Driving to work on Monday, I noticed blue and red flashing lights ahead of us. The traffic slowed down and gradually ground to a halt so we turned around and found another way into the city.
As we carried on our journey, I noticed how I had had a physical reaction to seeing those emergency lights. My heart rate had increased, my breathing become shallower and my anxiety levels rose. I haven’t had a bad personal experience with the emergency services so that’s not what triggered the reaction: I guess it was just down to knowing that something nasty had occurred and, in a flash, my imagination had drawn me into the situation.
For most of us, this is a really busy time of year. Our diaries are stuffed, our wallets are stretched, our external and internal resources are perhaps becoming a little depleted. Some people love the craziness of the festive season – for others, they react a a little like I did to those flashing lights. One of my clients, Matt, told me that he was feeling rather strung out when I saw him last week and so we talked about what it was in particular that was causing that reaction.
We discovered that he found himself drawn into other people’s dramas or getting caught up with issues he couldn’t control. We looked at situations in which he noticed that uncomfortable physical reaction to the environment – like me and those emergency services lights – and how he could remove himself from them. Then we went back to his list of core values so Matt could remind himself what really matters to him and therefore what he wanted to ensure he carved out time to do. Lastly, we grabbed a big sheet of paper and created a calendar grid for the next few weeks. We added the non-negotiables which included work projects and a couple of work events, his children’s school nativity plays, and some family events but also some time at the gym and some free time; he made some decisions on some diary clashes, and then we added in a couple of ‘like to do’ events.
By the end of the session, he had a giant calendar, the original of which has pride of place on the fridge door at home, a photo of which is his desktop wallpaper and the information from which has been transferred to his online calendar. Matt saw those warning lights alerting him to a problem on his route, recognised he needed to take action, made a plan and is taking steps to find a less stressful route through the next few weeks.
Today’s pebble for you to ponder:
Are there any warning lights at work or at home you are noticing at the moment? What is your plan to deal with them?
Turning over pebbles is the blog of Thinking Space Coaching.
If you’d like to take action and create positive change in your work and life, why not email me to see how we could work together?