set in, I didn’t plan for a vacation, it was bad enough that I was backing off time from being at the studio, that was a hard pill to swallow on its own now I have to deal with this news.
Okay, I will let my business partner know and I’ll plan on it was my response, but my brain wanted to shout absolutely not, go alone! Back at work the next morning I brought the news to my business partner, she was ecstatic so happy for me. I sat there disgruntled because I was losing control and everyone was happy and giddy for me.
The vacation was three weeks away, so that helped me relax a bit as I thought “oh I have lots of time!” Three weeks came sooner than later and the Friday before I left came and went even faster. As I was boarding the plane, I knew there was no turning back, I HAD to trust that my business partner was going to take care of things, and I had to let go. The first two days of the trip were hard for me, I was constantly checking the email, texting my business partner and fretting about possible missed calls, missed emails, unanswerable questions. Finally, I was able to slowly let go after I talked on the phone with my business partner. She was so calm and easy going. Her ease about the past few days was reassuring and finally I was able to let go and actually enjoy the vacation.
When I came home, I had a whole new perspective on my outlook for my personal life, my business life and the well being of the business in general. My world had reopened. Having spent time with my husband, real quality time, I came to appreciate him and our marriage more than before. We took walks together, had real conversations and we were able to just be husband and wife. The schedule that I made for myself, suddenly became a reality, I had a day to sleep in, I had a day to stay home, visit my sister & grandma. I was REALLY truly being a good sister and granddaughter because the time I spent was quality, unrushed time, my time. No longer was I feeling guilty that I was being fake and forced to do these things.
My clients molded to my schedule and the more I stuck to it, the more valid and accepted it became. This much needed change, recharged me, it put me back in control on a positive note. Rather than the negative control that closed my doors and narrowed my circle, this positive control opened me up. It brought me a sense of appreciation for all the things I could do. It widened my circle and expanse. This time however, the expanse was as wide as it was, was not has wavy and turbulent, it was calm and the waves were small and manageable. I could see as far as the eyes could see and beyond. My resentment for my business decisions diminished and I was finding that I was more productive and felt more fulfilled at the end of the day rather than drained.
It is a great feeling and something that I wanted to share with all of you and the people you know. I always preached how important it was to make the time, but I never really lived it. I thought I was, because I talked about it so much, but the fact of the matter was, I wasn’t. I am going to offer you the same bits of advice that I was given. Go to your calendar and schedule “me time.” It does not have to be a whole day maybe 15 minutes maybe 2 hrs whatever works for you. During this time phone goes way, computer gets shut off, and you do something that you have always wanted to do. Next look at your schedule and plan a vacation or a staycation, 5-7 days where you get to spend time, real quality time with your family and friends. We all get vacation time, its part of almost every benefits package if you work a traditional job, and if like me, and you own your own business, take it anyways and get someone you trust to run things while you are away. Finally find ways to be in control that are positive. If you have the weekends free, you have a choice to either spend it doing work or getting a cup of coffee with a friend. The work will always be there for you when you get back, take positive control and spend time with your friend. It will refresh your mind and give you a new perspective on what you are working on in the long run!
On your first attempt at this, you will find, as I stated in the beginning, that it will be hard, you will feel agitated, disgruntled and scared. I did! The what if’s will start flooding your brain and it may seem easier to just keep things at status quo. I wanted to! However, I urge you to fight past these feelings, that is all they are, feelings. If you can do that, actually, when you do just that, you are going to see things so much clearer. I did! Your fish bowl will become a beautiful calm sea and your hamster wheel will slow down to a manageable pace. Mine did! Truly, you will be happier and be able to live life how it was meant, to the fullest!!
Written by Julie S.