This past January I set my one word for the year as “Health,” hoping it would capture all parts of my life that I hoped to improve: My physique and being proactive against illness, my emotional health and getting to a place where I feel able to just be me without the anxiety, and a healthy relationship with my husband, kids, and others who are near and dear to me. Although the one word helped to keep it as a focus and not simply a resolution to abandon after the first failure, it left an unsettling sense of all that I was still NOT doing. The motivation of the word didn’t focus me on improvement, but instead created an ongoing list of to-dos in my mind and a picture of what I hoped to be that was so starkly in contrast to where I was/am at. Needless to say, that type of thinking was the unhealthy mindset that I was looking to grow out of.
This past spring, steeped in the stress of wrapping up a school year chock full of performances and planning for the year ahead, I found myself tweaking my word from an all-or-nothing “Health” to that of “self preservation.” The shift has been a powerful one, allowing me to think of how to set limits on my time and energy I give to others — ultimately allowing me to (one day!) channel that preserved energy into doing those activities and fostering those relationships with others that were at the core of my wish to be more healthy in the first place. Eureka…so why am I still stuck in the same place of trying to squeeze it all in so I can measure up?
As I shared in my previous post, my trip out east to Philly gave me so much food for thought and I find myself still almost two weeks later reflecting on how to put it all into action. Todd Neslony and Brad Gustofson shared in their session the fallacy of “time” and how often we, as leaders, moms, dads, Americans, use the excuse of not having time. In fact, Todd argued, we make the time for the things that we prioritize. This struck me because I realized that I don’t have a difficult time prioritizing my time while at school. With my Wonder Woman cape securely in place, I would never think of saying to a parent/staff member/student, “Ooooh…I really have so much shopping to do for my son’s birthday party and can’t get to you. Sorry!” or “I’m sorry, but I really had a stressful time at home last night/this morning and just can’t even deal with this.” Coming home, however, how often are the roles shifted and I brush off my kids or husband who are looking to connect with me, but see the toll of the school day all over my face? At times, the only way to stop the work priority list of to-dos is to grab a glass of wine and to check out with some nonsense TV. In the interest of self preservation, how do we stop allowing work to wiggle its way to the top of my priority list. Each and every time.
One thing that I took from a conversation with Danny Bauer and a recent Principals in Action challenge is to remove gmail from my phone. The fact that it’s there, always available at the quick click of an icon allows for me to (even briefly) check in to work…and check out of being present at home. Don’t get me wrong, removing it (even the thought of removing it) left me so anxious about what I’d miss from work. How sad that I’ve never been anxious about missing out on something the kids are doing – sad, but not like, “What if something happens and I don’t find out about it until tomorrow?” Why not take that same comfort in knowing that those who need to get a hold of me can and will? And so now, when I make the conscious decision to tackle some work at home, it will require me to bust out the laptop and commit to it — rather than let it steal so many moments from my “free” time. This July I will share this with my staff members and will urge them to do the same for the sake of their preservation
I will also consciously battle to take that reclaimed time and spend some of it on me. Rather than grab a glass of wine to mentally unplug for the night, I’m going to try a meditation app for ten minutes or take a walk with a podcast. Our initial worry as moms is to feel like that time is selfish after spending a long day at work. If I prioritize that time for me and then follow it up with focused, prioritized time on those relationships and being present at home, I am optimistic that they will see someone who can model a more healthy balance…rather than someone who is “helping” with math homework while trying to answer back a quick email while internally trash-talking herself for not getting the dog walked. We make time for those things that matter to us, but for me it’s more about making the time matter.
Cheers to progress, self discovery, self preservation, and getting priorities back in check!
And now for the Truffle Shuffle…