A guest post by Nariya Worrell
Think of when your phone automatically resets. For some reason, it crashed and you lost all your data, pictures, and settings.
You didn’t plan it. It’s usually inconvenient (to say the least) and wiped out all the things you had so perfectly set up to suit your needs. Now, think about an event or set of events that abruptly and unexpectedly forces you to reconfigure your life. In my case, it was the health crisis my father faced last October that required me to be more present for my family than I had been before.
Almost five years ago, I decided to leave the 9-5 work life to become an independent consultant. One of the reasons for this was to have a more flexible schedule so I’d have more time for family. What I didn’t realize was how quickly my non-9-5, “open” and “flexible” schedule would fill up. I was always busy – working on projects, meeting potential partners, meeting clients, doing administrative work, researching, and on and on.
Last October, all of that changed. I was forced to reconfigure my life.
And what I realized was that this “automatic reset” gave me an opportunity to rethink my approach to work and life. Here are three lessons I learned.
We’re always busy. How much of our busy-ness is worthwhile – fruitful, productive? When you have to make quick decisions about urgent things, you’d be surprised how easily you can say, “nope, I can’t do it” and not feel badly about it.
Do you have to take every meeting, call or invitation? If you do, what's the most efficient way to handle them? Are you making and adhering to agendas, setting boundaries around your time and the scope of your commitments?
Even without a reset, we could all do with valuing our time more and committing to the activities and people who add value to our lives.
Stop Flying Solo. (I’m still working on this.)
The thing you’ve been pretending that you understand but you don’t. The support you need for yourself or a loved one but are too proud to ask for? Cut it out. What are you pretending you have a handle on but really need help with?
As I’m saying this to you, I’m saying it to myself; there are things I've labored over for days that were resolved within minutes of sending a text to folks who had the answer. I often wonder what a difference it would’ve made in my life if I more readily said, “I don’t know…but who does?”
Everyone needs support. It’s ok. Just ask.
Rest. (I’m working on this one too.)
My mother calls moments like these, “receiving an ounce of hush.” She means that, despite everything going on, life can hit the "mute" button for us. Nowadays, we’re more stretched, more “on,” more worried and juggling more things than ever before. But if we truly want to get through to the other side of our challenges healthy, whole and undamaged, we have to take care of ourselves – as a daily practice. A week-long vacation scheduled for six months from now is not going to cut it. All we have is today, this moment.
So you know what I take time to enjoy now? Baseball. Why? Because I get to watch it with my father who LOVES baseball. Even better, my mother who, after 50+ years of marriage and knowing and loving my father for all that time, is finally watching baseball too. My sister and I watch it with them. It has become our thing and it makes me feel good.
There are lots of ways you can take care of yourself. Don’t overthink it. What’s one small, loving thing you can do for yourself each day?
I learned so much from my "automatic reset." While everyone’s reset is unique, they often require skills and emotional strength that we didn't even know we had. Think of how resourceful you are when you’re trying to recover all the phone numbers or pictures you lost from your phone.
While we don't normally appreciate automatic resets, they give us a chance to tap into all the internal resources that we had forgotten about – or didn't even know we had.
Nariya Worrell is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. As a consultant, she provides program, staff and organizational development services to community-based businesses and organizations. She has a private therapy practice and is currently offering a group for women called Navigating Crossroads. She is also writing her first collection of short stories.