While working on two books, establishing a business and raising my daughter (who was a toddler then), my days were always too short, and my stress level was at its peak. The demands on my time were great and the first thing to go, to make room for those demands, was my daily walk.
The second thing to go was my attempt at home-cooked meals. I say “attempt” because I’m the world’s worst cook.
The third thing I shaved from my day was two hours of sleep.
For a month or two this worked well, but then the hectic pace and lack of balance caught up with me. But I felt I had no choice. To meet the demands that were bombarding my life, I had to make more time and that meant less time for myself. Didn’t it?
As I relayed this frustration to a friend, he questioned my priorities and the lack of “me time” in my schedule. I informed him that I simply had no choice. I had taken on these commitments and had to make the time for them.
Yet he noticed my voice was monotone, and my typical excitement toward my endeavors was evaporating. He offered suggestion after suggestion, and I countered each with the same reason: I would feel guilt doing so much for myself when there was so much else that needed tending. Finally, he offered the following anecdote.
“Your house is on fire. You’re on the way to an important presentation. You’re late, and the deadline is one that could cost you great consequence. But you look back, and there is that house burning. Everything you treasured in your life succumbing to flames. The fire is moving slowly enough that you could get out some of your most prized possessions – of course, this will only make you later for your presentation. What do you do?”
I rolled my eyes. This seemed like an obvious choice. “I’d go back,” I replied. “I’m not crazy enough to let all that go over some meeting.”
“Would you feel guilty for doubling back?”
“No,” I said immediately.
“Well, trust me then; your house is on fire. Double back for yourself.” I hung up the phone and realize he was right. It was up to me to find the extinguisher to put out the fire. It was up to me to make the time to live.
Often when we get busy or overwhelmed the first area we neglect is our own needs. Contemplate what needs you have been neglecting in your life. Begin devoting time to yourself on a regular basis.
Create a list of 10 simple ways to devote 5 or 10 minutes to “you” each day. Write these on a calendar and then each day choose one idea from the list to refuel.