Do you feel like you have time and energy for what matters most to you?
We’re under so much pressure to be there for people, and to fit it all in. Sometimes others are putting the pressure on, and sometimes we do it to ourselves. Regardless of where it’s coming from, I’m calling a time-out.
If you find yourself cancelling the plans that are meant to fill you up (like your workouts, time with friends, naps, etc), while downing your fourth cup of coffee in the hopes that it’ll carry you through the end of the day, take these steps to reclaim your time and energy:
1) Get curious about where you have more flexibility available than you’ve been allowing yourself.
Do you have some vacation days you could take? Would the sky fall if you didn’t answer that email at midnight, and instead waited until 9am tomorrow? Do you have to drive 3 hours to visit your in-laws, or might they be able to meet for lunch somewhere in between? Did someone offer to lend a hand with something, but you turned them down?
When we’re stressed out, we stop considering alternatives. We do our best to Just. Keep. Going. We double down, and resolve to jump over the high bar we’ve set for ourselves.
But there are no hero cookies for doing life the hard way.
Consider where you might be able to step away and create some breathing room for yourself. There are probably a few ways you can do this that are right under your nose.
2) Redefine what it means to “be available.”
Just because there’s a blank space on your calendar doesn’t mean you’re available.
You might be in the habit of interpreting the question, “Are you available?” to mean, “I know you technically don’t have any time and are at your wit’s end, but pretty please could you bend over backwards and squeeze this one other thing in, even if it makes you feel like your head is going to explode? You’re the one we can always count on because we know you’ll feel guilty if you turn us down and you like to help people.”
From now on, when someone asks if you’re available, imagine they’re asking you, “Can you comfortably commit to this without feeling depleted?”
I promise, it will help you set better boundaries.
3) Get clear on your non-negotiables.
Deep down, you likely already know what you need to feel fairly balanced.
Maybe you need one day to yourself each week. Maybe one hour every night. Maybe it’s exercise or meditation or a certain amount of sleep.
Take a moment to write down what you honestly need to keep your energy up.
Make it an appointment with yourself on your calendar, and make the commitment never to delete it. You can move it should you choose to do something else in that specific time, but it always needs to find a home. Our minds love to convince us that we can live without our needs being met, so if we’re not paying attention, we might end up deleting “our stuff” when other things come up. But when the time comes to follow through on the commitment you made that day last week when you felt like you could take on the world? You just might be kicking yourself.
So notice what you need, and keep it real with yourself about it. You’re allowed to need what you need.
Let me know which step you’re going to take in the comments below.