I love using erasable pens and highlighters. In fact, unless I’m signing a document or writing in my journal, erasable utensils are all that I use.
I realized my propensity for purchasing error-safe writing utensils a few years ago. Someone asked to borrow a pen, and I had to dig around in my purse for the one “non-erasable” pen in my arsenal. I’m sure the borrower thought I was being selfish by passing up my “favorite” pens on the way to grab a Plain Jane tube of ink for her to use. However, the simple fact is, I plan to mess up.
“I plan to mess up.”Dr. Asha
Recently, I invited my mom to drop by my podcast to discuss confidence, self-doubt, and Imposter Syndrome. Part of learning to trust yourself, she mentions, involves “teaching yourself from your mistakes”. The light bulb went off in my head.
I allow myself to make mistakes when taking notes and when writing in my planner. I even plan for mistakes by purchasing erasable materials! However, when it comes to my work and other public-facing commitments, I expect perfection. When I don’t meet this unrealistic mark, everything in my world—in my eyes—begins to crumble.
Now, here comes self-doubt, pointing out every poor decision, every mistake, and every step I must backtrack in order to get things on course. I get overwhelmed, burned out, and embarrassed because I have not left room for error.
In an effort to follow Mom’s advice and teach myself from my mistakes, I decided to take inventory of the habits that give me a little more wiggle room to mess up…
Plan for the pause. My dad actually taught me this one. Shout out to the parents for coming through with the wisdom today! Haha.
When my dad worked as a mid-level manager, he realized he really hated Mondays. Not only did it signal the onset of a new week full of the same ol’ problems, but it was the day everybody wanted to have meetings about meetings to kick off the busy-train for the next few days. He decided that he would have “no-meeting Mondays”. This would be his day to get things done and be productive at his own pace, without the stop and start of meetings and other interruptions. Many years ago, when I was in a similar position, he advised that I do the same thing.
While I have fallen off at times, I realized that when I am committed to my no-meeting day, everything else around it fell into place. It reminds me of David’s Psalm 16:6, NIV, “The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places…”
When I write in my planner (with those erasable utensils, of course), I am intentional to highlight this day. I don’t plan any meetings, and I reserve the space as a recovery day to finish-up tasks and tie loose ends. I may even end the workday early to rest, cook, or do something special. I plan for the pause.
“The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places…”Psalm 16:6, NIV
Do one less thing. I have a habit of getting dressed to go somewhere, but stopping to do one “quick” task (e.g. wash a couple of dishes, check my email, etc.) before heading out the door. Before I know it, being early or on time turns into running late. Now, I am rushing out the door and racing across town to stumble into a meeting in a panic! Why do I continue to do this?!
Lately, I have been coaching myself, “Do one less thing.” Sure, many of my meetings are on Zoom, but I don’t have to cram in tasks all the way up until it’s time to log in. (Because surely, the Internet will start acting funny, or I will misplace the login link, and I will be late.)
And, when I do leave the house for appointments, such as to teach class, I try to resist the temptation to respond to text messages “real quick.” I assure myself that, that the texts still be there when I get settled in the classroom, or—better yet— when class is over. I remind myself that waiting to read the texts until I have the time to respond to them, will keep me from having a bunch of text messages on “read” that never receive a reply, or that only get responded to in my head. (I can’t be the only one.) Doing one less thing before embarking upon an important assignment has invited more peace and contentment to enter even the simplest activities.
Take the extra step early. I know this sounds contrary to doing one less thing, but hear me out.
I can sit here and worry that my health insurance payment automatically debits from my account on the same exact day that my direct deposit hits. And I can waste time wondering if the direct deposit will post first, or if I am going to have to call the bank to ask for an insufficient funds charge to be refunded— which adds a few days of stressing, time waiting on the phone while the automated system finds me a live human being, explaining the issue to said live human being, and hoping to be awarded the refund. Ooooor, I can go ahead and transfer funds from my savings account to cover the insurance withdrawal (and a little more) to serve as a cushion to keep me off the edge.
That “extra” 60 seconds to log into my online account and process the transfer keeps the worry and stress from taking over my mind, draining my energy, and usurping my time later on. When you can take the extra step now that Future You will be thankful for, why not?
“When you can take the extra step now that Future You will be thankful for, why not?”Dr. Asha
Everything can’t be planned for, true. Some errors and oversights will inevitably occur. However, if we slow down the pace and are intentional about the present moment, we can provide our future selves with better options and better support. We can give ourselves space to make mistakes, and can we give ourselves space to grow from them.
Dr. Asha—speaker, educator, published author, and radio host—is aptly known as the Creator of Healthy Conversations. Her life purpose is to teach the busy and overwhelmed how to live life abundantly. She is an educational consultant and owner of the Temple Fit Company, LLC, and she is the director of Temple Fit Health, Inc. faith-based wellness nonprofit organization. Grab one of Dr. Asha’s recent books and book her for your upcoming program.