I’m currently in a time-out. But to write this article about time-outs, I’m going to have to take a time-out from my time-out. Then, I’m going back to my time-out.
Is that “Who’s on first” enough for ya?
As a kid, I viewed time-outs as the absolute worst! Of course, I wasn’t giving myself time-outs. Some well meaning adult was and I didn’t like it one bit.
Now, I’m all about time-outs. Time-outs are breaks from what isn’t working. To create some space, ideally gain some clarity, and emerge refreshed, inspired, and ready to conquer.
I’ve had a busy year. Probably a busy few years. Really a busy life. There always seems to be WAY more to do than is humanly (or inhumanly even) possible. Yet, I just know there’s a superhero somewhere inside of me and I’ll magically be able to do it all. I have yet to actually encounter this superhero, but I keep the faith.
What even is “it all?” I was tempted to list off everything that would encompass “it all” for me, but that thought in and of itself was overwhelming. Plus I doubt very interesting to anyone else. “It all” is simply that long list of everything we want to fit into our lives. You all know what I mean.
Around Thanksgiving, I found myself nearing a breaking point due to “it all.” There were some intense and time consuming situations with clients, new business opportunities, everyone I knew seemed to want something from me, and self-care… what self-care? I had nothing left to give. My mind was mostly fog. It seemed like everything had to be done at once and I couldn’t figure out what to cut out.
My urge was to take the ultimate time-out. Quit everything and go into hiding on some remote island where my only company was a volleyball. Luckily, I had some sense still intact so I made small, temporary cuts instead, only doing the things that were absolutely necessary.
I battled some guilt around this.
Every year I yearn to be better at sending those suckers out. And every year it’s December 21st and yep, no Christmas cards. I even set a calendar reminder this year for sometime in October and it crept further and further down the to-do list. Because, did Christmas cards feed me? Did they bathe me? Did they support my business? Maybe to that last one. If I sent them to the right people. But I haven’t. So I’m working on making peace with that.
This morning I saw my last client until the new year (For the most part.). I have no business meetings set up until 2019. There are other to-dos, but I think I’m about to just say eff it so the ultimate time out can begin. I guess that’s technically called vacation. But I really like the term time-out.
So what makes a time-out, a time-out?
To start with, it’s the minimum necessary to survive. I highly suggest sleeping, eating, and drinking. Water, lots of water.
Say no. Whether it’s work. Or parties. Family gatherings. 5ks. If it doesn’t make your heart sing, don’t you dare do it. If it causes you stress, run. Far, far away.
Step away from the laptop. Desktop. Smart phone. Tablet. Any other electronics I don’t know the names of. Set that “I’m in a time out” automatic email response. Do whatever you have to do to minimize infringement upon your precious time.
Within reason. If you have children, make sure you also feed, water, and rest them too. Jail isn’t a fun place this time of year. And if you have important others in your life, pay them a bit of attention too so they don’t bounce on you. That’d probably cause you more stress. Or not…
Once the basic needs are handled, it’s time for the fun stuff. Those things you haven’t had enough time to do, but that truly feed your soul. The things that inspire you. That give you energy and meaning to your life. Whatever they are, do them. As much as you can.
For me I want to travel. Surf. Snowboard. Run. Yoga. Hike. Read. Write. Paint. Meditate. Organize. Dream and plan next steps with wild abandonment. Spend quality time with the best people on earth. Cuddle with this insanely adorable dog currently snoring at my feet. Cook. Okay, I’ll stop there. It’s impossible for me not to create neverending “to-do” lists, but at least my time-out list is more “want to dos” than “have to dos.”
The moral of the story is that time-outs aren’t just for kids anymore. They’re for us grownups when we realize we aren’t behaving in ways that allow us to live our best lives. Time-outs are necessary for survival. There are far too many demands for our time and it can be easy to get caught up in them if we aren’t being mindful. Mindlessly navigating life leads to stress, exhaustion, burnout, depression. Time outs bring us back to the present. They slow us down and give us the space to create and allow. To observe and participate in this wonderful show of life. To rest and rejuvenate.
Okay, so that was my cheesy (and incredibly truthful) pep talk, which is the sign that I need to wrap this up and start my end of 2018 time-out with a solid nap. I hope you all will take some time out for yourself as 2018 winds down.