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I’d now like to talk about a very basic concept: We are human beings, and when we pack our days, weeks, and months full to the brim–without building in time to recalibrate–we send ourselves into a serious state of overwhelm.
Let’s talk about why we do this.
In every job, profession, industry, etc., recalibration isn’t optional. It’s just built into the process. For example, an airplane would never land and then take off again without refueling, unloading the luggage, and giving the new passengers time to board. Every post office, school, business, etc., has times when they are closed–so the employees can rest, the buildings can be cleaned, and anything broken can be fixed. (Even Disneyland, which is open 365 days a year, has a few hours in the middle of the night when all the gardening, painting, re-stocking, etc. is completed so it’s ready for guests the next day–and there are laws regarding how many hours an individual can work in a week in order to protect us from overwhelm.)
This makes sense, right? We want to create healthy societies that are sustainable.
So why do we fill our lives to the brim and give ourselves very little time to recalibrate, replenish, reassess, etc.? Why do we build more into our days than we can actually do? Why do we have the desire to do a lot at once…more than is humanly possible? Why, with our human minds, do we expect super-human things from ourselves?
This may not be an issue for you, but here’s a quick scenario to help you check in:
Do you ever get home from work, errands, being out with your children, or perhaps finishing up an event, and then throw your bags down, head out to the next activity, and then come home and hurry through dinner–leaving expired food in the fridge and crumbs on the counter and then dirty dishes in the sink–and then plop down on the couch because you’re so tired, leaving everything until “tomorrow”…but then you start the activities again, and you tell yourself that you’ll clean things up SOMEDAY? And then “someday” doesn’t ever come, so you simply live in the piles and chaos–randomly grabbing piles of things to launder when you’re out of clothes, or haphazardly getting food at the grocery store to stick in front of the food you know you should go through (that is already inside the fridge or pantry)?
Maybe the details of this scenario aren’t exact. This could be rewritten for a pure “office/digital technology” scenario, where you go from one email to the next, one meeting to the next, one project to the next–never actually stopping to ask yourself what it is you are working toward or if this pace is actually serving you and your goals.
Essentially, what I want to know is if you ever catch yourself going from one thing to the next without recalibrating.
We aren’t going to solve this entire issue in the next few minutes, but here are a few thoughts to consider as to WHY we do this:
—> The gap between where we are and where we want to be is so big that we are convinced moving faster will somehow get us there.
Maybe slowing down is painful because we have to face our situation head on. This especially happens when we are sick, weighed down emotionally, or have low energy for some other reason. It’s hard sometimes to admit that we need rest (especially when it seems like “everyone else is up and at ‘em”). Maybe we think if we’re constantly in motion, we’re proving to ourselves and our families and our neighbors/co-workers/society that we are “producers”–producing something, and we’re not worthless. That motion can give us a rush that perhaps replaces the satisfaction we are looking for in other areas.
—> Our hearts want to do more than our bodies can complete, and because we don’t want to let our hearts down, we push our bodies as far as we possibly can.
This is a hard one. I find myself in this spot often. My husband wants me to attend an event with him, my friend wants to talk with me, my child wants me to get something in the mail–or drive to a spontaneous activity–or check something online. A neighbor invites me to a party, our church needs volunteers to serve, the local political group wants help fundraising, the person knocking on the door wants to paint my address on my curb. I care deeply about people, and so each of these scenarios is important to me. It hurts my heart sometimes when I am forced to prioritize. So if someone needs to take on the pain of “no,” it’s easiest on me (in the short-term) if that person who takes on the pain is ME.
Of course, I know people who have no problem with boundaries like the ones I listed above regarding relationships, but sometimes their struggles are with work-a-holism. One more client. One more call. One more email. One more comment on social media. One more meeting, conversation, etc. It can go on and on because the vision they see for their lives is so much bigger than what is reasonable for a human being.
These aren’t comfortable conversations. It’s not often easy to push our egos aside and recognize our limits.
