- Importance of sharpening the saw
- Obstacles that keep us from taking time for ourselves
- Evaluate what to do to recharge
- Fitting it in your schedule
Before any airline takes off, the stewardess goes over some safety instructions with all the passengers telling them what to do in case of an emergency. One instruction they give is if the air pressure in the plane drops, air masks will drop from the ceiling above them. Each passenger is instructed to first, put the mask on themselves, and then second, assist any children or elderly near them with their air mask. The analogy of this is that we need to take care of ourselves first, or we will not be any good to those around us.
Importance of Sharpening the Saw
Stephen Covey tells the story of a man cutting down a tree with a dull saw. He was working, working, working but not making much progress. He knew his saw was dull and needed to be sharpened, but he didn’t want to stop to take care of that, afraid of the time he’d lose when he stopped. In reality, though, he would have been much more efficient in the long run if he had taken some time to sharpen his saw, which would enable him to work quicker and more efficient with the improved tool.
People are similar. If we don’t take the time to recharge our batteries, then we aren’t going to be as effective as a parent, as a spouse, as an employee.
Obstacles that keep us from sharpening the saw
- Guilt: It’s common for women to feel guilty when they aren’t there all the time for their loved ones.
- Time: Lack of time is probably the most common obstacle keeping people from making time for recharging.
- Stage: Different stages of life have different time commitments.
Amy tells a story of when years ago she and Dave went on a date to Barnes and Noble bookstore and Dave went from one section to the next looking up books he was interested in. Amy was in a stage of life where all her time and attention was consumed with mothering several little children, so as she stood there in Barnes and Noble, with the time to finally read a book of her interests, she couldn’t think of anything she wanted to read. It was then that she realized she needed to refine who she was, what made her happy, and what interests brought her joy.
- Support: Some find it hard to get away when there is no support to cover for them while they are taking a break.
- Logistics: Finding a place to enjoy the hobby of your choice
Evaluate what brings you joy
Look back at the times when you were happiest and think what you enjoyed doing at that time. Think back also to what you enjoyed doing as a kid.
Small – what do you enjoy doing by yourself? Reading, singing, playing a musical instrument, walking. Just start little and the momentum will carry you on the process to recharging.
Bigger – what do you enjoy doing with others? Many programs in the community like at the local library, rec center or community college offer classes like painting, photography, programming, weights or exercise classes.
If you can’t find classes offered, you could start one in your neighborhood, like teaching others about health or start a book club. You could start a walking group or playdates with children.
MarriageBuilders.com has a questionnaire on their website that lists over 100 suggested activities, that you can rate on how much you enjoy doing those activities, and how much you don’t enjoy them. Anyway, lists like this might help you come up with ideas of what you really enjoy doing.
Share what you love with your family members too.
What can you do for yourself if you only have 10-15 minutes?
What would you do if you had an hour?
What would you do if you had an evening?
What would you do if you had a weekend?
Amy is selective with those she spends her recharging battery time with. She prefers to be with people who are positive and pleasant, not negative and depressing.
Dave enjoys spending time with guys who have the same interests as he does, which he has found at the corner game store.
Try to support each other knowing that this break makes you each a better spouse or parent.
Dave and Amy have their own circle of friends with whom they recharge with. They have common friends they enjoy together. And they have times set aside for just the two of them to connect with each other.
Guilt: Keep perspective that what you are doing for yourself is not only good for you but for everyone else around you.
Time: Eliminate the less important time-consuming activities to fit in the most important commitments. Putting it on your schedule will make it more likely to happen than if you just hope it happens.
Stage of Life: Realize that stages come and go and be flexible. But don’t give up when life is busy. Keep working at sharpening your saw in every stage, so that you can pass through that stage at your very best. Don’t wait till you are old and retired to do things you enjoy.
Support: Trade with others that you trust and enjoy. You could ask family members, neighbors, friends… Offer to return the favor for them.
This weeks image is “low battery” by Martin Abegglen. It can be found at https://www.flickr.com/photos/twicepix/6997580445
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