A few weeks ago I taught a 3-hour virtual workshop… and it kicked my ass.
The workshop itself went well! The feedback was positive and I felt good about it.
But I also felt hungover for several days after. I had a migraine start the next day and started to feel sick the day after that. The week following I slept poorly due to a persistent cough, had terrible fatigue and was completely unproductive.
I had set high hopes for what I would accomplish that week. Instead, I had several partial days of staring at my computer for hours before I guiltily gave up and curled up in bed.
I couldn’t focus or do much of anything and I felt pretty bad about it.
Not only did I not get anything done, but I also didn’t rest and recharge.
Take my advice… I'm not using it
As per David J. Henderhan, I didn’t take my own damn advice. I didn’t walk my talk.
Any of you who are longtime readers or clients know that I write, teach and tell anyone who will listen how important it is:
- To take care of yourself
- To listen to your body
- Downtime is productive time
- Self-care is a competitive advantage
- … etc. etc. etc.
I am all about the “minimum viable day” when you feel unwell or how you need to give yourself permission to take time and space when your body demands it.
I truly believe in those things, but sometimes, even someone like me whose foundational beliefs rest on being intentional... forgets.
I forgot that I am allowed to (and need to) take my own damn advice.
4 ways to reconnect to your habits and reset your boundaries when they slip (because they will!)
Sometimes it feels like I should either be immune to needing these habits or boundaries OR I should have smoothly integrated them into my life already. Like I have ascended to some higher plane of existence. 🙄
Spoiler alert: I need them, I have not smoothly integrated them into my life (at least not always) and I am still kicking around this plane of existence with everyone else. 😅
It’s hard. Even as I teach about living an intentional life, I am learning and practicing.
As I look back now, that week was a reminder that I too need to continually come back to basics, reconnect with my habits, and reset my boundaries.
This experience seemed like a good opportunity to remind us all (me especially) that:
1. Your worth is not measured by how productive you are
Attaching worthiness to productivity is a tough one to untangle. It’s built into our culture from an early age, through grade school and into our professional lives. It’s a mindset that has dug its roots deep into many of us and will take a lot to chop away.
I know it’s something I have battled with throughout my life. Sometimes it’s a battle I win, other times it’s like that week: Every day in my daily reflections I lamented how little I had gotten done and how bad it made me feel.
I had forgotten that my worth is not measured by how productive I am. When I take a step back, it’s to remember there will always be more work.
That might sound discouraging, but what it really means is that the world will not end if I take a few days to recover. The work I do, while important, is not THAT important. There is nothing that can’t wait.
Reminder: Your worth is not measured by how productive you are but by who you are. You are allowed to not be 100% on at all times. Check your ego. 😉
2. Rest, self-maintenance and self-care are investments in your future self
Guilt and half-working are not the way to rest and recharge when you feel unwell or unfocused. It’s, in fact, a huge waste.
Shocking, I know.🙄
I was sick for almost two weeks. When I finally realized I was sabotaging myself after a particularly terrible night of coughing, I took it easy for a few days. I did the minimum amount of work and life things and then let the rest go.
Lo and behold I started to feel better (also the virus must have finally given up).
Looking back, I wonder how much quicker I would have recovered if I had let myself rest sooner.
Reminder: You are your most important asset and you have to take care of that asset. When you don’t, it’s a disservice to yourself and all the things that are important to you.
3. The work of an intentional life is ongoing
There is no magical solution or productivity hack that will make it so we’re all cured of the urgent pressure we put on ourselves to work more, do more, and BE more. It’s a state of being that is constantly reinforced.
The work of being thoughtful and conscious of our choices and how they impact us is ongoing.
The discipline it takes to be reflective and consistent doesn’t happen without effort.
The mindset shifts required to think differently about how we spend our time, energy and attention are slow and often at odds with all the other messaging we get about the “right way to be” (usually hustling harder and harder).
I wish I could say that this messaging didn’t impact me anymore, but it does.
Reminder: There is no “right way to be”. The right way is the one you choose, with thoughtfulness and intentionality. It’s what works for you, in your life, and in your circumstances. And it takes work to be intentional!
4. Begin again
My husband and I decided to start daily meditations. We listen to Sam Harris’ soothing voice (via the Waking Up app) guide us through increasingly mind-bending lessons on the nature of consciousness and the meditations themselves.
One of the things he repeats over and over is: when you find yourself lost in thought instead of focused on the meditation begin again.
The same applies here.
You will forget, overdo it, your schedule will get too full, and you will let your boundaries and good habits slip. You will not give yourself the space to be sick, to rest and recharge. You will ignore the protests of your body and mind and try to push forward.
It’s normal. It’s human.
It’s exactly what I did.
Reminder: When you realize things have slipped, begin again.
I began again, you can too
I shared this experience to dispel any illusion that an intentional life comes easy to anyone. Writing this article has been a confession of sorts, a way for me to forgive myself for stumbling as I try to walk my talk.
After recovering from being sick I reconnected to my daily habits: writing, reflection, fitness, and now meditation.
I am conscious of and have reset my boundaries around what I agree to do and not do.
I am taking my own damn advice. I have begun again. 😊
I encourage you to take a breath and step back from the crescendo of life and ask yourself:
Have my boundaries and good habits slipped?
If so, what do you need to do to begin again?
If you need some help reconnecting to your habits and resetting your boundaries, let's have a chat.