Sometimes, we can have a life we love and go about it in the wrong way. Sometimes we can make ourselves wonder why we ever wanted a life like this and then we begin to question where our lives are headed.
If you aren’t taking proper care of yourself then it doesn’t matter how ideal your life is for you, it’s just going to make you feel tired, grumpy and burned out. It can happen to anyone.
Here are a few recent examples. Do any of them sound familiar?
We took our puppy to the vet to be desexed on Monday.
After an evening of not eating for her due to the procedure and then the day of, we thought she would sleep a lot, walk into things a lot (due to the Elizabethan Collar) and generally be quieter than she normally is.
Well, she does walk into things a lot, but if anything, she’s become more active than normal.
She wants to run around and chase the ball like normal, jump on the bed like normal and chew on things she isn’t meant to (but nothing new there). And most of the time, she can get away with it.
But sometimes, she’ll suddenly realise that, actually, she’s really tired and uncomfortable. She’ll slow down, snuggle with me on the couch and fall asleep. And then she rests.
Until she wakes up, forgets and starts it all over again…
My husband likes to go go go. I’ll sleep when I’m dead is something he likes to say. He’ll go to work in the morning, then come home and go into his shed and work more, creating all sorts of things. Then, when it gets too late to be making noise he’ll come in and spend the rest of the evening with us, eating dinner, watching TV, listening to the radio and talking about anything and everything.
If things we hadn’t anticipated show up, or we happen to sleep in and the time he wanted to spend creating things gets taken up, he’ll call it a day wasted. He doesn’t stop until he becomes extremely tired or becomes ill. Then he has to take extended time off. Just more time wasted until he can get back into it again (although he does enjoy spending some more time with us, it’s not all negative).
I supervise our puppy while he is at work during the day most days, then in the evenings while he is working in the shed. She isn’t quite as good at listening to me as she is my husband, and so her good behaviour goes downhill a bit when she’s with me. I often find it difficult to find time to get things done during the day time, so I’ll often work during dinner, or set up outside near the shed for some company and additional supervision for our puppy. Once a fortnight I’ll go to a library to read for half an hour to an hour to take a break, but the moment I return, it’s like I never left.
On the mornings I go to work, I often find that I will work, work, work and I’ll reach the end of my shifts at 12:30pm-1pm and realise, oh, wait, I haven’t taken a break and all I’ve had today is a Spocka (spiced mocha, my favourite way to include coffee in my morning caffeinated beverage) at 7:30am. I tell myself that that’s the life of a manager and that I’ll try and remember next time.
Then, sometimes on a particularly exhausting day, I’ll wonder why I’m so tired all the time and, am I sick again? I shake my head at myself and resolve to make something change.
But so far it hasn’t happened.
The problem in a lot of cases isn’t our daily activities. It’s the way we are going about them.
So how do we fix this? Here’s what I’m going to do. This is what has worked for me in the past and what I should have done long ago (before I lost myself in a lifestyle that doesn’t work with me).
Your first step, shouldn’t be to create a schedule. In fact, for some areas of your life, it won’t be possible. For example, I can’t set a schedule for my shifts, because each day’s tasks will depend on the previous day’s team and what they did before they left. It will depend on when customers come in, how many come in and what they order. It will depend on which team members turn up that day and how long they have been working there.
Instead, begin by describing your ideal situation. Don’t get too specific on things you can’t control (the behaviour and actions of others that you have no influence over), but on the things that you can control. For example, when I walk in first thing in the morning, I want to see at least one of each sandwich and wrap in the display cabinet so that my team don’t spend their whole shift stocking up the cabinet and can practise making coffee and take customer orders. I want to know that the fridge is either fully stocked or that the stock missing has been recorded and arrangements have been made to restock it.
These are things that I can ask the team on Monday afternoons to do to ensure that the cafe stays running well. Rather than focusing on how many customers we have through the doors or what is ordered, I’m focusing on things I can control. When these things are done, it means I can focus on the things that need to be done and I can ensure that all the tasks are focused on equally so that I have time to do more than just quickly drink a Spocka before my shift begins.
Next, work with the people who are likely to influence the ideal situation to come to a compromise that works for both you and those people. Some of the things in your ideal may not be doable for those other people for various reasons, but reaching a conclusion that is as close as possible to what both of you need is the only way to ensure that changes will happen.
For example, there isn’t much I can do about during the day when my husband is at work, but we could negotiate evenings to work and do things we enjoy, with one evening spent not working and then creating an arrangement for weekends, depending on what work and events are occurring.
Then you can begin to create a timeline. I use the word timeline rather than schedule, because to me schedule sounds very fixed and sometimes it’s not possible to have a fixed schedule, so timeline works better here, but you can use any words you like.
For me, that would be marking off afternoons when each of us gets a chance to work in peace and then a flexible weekend plan, as well as adding in time for no work at all to relax and spend time together. At work, it would be taking into account times when the cafe is busier and quieter and working time to eat and recharge into that timeline, while ensuring that not everyone goes on break all at once.
Finally, sometimes your timeline may need to be reworked, for example, if your schedule or someone else’s schedule changes. When this happens, just stop, take a breath, then go with it and find a new timeline that fits the new situation.
Now I want to hear from you. What situations in your life do you need to work on? What is your ideal situation and what could you do to reach it?
Leave me a comment below. I read every one.