I run … a good bit. As a result, I’m a little thinner than Mamee would like. “You’ll never get rich!” she says, which is what 91-year-old Cajun grandmothers say to people who they believe live a life that is too fast.
This is something I hear a lot. You probably do too. “You walk too fast.” “You eat too fast.” “Your children are growing up too fast.” “Slow down!”
Why, thank you. I’d love to. What exactly should slow down? My cadence of steps as I hustle from meeting to meeting on the unforgiving, stiletto tip-ravaging sidewalks downtown? The speed of my minivan as I rush from work to dance to Girls on the Run back to dance and then to basketball?
Maybe the actual rate of growth of my children? “Put a brick on their heads!” (Another regular from the Cajun grandma book of one-liners.) Obviously, these are not great options. Well, not the brick, but maybe the minivan speed.
It really is just a matter of spending time on the important things (or people) and prioritization.
Another funny one. I know this to be true: Equal focus limits impact. I work for a consulting firm. I know all the “consultanty” things people preach about prioritization and time management. What I struggle with is determining what exactly constitutes a nonpriority? Work? Children? Clients or employees who act like children? Extended family? Community? What gets put on top of the nonpriority list? It’s you.
The self-care articles tell you that you should make time for girls’ trips, a week away with your spouse, or a soul-searching solo trip. They are all correct. However, if those are remotely in your grasp, they are few and far between. What most of us can conceivably squeeze in on a regular basis are tiny glimpses of this: a quick lunch with a friend, a good cup of coffee or glass of wine, a run.
So, I run.
The crunch, crunch, crunch of my shoes on the asphalt of the levy or the graveled edges of the lakes is like a mental massage. Sometimes when I’m too tired for that, I drink just a tiny bit of Maker’s Mark in my van with the lights off in my driveway. Maybe more than a tiny bit.
This is as slow as it’s going to get right now—ten minutes in the car or 30 minutes on a run. And maybe that’s enough, because right now is not the season of life for prioritizing you. Hard pill to swallow, but possibly and probably true.
Maybe the best we can do is to find these little moments and allow ourselves to fully indulge in them. Turn off your phone. Don’t think about the report that’s due or the infinity pool of laundry awaiting your return. Allow yourself the guiltless pleasure of prioritizing you for a few fleeting minutes and be present for every crunch.
Julie Laperouse is the director of training at Emergent Method, where she leads the firm’s training and development services, particularly those involving leadership development, supervisory skills, soft skills, team building and operational improvements. She is also author of the book “Are you a Screaming Peacock?”