The visual image I see in my head was a car. I was driving. Pass a series of junctions, into a long dark tunnel, and coming to a stop eventually. But what I actually went through is something far more mundane. And nothing to do with driving. I was working late, rushing out some map because I will be on leave the next day, and missed the chance of being present at an event I that wanted to go to. And as much as I want to say that stopping the car felt awesome (because that was what I focused on), it wasn’t. I emerged energy depleted, in need of rest, no longer capable of meeting the needs of my own, let alone others.
The week had started out quite differently. I had a few friends asking me if I was available to assist in some events, all focused in the areas of personal growth.
I promised a lady friend that I would support her in an event on Saturday afternoon. There was some mis-communication along the way, but I realised eventually that there would be a pre-event alignment meeting for the team on Thursday evening. The timing clashed with the other event I wanted to go support. I had volunteered to support in curating their future events, and really wanted to be there. I can’t really explain why but volunteering for this other event felt like a personal bucket list kind of thing. So, rather reluctantly, I said I couldn’t make it for the team meeting (and hence, couldn’t support the friend in her Saturday event also).
So, I had every intention to go for this other event. It starts 7pm and ends 10pm, or so I had registered it in my calendar.
There-in lies the first fault line – my thinking that since the event is 3hrs long, I can miss the first bit and still manage to attend a large portion of the event. My rationale was I was rushing to complete work and I could finish in the next 10-30 mins anyway. The rush was because the work needed to be done by Friday, and I took my Fridays off. I planned nothing concrete really for Friday but I was determined not to work on my off day (a side-effect of having worked without rest days for 3 weeks that did have a couple of public holidays in between).
There were bus shuttles from the office building till 7pm. I missed all of them. I saw my team mates leaving, but didn’t follow them.
A friend who was attending the event messaged me. She wanted to save me a seat. Within a few minutes, the seat was taken for she didn’t know when I would arrive.
By 8.30pm or earlier. I replied eventually. I was almost done! I knew I could make it.
9pm. Emails sent. Shutting down computers… The work was complete for the day even though it was not perfect. If I tried to perfect the results, it will be midnight before I left the office!
Then came a message from my friend. The event was over, and the crowd needed to clear out by 9.30pm.
I felt really deflated when I realised I missed the event I really wanted to go to. I was exhausted already from working and staring at the screen all day, but emotionally I was sinking too…
I saw how my choices, or rather the lack of making a self-empowering one, led to how things ended up. On the surface, I was delivering results on time, so that my colleagues can follow up on it when I am away. At a deeper level, I was neglecting accountability to myself. The things I feel are important fall alongside when work comes along – even though in the last couple of years, work is no longer the number 1 priority in my life. Or has it returned to what it was before? The state before I embarked on my personal growth journey?
The tunnel vision of simply seeing only 1 route ahead (completing work and then going to the event) meant that I didn’t stop to think clearly, and couldn’t see how else I could have delivered results at work, and still be able to attend 1 or both events that I felt are important to me.
I saw, only after all this, that I could have folded all 3 together.
- take the 5.15pm bus shuttle
- attend 1st event till 8.20pm latest
- attend 2nd event till 10.20pm latest (this require some pre-planning, but can be done if I had a strong intention, and was really internally motivated with a strong belief that I could and want to do so)
- wake up early on Friday
- work for a couple of hours or even less
- enjoy the rest of Friday!
I feel that I keep facing this dilemma on how to meet the demands of work, personal space and growth on a regular basis nowadays.
The experiences we have in life keep repeating itself in patterns – until we learn the lesson they bring, integrate it in who we are and what we do, and move on.
So, apparently I had not learnt the lesson well. Rather than to live in fear that the lesson will swing by again unannounced, here are some little reminders for myself and anyone interested:
– quiet space for clarity in thinking, and being open to possibilities (apart from what I already see as “truth”)
– pen down the list of things that are important to me
– how it is important to me that I focus time and energy on them?
– what are the potential conflicts that can come up in trying to focus on them at the same time?
– how can I create an environment that is conducive for meeting the needs of the top 3 items on my list?