This article was written by Betty Healey of RoadSigns.ca, a firm specializing in Conscious Communication and creating healthy, human work environments. Betty and her partner Jim have worked with our team here at Greenfield Services for nearly 10 years, helping us have a more engaged –and engaging – workplace. We bring you this article because with the Canadian and US long weekends coming up, we believe we ALL could use a little pause in this meetings industry of ours. Enjoy...
We had been on I-81 for less than 30 minutes when I saw the SIGN -
I had the following reaction: Really!
Sure enough, 5 miles later another SIGN: TEXT/REST STOP.
This is what it takes apparently to encourage drivers not to text and drive at the same time. As I assimilated this information, I looked to my left and sure enough there was a driver passing us and YES, he was texting. I was aghast as I find paying attention to the road and the other drivers enough of a challenge.
At our first rest stop, I found myself sitting on the toilet listening in on the women on the toilet next to me having a conversation on her cell phone. Honestly, it felt like an invasion of privacy.
As I settled back in the car I remembered the vacations I took, pre 1995, when there was no internet, no cell phones, no access to the world other than what was right in front of you. I also remembered how these vacations rejuvenated me, how I would arrive home to see everything with fresh eyes and a new perspective, and I realized that today's escapes do not offer this same opportunity.
We arrived at our condo to discover that there was no WiFi - OMG. Near panic. No internet and we had chosen not to purchase an international plan for our cell phones. Of course you see the humour and the irony in this. I have attracted what I was wishing for. That said, there is a Starbucks, with WiFi, within walking distance. Whew!
BUT: When did life become so urgent, so immediate, so NOW?
Vacation is of course simply a reflection of the life you have created, one dependent on being 'linked-in' to your devices, to e-mail, Face book and Twitter or whatever social media you use. It has become part of a growing addiction, one to which I am not immune. I like my daily dose of connection through Facebook surfing. I have become reliant on it in many ways. AND I also resent the intrusion, the texting while driving, the cell phones everywhere, the need to be attached. I have forgotten how to unwind completely, disconnect, BE quiet, to take pause. I doubt that I am alone.
All of this has left me thinking, not only about vacation, but also how I build in the important 'take pause' time in my life, what I refer to as ME FIRST time. I am left asking these questions, "Am I so addicted to doing, to being connected, that I have forgotten how to BE? When the NOW pre-occupies me, am I fully present to me?"
Back to Basics
While I will not be texting while driving, I am not immune to the demands and expectations of today's reality. I am also aware that you and I can make choices to establish boundaries for ourselves and the degree to which we stay connected. A few suggestions:
1. The 1% Rule
In ME FIRST, we recommend dedicating 1% of your day to YOU. Mathematically this represents 14.4 minutes, 15 minutes to make it easy.
It is amazing to me the number of people who find this a challenge. Fifteen minutes just for me - what will I do? And therein lies the challenge as this is designed to be "BEING" time, not to be filled with reading, shopping, knitting or any hobby. It is a time designed for reflection, for taking pause. It is a time to simply check in with yourself, to breathe, to meditate, to daydream, to become clear regarding your intentions, to be grateful for your life. It is a time for you to be fully present to YOU.
2. Big Rocks
This conversation has come up so many times recently, one that begins with, "there is never enough time", or "I am dancing as fast as I can and I still don't get everything done".
Here's the thing, you are not meant to get everything done. You are meant to get the important things done, what I refer to as the big rocks. The rest is filler, stuff that may not even belong to you or stuff that you are simply addicted to doing but when examined has little importance in the greater scheme of things. Use the 1% rule first thing in the morning and become clear on what is important for your day, name your big rocks, and plan your days accordingly.
3. Time Expands
One thing I know for sure, is that my work, my busyness will expand to fill the time I give it. How many times do I look up to see that the hands of the clock on my desk are reading 6 p.m. and I am still in the middle of whatever. I have also reached the point of ineffectiveness as fatigue influences the quality of my work.
I also know that when I put time limits on projects, I achieve them. Lesson: be clear on your time boundaries and know that you can achieve what you need to within the time you assign the project.
4. Know what is yours to Own
Be very clear on your YESes, what you agree to take on for others. This has been a fatal flaw for so many of us - we agree to take on issues or projects that do not belong to us. Somehow we believe we can do more efficiently or better. Yes and, they do not belong to us.
Remember, your taking on responsibilities that do not belong to you has results: you become overburdened while the other person does not have to own their responsibilities. It is a disservice to everyone. Not only that, our apparent goodwill holds others back - when they don't learn responsibility you also cheat them of growing confidence and self-esteem.
5. Understand your Addiction
I am very clear that my 'doing addiction' is highly connected to my sense of self-worth. I suspect I am not alone with this. It may be time for you to understand your addiction as well, whether this is doing, being connected, being responsible, and so on. The unfortunate truth is, none of these doings, which are external to you, will give you the gift of self-esteem or self-worth. Their effect is temporary.
The only person who can give this to YOU is YOU - you are the voice in your head and your heart, self-esteem comes from within. Staying busy is driven by your ego and your fear of simply stopping and listening. It is when you take pause that you have the opportunity to see the greatness of who you are and to begin acknowledging the difference you make to the world around you. It is in the quiet that the truth appears.
At the Awakening Festival in April I spoke about 'Cultivating Your Diamond'. The busyness that we have come to expect of ourselves allows no time for this. I encourage you to take pause, to identify time in your life for you and step away from the many distractions that so easily take up your time. You are worth the investment!
And by the way, when you are on vacation, make sure to disconnect!