Sunday, January 13, 2013

Fuel up on Self-Care ...

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Racing from one business meeting to the next, I hopped in RU (aka, my trusty Subaru) and turned the key.  She roared to life, but diligently reminded me she was running low on fuel by flashing the warning light.  I groaned. I don't have time between appointments to fill up - hopefully "E" in this case means "Extra 10 miles"... Back at my office, I conducted a client session, a tele-call, and wrote session notes for both.  By the time I exited the building, the sun had set and the temperature had dropped at least 20 degrees.

Hopping in RU once again, I turned the key.  She protested.  It was too cold to start up on fumes.  I begged and pleaded with her, pumping the gas pedal frantically.  She whimpered and started, but she didn't like it.  "Please RU - just ONE mile, and I will fill your tank - I promise!".... and we limped along to the gas station where she promptly sputtered and died as I pulled up to the pump.  I stood shivering in the cold, lamenting that I should have filled up during the day when it was sunny and warm.  I realized that we entrepreneurs do this all too often -we get too busy for self care.  Things like eating, exercising, stretching, and spiritual practice get pushed aside so we can get to the next thing on our to-do list - when really, these things belong on our to-do lists, otherwise, we will just run out of gas, just like poor RU here.

How often do you run on empty?   How often do you push yourself just one more mile, one more task, one more thing to get done and I can rest?  How efficient are you when you are running on fumes? How do you feel when you push yourself - anxious? Frantic? Nervous?

"If you don't have time to do it right, when will you have the time to do it over?" John Wooden
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We run our days like Nascar drivers - as soon as the starting flag is waved, we are running 100 miles per hour.  How do professional race teams do it without running out of gas or breaking down?  Here are four racing tips to keep you on track:

1)  Get in the Groove  -Take a few moments to plot out the best route around the race track. Take out your calendar and block off time for meal planning, grocery shopping, walking, meditating.  Make a firm rule with yourself this time is not to get overscheduled with other activities.  These activities are just as important to your business as billable hours.  Without this time, there is no billable time - after all, its difficult to bill hours from a hospital bed.

2) Take a caution lap - Carve out 20 minutes in the morning to visualize and plan your day.  Now I know what you are thinking - "She's crazy, she's asking me to take a 20 minute time-out when I don't even have 10 minutes to take a shower most days."   I encourage you to try it... acknowledge the discomfort of changing pace, and practice stillness.  Visualize your day in your mind - see yourself being productive - see yourself checking things off your list - see yourself walking at noontime, eating a healthy lunch, and returning to productivity in the afternoon.  Review your daily calendar and make sure you have blocked time for self care. Without visualizing the track, your heading out blind.
"You must learn to be still in the midst of activity and to be vibrantly alive in repose.Indira Gandhi
 3) Don't just "splash and go"...  Yes, you are a busy entrepreneur. Yes, you are striving to achieve your goals.  Yes, you have a full plate.  However, you are also water, air, energy and Being.  Without properly nourishing your entire self, you will eventually not fire on all cylinders.  You will become unbalanced and inefficient.  If you ignore the air in your tires on your car, eventually they will run flat, no matter how full the fuel tank is.  Your car needs complete maintenance to run efficiently, as do you.  Make time for walks, breathing, fun and enjoyment, and make time to play. 

4)  Create your own "Pit Crew"   When racing full speed around the track, even Nascar drivers know the importance to pull off the track for maintenance, and they only take on average 15 seconds to get the driver back to the race.  When you have professionals such as a Chiropractor, a personal trainer, a massage therapist and a professional coach on your pit crew, you have a team that is professionally trained to keep you running at top speed, and they can get you back on track faster than you can on your own.  Imagine if the driver at Nascar jumped out of his car, fueled it, changed the tires and washed the windshield by himself - he'd be there forever! Be sure to schedule regular appointments with professionals that support your self-care goals.