Once again, Jessica Duquette and I are dancing to the same music! She has written a wonderful post reminding us of how important it is not to over-control our time and allow time for spontaneity and living outside of work! Balance is so important to reducing stress and maintaining harmony and optimum performance.
Especially for those of us who are self-employed and trying to build a business, we can easily get into a routine where we fear if we don't work all the time, we won't make a living. If we don't work, we don't make money and may not be able to pay the bills. We may not be able to give enough work to people that depend on us to book them on jobs. If we don't market when we aren't working with clients, we won't get future work.
After a very slow July (which is typical for organizing work) in which I did quite a bit of marketing and writing, I've been going through a wonderful growth spurt in my business. But- and this is a big but - I haven't had non-work fun on my agenda for a couple months now. I say non-work fun because I actually do have fun at work much of the time. I really love what I do and the impact it has on people's lives. But when I book myself to work 7 days a week, it stops being as enjoyable. And being my own boss, I have no one to blame for the stress and overwork but myself!
When I'm working 15 hours a day and don't have time to visit our sick grandmother or send my brother a wedding present, don't have time to answer emails from my niece and friends, don't have time to write posts for my blog, and don't have time to keep up with mail, reading and other office tasks, I start to feel a huge weight of stress on my shoulders that reduces my enjoyment of everything.
Like Jessica, I suspect that I am not alone. I don't want to be a stressed-out workaholic but fear can be a powerful motivator. And you don't always even notice the fear you have! It comes disguised in excuses and reasons. For example:
My inner thoughts may be saying "If you tell a client you're not available till December, they might not book an appointment." What is that really? FEAR!
When my inner thoughts are saying "If you take time off, it might be really hard to get back into it again. Your routine will be all messed up." Once again, what is this? FEAR!
I tell myself that if I don't blog every few days, I might lose my readers and get out of the habit of writing. You guessed it - fear.
Here's a great one. If I delegate that work I'll have to spend just as much time training, reviewing the work and giving feedback to get it right as it would have taken me to do it. Once again - fear, fear, fear.
So how do you get at what's underlying the stress and start getting more fun back in your life?
When I'm in the thick of it, it all seems so rational I don't even notice the fears until until I stop and ask myself some key questions (just like I would ask my coaching clients). For example:
- What story are you telling yourself when you are overbooking your calendar? What are you afraid of?
- What would happen if you allowed yourself more time off?
- What needs do you have that aren't being met?
- How are you taking care of yourself so that you can take care of your marriage and your clients for the long term?
It's all about the questions you ask yourself. Good questions help you hear the stories you are telling yourself behind the actions you take. They also help you reveal the thoughts and emotions that are causing you stress.
Just as I use questions to help my clients create new stories for dealing with their situations, it's time for me to do the same. I'm going to replace those fear driven thoughts by creating a better story...a story where I remember to:
- trust in the abundance of the universe
- trust that my basic needs WILL always be met
- know that taking time to take care of oneself, refresh oneself, have fun, and even just do nothing for a while is a good and necessary part of a balanced life
- trust that clients would rather wait for an appointment than have me overworking myself
- know I'll be a better coach when I'm also taking care of myself as I would encourage my clients to take good care of themselves
- trust that I don't have to work 7 days a week and the business will continue to grow.
My new story will also include a chapter where I get to have fun in addition to the organizing or coaching work that I love! What's your new story going to include?
Wishing you much fun in your future! : )