In a time of 24/7 connectedness, of constant communication and never-ending information, a time where workaholism is glorified and being “busy” is a badge of honor (I have to admit being guilty of all of these at least sometimes), it is helpful to be reminded that life is more enjoyable with breathing room. I was reminded of this yesterday.
While I am not typically one to watch anything having any religious affiliation (regardless of the religion expressed), I watched this series prepared by Andy Stanley of North Point Church in Georgia, and it resonated with me.
Even by my standard, my schedule feels claustrophobic at times (like the beginning of the first part of the series)… Stanley is here to tell us that we need breathing room in our schedules, our relationships, and our finances. Life is better with breathing room, which gives us time to talk over dinner, extra $ at the end of the month, the ability to focus, and ability to enjoy all that we do. Stanley defines breathing room in a most compelling way: “Breathing room is the space between our current pace and our limits.” Our limits will differ from those of our neighbor, based on our capacity. But even the person with the greatest capacity has limits. And living life at our limits will make life much harder to enjoy.
When we don’t have breathing room, our stress levels go up; our focus narrows (we only focus on the minimal margin area and lose vision of the greater picture); our relationships suffer. Yet we continue to live near our limits.
Why? Stanley answers: “Because of fear.” Fear of missing out. Fear of falling behind (the comparison trap), and fear of not mattering. Indeed, “our fear of not mattering ends up drawing us away from what matters most.”
I am determined to increase my breathing room. To not over-schedule myself. To disconnect. I have said all of this before, although perhaps not in these exact words. Tonight I am re-committing to this endeavor.
To make more breathing room, I am going to (try to) say “no” more often, with kindness and grace of course. I will say “yes” to growth and “no” to noise. I will look at everything I do and question what my priorities are, and why they are priorities. I will plan my weeks better, remembering that great planning and great preparation lead to great execution. I will stop to smell the roses (not while on the phone).
Coco Chanel once said: “Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and remove one accessory.” My Mom applied this same concept to time management and once told me: “Before you start your week, look at your calendar and cancel something non-essential.” As always, Mom was right.