Less than 5 Minutes on the Treadmill
Today I decided to go to the gym. It would have been my first time this year. I feel better when I get to the gym regularly for a 1 hour walk and 5 minute cool down. Less than 5 minutes after settling upon the right treadmill, I received a text message from my brother saying that he had a flat tire and needed my assistance.
On its face, this may seem like something my brother should handle on his own, but in reality it is complicated. For the sake of my brother’s privacy I won’t go into more details. The main point is that four hours later, his truck had been towed to my mother’s house and it was past time for me to take her to the viewing of her best friend’s husband’s body at the same funeral home that prepared my father for burial; at the same place we had his viewing almost 4 years ago.
Best Laid Plans
Today didn’t go as planned, but let’s face it…most days don’t. I’ve always been really proud of protecting my “buffer” days. Buffer days are my administrative days. These are days that I schedule twice a week (Tuesdays & Thursdays.)
The purpose of buffer days is to complete administrative tasks (correspondence, deposits, notary paperwork, marketing and writing proposals) and creative tasks (writing my blog, creating workshop content and updating forms).
I also use admin days to schedule my own appointments like massage therapy, doctors visits and so on. I’ve always needed uninterrupted time in order to get into an effective flow and be productive.
It seems that lately my buffer days are filled with almost everything but what I’ve planned to do for that day. It is time to reverse the trend.
Reversing the Trend
When I am really honest with myself, it is clear that I don’t treat my buffer days as essential and uninterruptible. It is time to treat my “buffer days” like my direct service days. On direct service days I am:
- doing therapy,
- consulting, or
- providing supervision.
On those days I am focused. Nothing interferes with the delivery of that service. I don’t say “yes” to things that fall on service days. So how do I reverse the trend?
It comes down to prioritizing my commitment and tasks for my well-being and my practice. I have to prioritize my buffer days-
- Even when it is hard;
- Even when others will be disappointed;
- Even when I might feel guilty or neglectful towards my family.
The truth is those buffer days help me to have successful and competent direct service days. I am fortunate that even when I am not at my sharpest I am still effective. But every single person I serve deserves more than merely effective.
I’m Not the Only One…You’re Not the Only One
I know that I am not the only one that goes through these types of things…days on end that don’t go as planned. For example:
- You have a big presentation at work and your child gets sick so you have to leave work or at least stop working to find someone to help with your child.
- You’re looking forward to down time on a holiday and a client has a mental health emergency.
- You have a lot of errands to run and your car breaks down. Too make matters worse, the car broke down due to neglect while you were caring for everyone else.
Life doesn’t go as planned. Work doesn’t go as planned. Often health doesn’t go as planned. Relationships don’t go as planned. Ultimately, we have a profound impact and a role to play in how we manage our responsibilities and our interdependence with others.
I’m just recognizing that I have what could be referred to as a “take over spirit.” Said another way…I can be bossy. I take over; I lead; I take charge, etc…
Take Over Spirit
When you have a take over spirit, people heavily rely on you to “fix it.” As a therapist, supervisor, consultant and trainer, I’ve always been conscious about not blurring those lines in my personal life and family relationships. However, all of those roles lend themselves to being comfortable and confident as it relates to dealing with difficult and painful things. It becomes a natural aspect of my being to “take care of it.” Natural to be the primary caregiver to my mother; despite now having two siblings living in the same metropolitan area who can share the load.
It becomes natural to think “I am the most equipped to handle this…so I should and I will.” That “take over spirit” is not my friend and it is not yours. That take charge space is great for me as an entrepreneur, but not great for my life.
I don’t expect every day to go as planned. Nor do I expect or desire not to be available for my mother or my brother. Instead it is vital that I stick to what I’ve planned for me. No one can walk on the treadmill for me and have that lead to my benefit. I have to do it for myself.
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