Taking time for ourselves during times of change
It is important to take time for yourself, but I want to specifically touch on taking time for yourself for those in leadership positions. In a previous blog post, The Benefit to Slowing Down & Shaking Things Up, I touched on the benefits of slowing down amidst our fast-paced lives. I believe this concept of taking time for oneself pairs well with those concepts. The demands on us as leaders are endless, from scheduling to mentoring, to making tough calls. Both personally and professionally, it is essential that we take this seriously and recognize the impact it has on us and those around us.
I remember distinctly at about the 17-year mark of my career being at a crossroads. I had been given a series of options for what to do next. I found this to be quite daunting at the time and was not clear on what direction I should go. Should I start a whole new career? Engage in new opportunities in my current career? This often parallels middle age in one's personal life, I know it certainly did for mine.
There is no pause button for life. We can not stop time to take stock of what was, what could be, and what is important to us in the next phase of life. But we can intentionally slow down and carve out time for ourselves. We can do this by taking time away from work and spending time in a new-to-us environment, as I did during my ski trip to Banff, Alberta. We can delegate tasks, even just temporarily, to free up a bit of time to slow down and reflect. It can be hard to take a step back, especially when you’re use to the demands of a leadership role.
As I get older and gain more experience, I have come to notice unique, distinct stages of my life that, looking back, were significant. For example, my late twenties were a time of turmoil before I settled into my career and home life. I noticed this again twenty years later. During both of these times, I was dissatisfied with what was going on in my life and wondered if this is all there was. I was wondering what could be. I guess we call this a mid-life crisis!
Now that I am approaching sixty, I am beginning to notice this again. I’m wondering about what is next. I am definitely not alone in this journey. I do feel more excited during this stage of uncertainty than I did during my twenties, as I consider myself a success and I have made a contribution to my community.
We should mark, honour, and take time during these stages—during these moments of uncertainty and change. We should take time to reflect and plan for the next phase of our lives. I can't help but think that maybe we move too fast through life and don’t take the time to reflect on all that we have learned for ourselves and apply it skillfully to our lives. Slow down, take time for yourself, and reflect on your journey—both where you’ve been and where you’d like to go.