I have a confession. I can be a workaholic, a perfectionist, and incredibly (frustratingly) incapable of accepting help most of the time. This does not just apply to work within a job either. These same traits come out in my role as a mother, with my social commitments, with all aspects of my life. I overload myself all the time. This I know. I have known, in fact, for years! And yet, time and time again, I have found myself working too hard, taking on too much, and struggling with the resulting stress alone. As this pattern repeats I have had to learn the hard lessons again and again.
Here’s the thing: we all know that when we are overloaded we become less productive, less effective with our time, and less able to find fulfillment in our day to day lives. We know this, but do we listen?
Over the past five years, things have slowly begun to change for me. This change has been possible due to many moments that have helped (some gently, some forcibly) to shift my perspective, to give me a reason to start listening.
My daughter was born. Those moments holding her shifted my priorities with such force that little could ever be as important.
My father passed away. A good man who worked selflessly and tirelessly for everyone else lost the one gift he was giving himself, his retirement. And we lost many moments with him.
I had a miscarriage. I was forced to consider whether different choices, a different lifestyle might have led to a different outcome.
My daughter began school. As a whole new world opened up to her, and her independence shone through, I considered the example I was setting her each day.
Each of these moments reminded me that once time passes, it’s gone. Time is fleeting. When I am “too busy”, when I work too hard, too long, allow myself to take on too much, I miss opportunities. I miss moments – the real ones, the ones that I want to remember. These moments gave me compelling reasons to start listening to the things that I have always known. To start doing less with my time, and gaining more valuable moments.
David Duchemin says:
Imagine having unlimited funds. You’d give money to almost anyone that asked, wouldn’t you? But now imagine you’ve got money in your pocket but have no idea how much is there. How carefully then would you give it away? What would you choose to spend it on, and to whom or what would you say no? You can say no with a smile. You can apologize. You can be kind about it. But every demand on your time that does not serve you, your work, and the people and causes that mean the most in this world to you are asking an audacious thing when they ask, unblinking, to take a piece of your most precious commodity.
Guard your time fiercely. Be generous with it, but be intentional about it. Guard it the same way you guard your money. It’s the one resource with which we have increasingly less to do our life’s work, and to be with those we love. Say yes to those things first.
By being intentional with our time, we ensure that we spend it where it is needed, where it is valued, and where it is beneficial. It is too easy to arrive at the end of the day, the end of the week, the end of the year, and wonder where it all went. With Christmas, New Years, and the whole holiday season craziness we can tend to take on so much that we miss all the important moments. Instead of laughter, connection, fun, and the sort of memories that we want to remember, we can find ourselves left with stress, frustration, and disappointment at there never being enough time.
Here is my challenge to you: find YOUR reason to do less these holidays. Connect with this to remind you to be intentional with your time. Be generous with yourself and your self-care. And ensure you don’t miss the moments that matter, with the people that matter most.
What would you like to spend your time on these holidays? Share in the comments below