Back to work
It was 2015, I had just returned to work after my 2nd maternity leave and I’d taken on the grant writing of a massive EU consortium as the lead project coordinator.
Mark came into the computer room, “If you want to stay up late working, it’s your choice you know.”
Easy for him to say. He goes to work, does his job and leaves work and then relaxes. It was so rare that he would ever work at home that it was significantly noticeable when he did.
I didn’t feel like I had a choice at all.
I used to think that he just didn’t care about his work as much as I did. But I was wrong.
“You know Hannah, the more work you do. The more work they give you.”
I think what he meant by that was, the more you take on the higher the expectation that you will deliver. There’s no question around what you currently have on your plate already or a discussion about what has the greatest priority at that time.
An expectation that it will ALL get done…somehow.
But the reality of that “somehow” was working evenings, weekends my brain constantly in problem solving and thinking mode. There was no down time.
It was the same for my client this week.
Am I worthy enough?
My client has been struggling to take a break during the day. She worried that taking 30 minutes to get away from her desk, eat her lunch and do a short meditation was a luxury that was “nice to have.”
She worried that taking the time out would reflect badly on her and that meditation and self-time should be kept to personal time. The only problem was that at the end of a very long day, she couldn’t find the energy to stay awake during a meditation.
This wasn’t a new feeling. When revising for her A-Level exams, she felt the same way. If she had taken a break, and not got the results she was looking for, it would be down to the fact that she had not worked hard enough.
There was a time earlier in childhood when she hadn’t felt this way because “there were no pressures or expectations when I was 5 years old.”
Is there anyone you know that takes time for themselves during the working day?
What does Gemma believe about herself?
“That she is worthy of taking that time. That she is a priority and that work is not life or death, everything isn’t urgent.”
What are the consequence of you operating this way?
“It’s a cycle of stress that makes me feel more anxious and I’m unable to think or make decisions clearly because my brain is so overloaded. I’m worried that if I take the time, I won’t get everything done and everything will get out of control.”
What could you believe instead?
“That I am worthy enough.”
What would happen if you believed that?
“I would make myself a priority.”
We then put together an implementation plan. Time blocking and accountability for 30 minutes of self-time a day. By scheduling it, she was setting it as a priority.
Knowing that I will be asking her about how the implementation has gone in the next session, keeps her accountable in the first stage where forming a new habit is hard.
You as a priority
I used to think Mark didn’t care enough about work and that’s why he would come home and relax, go swimming and have the time to go for big bike rides at the weekends. What he was actually doing was prioritising his own basic needs.
Instead of feeling resentful that he gets all this nice time to enjoy himself, while I martyr in the background (which is how I used to feel). I now see him as a role model. Someone who values himself enough to make his needs a priority.
Opposites attract (so they say)
We often marry people who are the direct opposite of us. In our case this is true. They say that we are attracted to our opposites because they have something that we are missing, something that is attractive to us. That these people can be our biggest teachers. If we will allow it.
Study your partner closely.
What rituals do they have when they walk through the door?
How do they transition between work and home?
Hit reply, I’d love to hear what you discover.
PS Struggling with the lack of stability in your career? Join my January 5 Day Challenge, “Kickstart Your Decade: Plan Your Life’s Work” here. Leave with a clear roadmap for your life’s work.