Take It Easy, But Take It

You read all the books and attend all the presentations. You know hundreds of “Time Management” tips and tricks. You “eat the frog”, stick to your “default schedule”, et cetera. There are so many tidbits of advice that you are overwhelmed trying to apply them.

You have figured out that we all have a fixed number of hours during the day, so now you are managing your “self” rather than “time”. You have an energy-producing diet and exercise regime to support your regimented work hours. You even have hours dedicated to having “quality time” with your loved ones.

And then, periodically, the whole thing collapses in a belly-flop of self-recrimination. “I’m tired of this,” you declare. Then you call yourself a slouch. Now it is time to list your faults and admit that you will never amount to anything. By this point your determined plan to manage your time has gone from being a day-to-day program of excellence to the evidence of your weakness and failure that you cannot sweep under the carpet.

Now you sit there by the side of the track hanging upside down, held there by your seat belt in the crashed wreckage of your self-discipline, while all the other race cars zoom by.
Hold on there. What if your knowledge, planning, and execution were all fine…except for one missing ingredient? What if adding that one thing into the mix will get you across the finish line first, over and over?

The facts are that you have a great race car, the best crew, and you are a fantastic driver. You just forgot to change your oil every 3,000 miles. Then, when you revved your engine and hit your stride at high speed, all those metal parts got to grinding and shearing.

So what’s this human oil that we need?

Self-compassion, that’s what. We are notoriously harder on ourselves than on others. If we treated our team like we treat ourselves they would walk. But where are we to go to flee the lash of our inner disciplinarian? Bad moods, long stretches of low productivity, substance abuse, you name it – none of these are places where you recharge in gratitude and contentment.
In “Go Easy on Yourself, a New Wave of Research Urges,“ Tara Parker-Pope explains that the “…biggest reason people aren’t more self-compassionate is that they are afraid they’ll become self-indulgent… They believe self-criticism is what keeps them in line…our culture says being hard on yourself is the way to be.”

Any coach will tell you that is good advice for a sprinter, but terrible advice for a long-distance runner and your business is a marathon, not a sprint. So don’t be too hard on yourself. While self-criticism can be helpful in small doses, appreciate who you are and the work you do and you’ll find yourself getting more and more done.

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