I’m a busy one. When it comes to work, I have what I call my regular hustle and my side-hustle. I’m the chapter counselor for a fraternity at a local university. And two roles that I value more than I can put into words – I’m a partner and a mom. Over the years, there have been variations of this. I’ve been a full-time student and a full-time employee. I’ve juggled a dissertation and a newborn. Yet, when I look back at the roles I’ve played so many have to do with the role I play for others.
Juggling a million things? Too busy to slow down?
Leadership isn’t just about leading others. The foundation of leadership comes from leading yourself. You can’t lead if you neglect yourself in the midst of the busy-ness of life. It’s easy to get caught up in a never-ending-to-do-list. It’s easy for the days, weeks, months, and years to fly by. It’s easy to say, “yes” to everyone but yourself. But I challenge you to try another way, a way to serve others wholeheartedly while remaining true to yourself. That means finding a balance in saying “yes” and saying “no.”
The word busy has become a powerful word in our society.
It gives us validation. It acknowledges power. It provides excuses (that’s a tough one to swallow…but it’s true). I’ve also learned to find validation, power, and clarity in the opposite of busy. There’s something almost magical that happens for me in still moments. These are the moments where the world seems to stop, even if for a split second. These are the moments where I feel grounded and whole. These moments also happen few and far between if I’m not intentional about it.
Pay attention to the answers you get when you ask people how they are doing or how work is going.
“Work is great. It’s so busy.”
“Life is busy…but good.”
“I meant to call you back. I’ve been so busy.”
With each year, time seems to fly by a little more. And each year, responsibilities increase. I take on more. I’m needed more. I say yes more. There’s something to be said though about the opposite.
In a culture that glorifies “busy”, what steps can you take to slow down?
Pump the breaks.
Slowing down doesn’t mean coming to a complete stop. Slowing down doesn’t mean you have to meditate in silence every day. Slowing it down means being intentional about decreasing external distractions. It means being conscious of reducing your pace. We live in a world where we often seek clarity through validation from external sources, when the greatest and most powerful validation we could ever need comes from within.
Take an honest inventory of what you need.
Sometimes what we need to be well goes against the grain of society, our family norms, or the unwritten rules of the workplace. When we are able to live in a way that’s congruent with what’s important and what we value, we get clarity. Maybe it means being honest with your partner about how you need 30 minutes to decompress after work so you can fully engage and be present. Maybe it means telling your supervisor that you need to block time on your calendar in order to maximize your productivity. Personally, I’ve struggled with the idea that someone will think I’m “less than” or that I “can’t hang.” When in reality, they will absolutely think these things (because they will be true!) when I’m trying to “fake it” by living life in a way that doesn’t align with what I need to be well and productive.
Protect your time.
Your time is just that – yours! It’s valuable. Why? Because you are valuable. When you know what you want and where you want to go, protecting time becomes a little easier. And if you don’t know? That’s okay! Start somewhere.
Here are some ways to protect your time:
- Make things that are critical to your well-being a priority. It doesn’t necessarily mean an overhaul of your schedule.
- Identify things you view as critical to our personal definition of wellness and honor them.
- Say: “I’m worth it”. That’s right – you are! You, right now, where you are today, not where you hope to be in 10 years. You are valuable, and so is your time.
As you journey through this week, make time for yourself, slow down the busy, be still, and be true to yourself.