“Don’t you dare shrink yourself for someone else’s comfort – Don’t become small for people who refuse to grow.” – Unknown
Life never ceases to surprise me. One day it seems I have things all in order and in the next moment I am being thrown for a loop. Even though my routine is somewhat predictable, like going to soccer games, preparing weekly dinners, helping my children with homework, and being the protector and provider for my family, we all know nothing really is predictable about any of it.
What I have learned over the years is to acclimate my life in such a way that allows me to adjust to the things I cannot control and work on the things that I can. For some of you this may be an easy task, but for those (like me) that fall into that special category of being overly structured, it is not so simple. You see, one slight change of plans that disrupts the anticipated flow could cause chaos to erupt, at least in our brains.
So over the years I have adopted some new tools in my routine to help me acclimate to my constantly changing life and schedule to sudden changes and adjustments that come unannounced. Since the alternative was for me to be stressed, angry and not really a nice person to be around I realized that I had no other option.
The fairly new term that is used in corporate America better known as Work-Life-Balance is what I could equate my adjustment to. There really is not anything new about it except the business worlds adoption of it and coming to terms that it needs to exist in order for there to be harmony, a sense of fulfillment and accomplishment in the workplace, which all equates to better productivity.
So what about the “life” part of this formula? The part where we need to make conscientious decisions about how we spend our time and who we decide to spend it with, because if we are not actively engaged in making ourselves better, the balance part really never happens. It simply becomes a nice sounding term that will rarely have an impact on us in a meaningful way.
In my opinion one of the most challenging components to fully embracing this idea is how we feel about ourselves. Case in point, I was talking with a few people last week about their daily routines and how stressed they were feeling with the needs of their children, being overly worked and always feeling mentally and emotionally drained. I could immediately relate, but instead of having a pity-party with these single-parents, I offered a few words of encouragement by asking them about commitment and how it relates to them specifically in their personal lives. I asked them, “When was the last time they committed something to themselves?”
For someone like myself who has devoted my life to my children and their well-being, and equally being a giver to those in my world, very seldom would I consider myself first, especially committing something to myself. It was easier and more common to commit myself to something or someone else. So even though the phrase may sound similar, they truly are polar opposites. One is designed for you while the other is for something or someone other than you.
The whole concept can cause one to stumble and resist that there is even a need to act on such a thing. After all, this is the way life has always been and rocking the boat is not something that I am accustomed to doing. Are these and statements like these phrases you would find yourself using if your were placed in this predicament? Do not feel bad, because you are not alone.
Just think about it for a minute. How many goals have you set for yourself over the course of your life? Some you have reached, others you have not. Was the goal designed to make you happy or feel fulfilled? I suppose it was initially, but once you accomplished it, what happens next? Of course, set a new goal. Even that seems like work that leads to something I will always be chasing until I am not. Then what? Do not get me wrong, setting goals are a critical part of life, but when they are not placed in the proper perspective they too can lead us down a path of disappointment.
The disappointment of not completing the ultimate objective, like not losing all the weight that you initially aimed for, not being married at the age you desired to be, not landing the job you set out to have or simply the disappointment of the life you now live today.
Things certainly do not work out the way we had them planned and we may find ourselves becoming disillusioned, but have you committed to yourself the small and simple things that our essential to a peaceful life along the way? Things like walks in the park, quiet time, listening to inspirational music, exercising just to maintain good health, spending time with people who see the best in you more often than not and taking the time to jot down what you do well today.
Rarely do we find the time to do such things because they seem futile, possibly even a waste of time or we are just too damn busy. I get it and have been there, but no longer will everyone else matter before me. There, I said it! Sure, I will always be one to help others, give my time, love and resources sacrificially where necessary, but not at the sake of being empty and with nothing inside after the giving is done.
How about you? Will you commit to yourself first? Even Jesus went away from His disciples to pray alone and get recharged and prepared for His ultimate sacrifice. At the end of the day we cannot be everything, everywhere and for everyone. When we try we break down and lose a sense of our direction and purpose. Then we become good for no one.
So why don’t you give it a try today. Make yourself a priority for a change without an excuse or apology. Schedule in some time for you. Get that massage you have been longing to get. Become unavailable for an hour per week. Turn off that phone and recharge you versus a gadget. Life will be there and intact when you return, but you will be different, better even, and ready to give your best when it is time again.