A few years ago I found myself in the middle of a juggling act that would put Cirque du Soleil to shame. Between working full-time, restructuring my business, meeting with clients, meeting with potential ones, writing my second book, creating new resources for my community, and being a HUMAN, the hours, days, weeks, and months all seemed to blend together and I began to feel smothered under the weight of it all.
Once I found my daily habits slipping—the very things that made me me—and watched myself become increasingly bitter about the things I had willingly signed up for, I knew something had to change.
As you’re reading this, you might be in the same boat so here’s what I did that might help you, too:
I decided to revisit the way I approached things in and outside of my control.
I decided to be honest with myself about my capacity, limitations, and motivations.
I decided that I wanted more for myself....
And let me tell you—these decisions made all the difference.
Because while obligations and responsibilities might make it difficult (if not impossible) to up and quit, move, or upend the most stressful and demanding parts of our lives, here are two things we can all do to avoid burn out, make things a bit more manageable, and pour back into ourselves as we pour into the world around us.
1. Give yourself permission to pause.
“I won’t be bringing the fire hose.”
This is the reminder I give myself when it begins to feel like everything is an emergency because, despite what other people might have you believing, most things are NOT an emergency.
That email can wait.
That text can stay unread.
That meeting can be rescheduled.
In order to add some structure and objectivity to my life, I have decided that something can only be considered an emergency if it rises to the level of a building on fire… and if that were truly the case, I’m not a firefighter. So, I won’t be bringing the fire hose.
This personal philosophy has done wonders to help me manage how I spend my time, effort, and energy and it’s one of the ways I create boundaries for how others can access these parts of me.
Most things can wait.
And if something truly can’t, either I’m already attending to it with the time, effort, and energy it warrants, or there's surely someone else who can step up and step in.
Because again (and say it with me now) I won’t be bringing the fire hose.
2. Hold yourself accountable for keeping a full cup.
It’s so easy to move through the day with your head down and eyes on the prize, only to look up and realize that there was little to no time spent on anything that was useful to you…
Anything that made you smile.
Anything that made you feel stretched.
Anything that made you feel alive.
And it's even more striking to realize that when there was a brief moment of reprieve—five minutes here, 15 minutes there—you defaulted to something that had little to no meaning, something that only served as a distraction from the monotony you're trying to escape...
To mitigate this, I came up with a You Menu (or, as some TikTok commenters quipped when I shared this with them, a MenYOU).
To create this MenYOU, make a list of activities that you enjoy doing, things that light and fill you up.
Once you have your list, sort each thing into categories of 5 minutes, 15 minutes, 30 minutes, and an hour based on how long they take.
The idea is that when you find yourself with that amount of time throughout the day—5 minutes here, 30 minutes there—rather than defaulting to your usual distractions, you can go to your list, pull something you enjoy doing, and give yourself that space, that time, and that gift of joy, relaxation, and intention.
Now of course there are some rules to this:
The things on this list have to primarily benefit you. While other people will benefit by default since you’ll become a more relaxed, aligned, fulfilled version of yourself, YOU are the primary focus of this list—the point is to pour into and replenish yourself.
The things on this list cannot be business/work-related. This means it can’t just be a copy of your to do list or filled with things typically considered “productive.” Again, this is for you to replenish yourself and to tap into the BEING side of being a human being.
Not sure where to start? Here are some examples:
In five minutes you could:
sit in silence so you can hear yourself think
watch a funny TikTok or IG reel (social media isn’t completely off limits if you don’t want it to be!)
drink some water
In 15 minutes you could:
listen to your favorite song three times in a row (and possibly annoy your neighbors as you sing along)
slowly make and savor a cup of tea or coffee
take a walk or just go outside to feel the sunshine on your face
In 30 minutes you could:
read a few chapters of a book or listen to a quick podcast
do a workout routine from YouTube
try a new recipe
In a hour you could:
take a nap
watch an episode or two of your favorite show
catch up with that friend you keep meaning to catch up with
The list is truly endless and it there is no “right” or “wrong” answer or specific things that should be on it, so take some time to think about what makes YOU feel good, rested, and fulfilled and allow yourself to fold these things into your life as often as possible, not just “when you have time”... Because it’s your responsibility to create and protect the life you want to live—and that includes cherishing yourself each step along the way so that you can actually be yourself when you "make it."
If you want some more personalized support with balancing the different things on your plate, then let’s talk. Book a free consultation with me to discuss my 1:1 programs and how you and I can work together.