Time and Space
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Time and Space – Finding it, why it might be important and what YOU are going to do with it!
On Monday I just needed to get out! I now recognise when I’m getting like this because I can’t think straight. The Inbox pings, our children are asking things, I’ve got calls, messages, notifications and opportunities coming in and I can’t do it!
What I mean is, I can’t see the capacity, the space, the chance to make these things work, because I don’t see the time around them.
About 6 months ago, in a session with my Solution Focused Therapist, the amazing Angie Hayes (based down in Weston Super Mare), Ange asked me when I felt most confident in myself, my decision making, my every-day thoughts and actions. Almost without hesitation, I answered “When I’ve got time and space”. I even surprised myself in that moment of razor-sharp clarity. Where did that answer come from?!
On reflection the truth of it is exactly that. I am a reflective thinker. I weigh everything up, analyse the options, and reflect on what the potential outcomes of each may be; outcomes and consequences. Now as a serial (and hopefully recovering) people pleaser, this doesn’t always go in my favour. Sometimes I am crippled with the anxiety of letting people down or not doing what I believe is expected of me. But in the main, when given time and space, I can see my path ahead and then be confident I am making the right decisions for all the right reasons. Moreover, I have also learned, through trauma and tragedy, that I am also capable of dealing with the consequences even if these decisions prove not to be the best ones or work out the way I expected them to!
Why do I think this is a topic relevant and hopefully useful to share with you today? Well, it’s a brilliant question for starters! When do YOU feel most confident in your decision making, your abilities, your day to day activities and determining the outcomes?
The other powerful thing for me was realising that, when I find myself without the precious ‘time and space’ I had identified, I am pushed from a calm responsive state to a stressed and reactive state. This is where I question everything, my imposter syndrome is screaming at me and all the little voices of self-doubt, self-criticism and the voices of other people giving me ‘feedback’ or dishing out the advice I maybe have, or more often haven’t asked for, increase in their volume to deafening levels.
Reality check time! There were also times when, having organised and structured my life brilliantly, or so I thought, around our blended family of 4 kids, a dog, 2 houses in 2 different countries and 3 businesses between us, I had filled every scrap of time and space in my life and just got lost in it all!
I could look at my beautifully colour-coded diary and see where Adam, Will, George, even Adam’s children Eti and Gabe needed to be, doing what, with what, when and where. I could see when I was seeing clients in the private practice, my corporate partnerships and workshop or speaking events, my walking groups, studying time, all beautifully organised and cross referenced with both my paper and electronic diaries and the family calendar.
But the other thing that became clear was that the reiki, the meditation, the yoga, the things that I love to do to look after myself and top myself up, were being squeezed in around everything else. I was trying to fit myself into my own life around clients, family, teatime, washing, shopping, walking the dog, and building our new lives together.
No time, no space, so no wonder I was doubting doing a decent job of any of it!
So if I asked you the same question, what would you say you need to be absolutely on your A-game? Is there any capacity for that in your life at the moment?
This question process literally stopped me in my tracks. We have all heard of the “No list”. It probably sounds cliched and idealistic but the truth of it is this…every time you are saying YES to something that doesn’t fit in with what you really need, you are taking from yourself and those you love most, to give to something or someone that may very well not appreciate it and probably won’t serve you in the long run. Boom – there it is!
Now hold on, I know what you might be thinking and yes, we all need to find compromise to some acceptable level, I appreciate that, but life really IS about finding balance. Yes, our clients need us to step up, to perform, to meet deadlines, to find solutions. But if you are being forced into a stressed and reactive state, are you answering with your wisest and clearest head? If one of your team needs you to support them or you need to task a colleague to complete a delegated piece of work and you need some action/progress on it and collaborative work to move forwards constructively, are you best having that conversation from a calm and responsive place or in a stressed, potentially snappy, impatient and reactive place?
Some of us believe we work better under stress and this is absolutely true for some. It gives us ‘the edge’, more focus, a new drive to succeed. This is actually really common, but so is the culture of expectation that we can all step up to perform like this when we need to. The opposite is actually true for many. Likewise, if members of your team thrive on that ‘edge’ and you are only operating at a calm, steady pace, this could well frustrate the hell out of them! So this is a conversation worth having with your workmates and colleagues as well as some time for self-reflection perhaps.
I created time and space in my week and in my life by stripping everything back; looking at the immovables, the commitments we all had and what I could consolidate in specific days, time slots, and how I could free up space around everyone and everything else. This was actually a lot simpler than I thought and a process that I’m happy to share with any of you in or next session together (or indeed your first session if we have yet to work together!)
After Lockdown, I had not taken the time even to rejig my diary slots around travel time to and from sessions, so creating that ‘time and space’ was really simple. Asking for help from my children, my partner, reaffirming some ‘loose’ boundaries with some clients, altering the nights and times of my evening clinics to make sure I wasn’t fitting in being Mum! Everything was do-able, even if I did have the odd fleeting worry of ‘how might this affect other people’? The truth was, it probably wasn’t going to have the same detrimental effect it had been having on me! Now Adam and I can spend our Mondays together, wind down our Fridays earlier in the afternoon and find time to do the things that keep us both topped up so we can be our BEST for family, friends, clients, ourselves AND each other.
But on Monday, yep, I had one of those days. We are in the throws of Wedding planning, have 3 teenagers and 1 pre-teen with growing commitments and busy social lives, two of whom are just back from trips to Paris, one due to go to a residential camp with school and a trip to Korea in the offing for another, just 2 weeks after we get married. Our two eldest are both in the midst of new weekend jobs, GCSEs and mock exams beckon and work for both me and my partner is demanding…because we both work as coaches with a wide variety of people and their really broad sets of needs – something we love about the work we do! There are decisions to be made at the moment every way we turn, which is cool, because we are really excited about work, family and the upcoming wedding, but there hasn’t felt like a lot of my precious ‘time and space’ amongst all this schizzle!
Recognition of that is the key. When I can’t make a decision, when I worry about what will work for everyone else and forget what I need in that mix, that is when I now realise I need to hit the PAUSE button. I have to create the time and space. That is MY responsibility.
So that’s what I did. I booked tickets to visit the beautiful Rococo gardens in Painswick (highly recommend that as a trip out). I packed my boots, my coat, Lottie’s crate and lead in the car and we drove up to sunnier Gloucestershire skies and some space – a NEW space - to clear my head and reflect. A few hours later we were home, acting on decisions made, following up wedding stuff, client opportunities and seeing progress all round.
So, what do YOU need?
If, like me, it’s ‘time and space’ to reflect and make your best decisions, how can YOU make that happen? Where is your capacity? And what are you going to DO with that time and space once you make it?
If you need help working any of this out, get in touch and let’s work it out together.
There is ALWAYS a way.
Rebecca Lightfoot is a Wellbeing Coach and the Founder of Tip the Balance – Natural Wellbeing (www.tipthebalance.life).
She is available to support with any aspect of our wellbeing needs. What might be causing a disturbance in your force?! What is affecting your ability to focus, feel positive, energised and ‘on purpose’?
In the event you need support, her online diary can be accessed via www.calendly.com/tipthebalance/1-to-1