When EB and I were trekking in Nepal in 2008, our group hit some tough spots. But our sherpas would just smile and say ‘bistaarai, bistaarai‘ – go slowly and carefully.
That’s not bad advice as we all charge headlong into another year, armed with resolutions that usually involve losing x kilograms, spending more time with people we love, and doing more meaningful stuff with our lives (more travel springs to mind).
Bistaarai, bistaarai… go slowly, or you’ll be dumping resolutions as quickly as you made them.
Look at the losing weight scenario. It might have taken me ten years to gain those (undisclosed!) extra kilos, but I want them off in ten weeks. Talk about setting myself up for being a loser – and not in the intended way.
Long term weight loss takes time…and so does changing those stressed-out habits. It’s also pretty impossible to fit in time to hang out with the people you love, get more exercise, chill out, and get away more often, without making some space in your diary.
It’s a lot easier when you remember who controls your diary (um, you do).
Here’s some quick tips to help you slow down to an easy pace, work smarter – and have more time to keep those easy-to-make, easy-to-break New Year’s Resolutions.
- Exercise. The first thing you put in your diary every week is when you’ll exercise. Because exercise gives you the energy and a sense of wellbeing that helps you deal with everything else.
Be realistic. Put six things (max!) a day on your to-do list. Get done what you can do, and the things you can’t get to either don’t matter enough, or go to the top of the next day’s list.
Start the day right…with a decent breakfast and at least 15 minutes ‘chill’ time. That might mean sitting doing nothing, reading, wandering through your garden – or someone else’s (slightly more tricky). The important thing is to allow yourself to do nothing – which is the tough bit.
Back to the diary… schedule in blocks of ‘project work’ time where you don’t answer phones or emails. And when someone says they want to meet with you, give them two or three options, not ‘whenever it suits you’ (aka valuing your time and you).
Say no to 24:7 availability. That means not always having your techie things in your hip pocket, checking and answering emails as soon as they arrive, or having your office door/space ‘open’. People can and will wait. Really. Which leads to…
Stop driving the emergency response vehicle. Let others take some responsibility for their own stuff. If you’re always rushing to meet their needs or taking up the slack, you’re teaching them to be dependant and incapable. Remember this one? Lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine…
Handle stuff once… from paperwork to emails. Process, file, chuck/delete. That’s it. It will unclutter your desk, your inbox, your house and your mind.
Delegate. You don’t have to be the master of everything. If you’ve got the resources, use them. If you haven’t, get them.
Breathe. No, it’s not an optional extra and we do forget to do it. You can usually tell you’re not breathing properly when your shoulders are creeping up around your ears (blue lips are also a sign). When the stress gets to you, stop, drop your shoulders and take a deep, deep breath…then let it out slowly, slowly.
Whisper it, shout it, but say it over and over: Bistaarai, bistaarai. Slowly, slowly…
First published on my Dragonfly Ink blog in January 2009