Remember that Beatles song, “8 Days a Week?” It’s a love song, if you recall, about someone loving someone so much that his feelings leak out beyond the confines of time itself.
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What a nice idea! If you were faced with the actual option of an 8th day every week, would you use it to get more things done, cross more off your list and achieve the next promotion at work, or would you dedicate it to yourself, and to love?
Ponder the following situation, based on plenty of “true” stories I’ve heard, but generalized into one hypothetical anecdote:
Today is the day. You are at work, basking in the glory of your latest achievement. You just closed a big deal that you’ve been working on for six weeks. Or you finished a report, a mock-up, a proposal that has consumed you. Or you just got out of a meeting and you owned it. So naturally, you are thinking about celebrating with your main squeeze. Before calling him (or her) to make a date, you check your voice mail. That’s right (you slap your forehead)! He (or she) called two days ago and you never had time to even listen to the message. Wow, has it really been 10 days since you were together? You finally play the message, eager to hear the voice you love purring in your ear. Then you hear it: “We gotta talk.”
“Oh boy,” you think. “What did I do wrong?” Turns out you have to meet “in person” and “the sooner the better.” You feel uneasy but are still completely blind-sided when you meet up that evening and hear: “I’ve decided not to see you anymore. You clearly do not have time to give to a relationship.”
Wow, what just happened?
If you have not had this specific “wake up call” (sorry, bad pun), you may have feared it. You know how busy you are and how that busyness consumes you. We’ve all been caught up in the hurry of life. The pressure to do, achieve, multi-task, gain super-hero stature in our professions, as parents, as friends, as amateur kayakers, painters or tree surgeons. All while juggling housework, laundry, groceries, kids and yard work. All the stuff that “eats your life.” When things fall apart, it is not your fault for failing to be an adequate super hero. But it is your fault for demanding that of yourself.
When you lose something important to you, like a relationship, or when you simply can’t even get one off the ground in the first place, you can start to see the toll your busy life is taking on you.
Go easy on yourself. You don’t have to do everything today, this week, this minute. Take a breath. There are only 24 hours in the day and 7 days in the week, as much as you’d like to squeeze in that apocryphal 8th the Fab Four sang about.
If you see dating and relationships as just “one more thing” to squeeze in, it’s no wonder it isn’t working. Being in a relationship is not “one more thing.” It is about being good to yourself. If you want to date, then it is about life values, fulfillment, and personal well-being, not crossing something off a list.
So, consider the following ways to make time to date:
- Make yourself your number one priority: Spend some time with you. Ask yourself, diary in hand (or not), what you want out of life? Out of relationships? Discover your partnering likes, dislikes, values, needs and relationship requirements. Next, actually plan a dating strategy. Figure out where, how and when you can make dating a priority. Then put the plan into action.
- Leave work at work: Our jobs can devour huge chunks of our lives. No matter at what the stage of our career: just starting out, acquiring skills and a reputation, building to the next level, holding on to our position, or turning up the heat so we can actually retire eventually –work can consume us. If you find it difficult to turn off “work mode,” you are not alone. But as valued as your dedication is when you are at work, you are doing yourself no favor at all if that professional dedication sabotages your personal life. My suggestion: appreciate all that you have accomplished and reward yourself by turning it off when you walk out the door. It will be there tomorrow.
- Limit time spent on your devices: Technology is a great tool. Use it, and then lose it, at least for several hours a day. Today’s information overload can take over your life and consume every moment you are not sleeping or working. Use technology in a way that truly benefits your life, but try to extricate yourself from the merely distracting elements. Get off Facebook, stop browsing YouTube, Tumblr, Pintrest or whatever your addictive sites are, and spend time with yourself and others – face to face.
- Slow Down: Do you ever find yourself with an extra, unscheduled 30 minutes or even an hour? Don’t laugh, it could happen. If it does, just enjoy those extra minutes. There is no need to fill every second of every day being efficient and productive. Time can simply be enjoyed. Listen: to the wind outside your window, to music, or even to your own thoughts, heartbeat and breath. Having an unscheduled hour may feel almost as good as having an 8th day of the week.
- Reach out: When you’ve left work at work, turned off your iPad and laptop and silenced your phone, found a moment to listen to what is inside of you, then you can take the steps necessary to connect with someone. When you find yourself dating a lovely person—be generous to both of you buy making time to meet up, talk, walk, hold hands, whatever it is that brings you together.