—> We don’t want to miss out. FOMO is a real thing. For introverts and extraverts, it can look very different, but sometimes saying no to an activity, invitation, or request feels terrible. What if everyone else is having fun? What if they all get ahead because they participated? What if their businesses take off or their children end up getting more awards—because they did more than I did? What if I see it posted later on social media, and I realize I truly missed something amazing? What if I’m looked down upon because I’m not there? What if I miss a chance to build a relationship or do something kind or fulfill my purpose because I’m doing something random like cleaning my fridge or taking a nap?
Recalibration works best when we have a process—a reliable routine in place that enables us to renegotiate expectations with ourselves—without worrying that everything will be forgotten if not done right now.
Here are a few suggestions to encourage regular recalibration, and I hope these ideas will spark some additional thoughts that will work ideally for your own situation.
First, it’s helpful to identify what our “homeostasis” is for our energy, relationships, home life, work life, etc.
How much rest is non-negotiable? How much time, energy, and attention do we truly need to invest in our marriages, partnerships, children, extended family, neighbors, etc. in order to feel really good about how we’re showing up for the people in our lives? How “messy” can the house be before it starts to weigh on us? How engaged do we need to be in our work/professional life in order to know we are doing the right things in the right way to support our families financially and do the work we were meant to do?
Second, we can commit to moving at a calm, sustainable pace–and reprogram our minds to avoid the frenzy.
Many people in the world are in a frenzy. At least here in the United States, it is absolutely socially acceptable to be busy from morning until night without the time for a break. But what we don’t often see are the moments/weeks/months of burnout that happen behind the scenes. I used to move really, really fast, and then I would cry and have meltdowns and have to go to bed for a few days at a time. Or I would let the subconscious stress build up, get super sick, and spend weeks in bed. Over the past several months, I have been deliberately reprogramming my brain with CALM as the keyword, and I’ve chosen to only work at a pace that I can sustain for the rest of my life. It’s been interesting to see how my health has improved, my mood has improved, and my work has improved–especially because I stopped evaluating my success based on “how much I did.”
Third, we can accept that limits are a gift.
Beautiful things come from rest. It’s often when we are the most thoughtful and reflective, it’s when we can consider our favorite relationships, it’s when we can commune with the Divine, it’s when our bodies can heal. It’s fantastic to have a heart that wants to do everything, but it’s more fantastic to have a heart that can feel that same desire and compassion–but also feel good about modeling a healthy lifestyle.
Fourth, when “the creep” starts to happen, and your lists get too long, and that homeostasis starts to suffer, it’s helpful to utilize some tools from your Command Central to renegotiate with yourself.
I love my “Someday List.” It enables me to take things that I wish I could do right now (but that I don’t need to prioritize) and put them into a safe place where I will review the idea in the future. Every good idea has its time, but that time is not always NOW. 🙂
Calendar triggers are also one of my favorite tools. I can easily take something I’m worried about or something I’m hoping to do, take it off my current plate, and set a calendar trigger on a specific day in the future when I want that idea to come back to me. It gives my brain a rest, but I feel confident that I won’t forget about that idea for good. (Google Calendar or a digital task manager works really well for these!)
Sometimes I even make full lists like, “When I get home from vacation” or “After Christmas,” and then I take a photo, add it to a calendar trigger, and take a deep breath–knowing it will show up after that busy period of time so I can reassess when things have calmed down.
Getting our hearts and minds to cooperate and support our humanness definitely takes some effort, but it is a skill that will serve us all well–not just for the “now,” but far into the future. I want you to create a life you love, and I want you to know that just because everyone around you seems to be moving at a crazy pace and loving every minute of it, the real story most likely isn’t being shared. Humans need to recalibrate. Humans deserve to have calm hearts and minds. Humans have the capacity to do amazing things in the world, but it doesn’t have to happen right this instant, with absolute perfection, in a way that invites fame, publicity, and standing ovations.
Your LearnDoBecome Invitation is to take a look at your life right now and assess how your regular recalibration is going. Are you moving through life in a sustainable way? Is there anything that would help you to adjust things so that you can feel lighter when you wake up each morning? (This could also be a great conversation to have with a spouse or a trusted friend!)
Would you like to work with Team LearnDoBecome to build your STEP Command Central?
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