Over the years I have had many “plans” for how to create balance in my life. As a business owner, I promised myself that I would take off every Friday afternoon, or that I would take one day a week to do non-work-related activities. But none of those plans ever worked. Not even close. There was always work that needed to be done that I deemed to be more important than walking out of the office and changing gears.
What I have finally figured out is that the only thing that works is if I formally schedule time to disengage. And even more than that, I need to “exit the building”…..I need to leave my office, leave the house, leave the city, even leave the country! When I physically leave the spaces where I have “roles” that I need to play, then I can truly relax, reflect, and get some perspective.
Ironically, leaving that space has always been difficult for me. As much as I know I will benefit from stepping away, the amount of planning and preparation it takes for me to officially “exit the building” takes a lot of energy. The 1-2 days before a trip or vacation are not the days that I recommend choosing to spend time with me. I am focused, stressed and anxious, making sure that things are in order so that I can be assured that all will run smoothly in my absence. I am getting better at it, but it has taken consciously observing how much I fight that separation to get myself to change my patterns.
The most simple “exit” plans are to have regular gatherings with friends that get me to step away and change gears. I have come to really enjoy my quarterly “girls day out” with a dear friend, and my monthly “bead” or “tea and tarot” night with girlfriends. This is something that until recently, I did not commit to putting on the calendar. There is ALWAYS work to do that would give me a ready-made excuse to remain in my office churning through the insurmountable piles of paperwork and e-mails. But I know that I am ultimately more effective when I return, and feeling more connected to friends who are a key source of grounding for me. It took some convincing. I used to be the person who would say “Must be nice that those other people can take time to do something fun.” But I had to face the reality that this was a choice I had the control to make. And now I cancel out on those commitments far less often than I used to.
Even more important have been the formal, extended departures such as our yearly trip to Canada, and a recent spiritual retreat I attended led by two of my teachers. There is really no replacement for this type of intentional effort to put yourself in a completely different energy, with no specific goal except to spend time getting clear and centered. Make the decision to do this once and I promise you will find it is far easier to put it in your schedule every time you decide to do it in the future.
I am getting ready to head out for what has become somewhat of an annual Fall 3-day getaway with close friends. Yes, there is much work to do in this office, and I am not really sure how I will complete what needs to be done before I leave. But I’ll figure it out. The importance of reconnecting with myself and friends is too important. So if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to make like Elvis and “exit the building.” I invite you to make your own plans to do the same.