Meet Jane. She is busy, stressed, tired and has no time for herself.
Married. Two teenagers. One dog.
School, tuition and extra-curricular activities which she jokes makes her an ‘unpaid chauffeur’
Washing, drying, ironing, folding, cooking and cleaning means that the house falls apart without her.
She has worked as a medical receptionist for over 10 years in a specialist clinic.
Over the years, she has slowly put on weight. A result of sporadic exercise routines, snacking and poor sleep.
In my whitepaper on work-life balance (download here), I speak about the dangers of being busy.
As work and life gets busier, we become time and energy poor (See Figure 1). This is a vulnerable state. Our decision making is compromised. Often the decisions that we make delay what is ‘important, not urgent’ (See Figure 2).
Figure 1 – Less time and energy to focus on the important, not urgent
Figure 2 – Excerpt from work-life balance whitepaper (download here)
There is a certain inertia to life. The demands of work. The responsibilities of life. Everything is moving so fast. You are already behind so the idea of pausing or stopping seems illogical to the left brain and scary to the right brain. It’s a lot like trying to get off a bus in Sri Lanka. The bus never actually stops. You have to jump off while it’s moving. Life can seem a lot like that. It takes courage to jump off the bus.
Are you happy with where you bus is heading? If not, get off.
There is always another bus to ride.
If you are happy with where your bus is heading, are you happy with the route it’s taking? If not, get off.
There is always more than one way to get to the same destination.
In Jane’s case, she was not happy with where her bus was heading. The longer she stays on this bus, she will do what a lot of busy parents do which is put everyone else’s oxygen mask on before her own. The longer she stays on this bus, the more she will put off what’s important, not urgent to her. This could mean strained relationships and slowly declining health. These non urgent matters may quickly become urgent or even critical.
The thing that breaks my heart about Jane is that after years of putting other people first and having no time or energy left at the end of the day to tend to herself, she feels lost.
“I don’t even know who I am anymore let alone what I want.” – Jane
My suggestion for Jane and anyone in her situation is simple, but not easy.
GET OFF THE BUS!
It’s scary to step away from something familiar and step into uncertainty. It takes courage. If you feel a bit scared, you are probably doing it right. Congratulations!
If you decide to get off the bus, here are some useful principles to guide you.
- Commit to the fundamentals.
Daily exercise, eating well and good sleep will improve your physiology. This will give you a greater sense of vitality and energy. This will allow you to make better decisions. Remember, making decisions when you are time and energy poor is risky.
- Write down everything that is ‘important, not urgent’ in your life.
See Image 1 for examples. Don’t forget yourself. That’s number 1. At the very least, set aside time for yourself to reflect on the past and dream for the future.
- Increase discretionary time (i.e. time to do whatever you want).
There are so many ways to do this. You can start by auditing how you spend your time and ruthlessly eliminating anything that is not crucial. Be ruthless and unapologetic. You can always start things again if you find that you were too ruthless.
- Find a coach/mentor.
Life will constantly drag you off course. It’s invaluable to have a second set of eyes that you trust to help you ‘course correct’. I have a coach and interestingly, I am a coach. If you think that I can help you, email me on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here are 2 more. Beware of the 2 C’s – Cash and commitments.
If you are like most people, you need to work to make money. Financial pressure can make ‘getting off the bus’ seem impossible. Financial literacy is critical.
I highly recommend the Barefoot Investor. It’s subtitled the ‘only money guide you will ever need’. It comes close.
There are likely important people in your life who rely on you – partner, kids, colleagues, family and friends. Have conversations with these people, set clear boundaries and enforce them. In the long term, it’s best for you. This mean that it is best for everyone. You can’t expect anyone to take your boundaries seriously if you don’t. It won’t take long to ‘train’ the people around you.
If you want to download my whitepaper on work-life balance, click here.
Back to Jane. I lost touch with her. She stopped coming to see me. Maybe my bright green cardigan scared her off. Jane if you are reading this, I sincerely hope that you have gotten off the bus. You deserve it.
Much love to you and of course, myself.
If you want to find out more about coaching, email me at email@example.com
For more articles – https://drgihan.com/articles/
For free resources/podcasts – https://drgihan.com/media/
For our Solve for Greatness podcast – solveforgreatness.com