The Deliciousness of Giving Yourself Permission

You know what I just did?

With deadlines and decisions looming, I shut my office door, stepped outside into the glorious sunshine of an 80o Austin day, enjoyed a drive with the top down, then took a long walk.

Back at my desk two hours later, I was refreshed and re-energized with refocused mental clarity, proving the truth of Jana Kingsford’s quote, “Balance is not something you find; it’s something you create.”

But how? What does that look like? Why was I able to give myself permission today when so many days I am unable to do so? What tricks, tips, and triggers can we use to be more successful in doing so. . . to, as Michelle Obama says, “. . . do a better job of putting ourselves high on our own ‘to do’ list.”

One of my Fizz clients talked about “taking her life back” from her job. She had hired two teenage girls to walk her dogs in the late afternoon when the girls got home from school, as she could not count on being home in time to do so herself. In completing the first section of her LifeMap™, she realized her job was running her. That realization led to one great tip:  setting boundaries. In this case, the boundary she established was leaving the office at a set time. That did not mean she would not work later in the evenings, but she gave herself permission to leave the office in time to enjoy walking her dogs and cease paying others to do a task that re-energized her, that brought her joy.

Our lives are like a fulcrum—a fancy word for a teeter totter—in so many ways. Physically, emotionally, spiritually, career-wise, mentally, and more. It is hard enough to stay balanced during “regular” times, whatever that means these days.  And it is even harder if we are experiencing a difficult life event. Add divorce, empty nesting, menopause, managing a pregnancy, losing or seeking a job, caring for elderly parents, or loss and the path to balance becomes even more cobbled.  That is when setting boundaries becomes extra critical.

In my many roles as a corporate executive, I used to hand out a list of “Teri-isms,” principles that I hoped would anchor the culture of my team. One of those was to cultivate serendipity: yes, it’s like catching rainbows, but we need to make room in our days for accidental discovery.  As I explained to my teams, “If we change our patterns, we increase the probability of running into an old friend or a new idea.” Our lives are often so regimented that we run on autopilot, missing beauty, inspiration, joy. Thus, let’s build the muscle of doing something out of the ordinary every now and then. Giving ourselves permission to eat dessert first or make coffee before we open the blinds can help us give ourselves permission under stress.

Whether we are entrepreneurs, retired, or have corporate careers, a support system is vital. At work, we can join forces with co-workers who can cover for us—and vice versa—when family conflicts arise. As solopreneurs, retirees, or stay at home moms, we can enlist trusted friends and loved ones to pitch in with childcare, errands, or household responsibilities when we need a break.

Ironically, another trick to creating balance is to volunteer. Research shows that volunteering to help others not only improves our connections with others, but also leads to better life satisfaction and lower psychological distress.

Today the weather is Austin is 180 degrees different than it was yesterday when I started this blog. The drizzly mist is telling me it is a good time to enjoy a delicious cup of hot tea—something I rarely do.  Maybe I’ll sit in a room in which I rarely sit and enjoy the view from a different window.  I hope you will join me in spirit!  And I also hope you’ll write to share any tips you may have for giving yourself permission.

By Teri Lucie Thompson
CEO & Co-Founder Find Your Fizz

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