Back in the day, I ran marathons. And not just the 26.2 mile races on foot, though I did those, too. My LIFE was a marathon. I worked 10 or 12 hour days, enjoyed full-day shopping excursions at the mall, spent entire afternoons reading a book in a chair. I went for three-hour runs on the weekends, went to graduate school at night, and cleaned the house top to bottom in one fell swoop at least once a week. There was no need to hurry nor to take breaks; I set a pace I could sustain and I kept at it, day in and day out, for years. My own marathon.
At some point along this course called life, I evolved from a marathoner into a sprinter. With my own company to run and three kids in the house, my days now are more likely to look like this:
Wake up early and SPRINT through a workout before the kids wake up and need me. Answer a few emails and tidy up.
Pause to cool down and snuggle a waking child or two (or three).
SPRINT through shower and hair and makeup and dressing routine. Make beds/dress children/supervise teeth brushing.
Pause to make breakfast (and a fresh pot of coffee or tea on a good day).
SPRINT to get kids on the bus/off to camp/settled in with Granny. Pack bags with computer/files/ iPhone/Target returns and load them into SUV.
Pause to find NPR or Coffeehouse on the radio (inevitably turning off Radio Disney to do so) for some quasi-peaceful quiet drive time.
SPRINT to get in an hour or two of work before the first client appointment.
Pause to cherish unhurried time with a client…listening, listening.
SPRINT to handle Target returns/eat lunch/shop for a new toilet paper holder (or ridiculous necessity of the day).
Pause to check in with John and/or the kids & Granny.
SPRINT to write blog post/make sales calls/confirm client appointments/research new software/watch a webinar/troubleshoot a client issue/make pediatrician appointments.
Pause to meet with another client or someone on the Nourish team.
SPRINT to drive home/talk to girlfriend/plan a birthday party/make a grocery list in my head.
Pause to give hugs and collect kisses and marvel over craft projects.
SPRINT to make dinner/go through mail/tidy up kitchen/change clothes.
Pause to give thanks around the table and share the happenings of our day.
SPRINT to clean up kitchen/check email/pay bills/get to soccer practice or other event.
Pause to play.
SPRINT to give baths/ put on PJs/supervise teeth brushing/hair drying/book choosing.
Pause to read stories and say prayers.
SPRINT to finish up work/prep for next day/plan lunches/lay out clothes.
Pause to catch up with John…and read…and fall asleep…to begin again tomorrow.
Gone are the days of long uninterrupted stretches of…well….anything! My life is lived in snippets, and I find that I need to “train” differently for these intervals than I did for my marathons. It’s harder to coast because I can’t build much momentum in these short bursts. Long periods of focus aren’t required, but getting down to business quickly is. Stopping on a dime and picking up where I left off is mission critical. Effectively dealing with distractions and interruptions is a must.
Much like changing up your workout routine builds new muscles, so too does changing up the rhythm of your life. I’ve been a sprinter for a number of years now and I’m finally getting used to it. Some days better than others. I find that setting the right expectations helps immensely. It’s speed that matters now, not distance, so every minute counts. Being realistic about how many projects I can complete in a day of sprints helps me feel like a success rather than a failure by day’s end. I’m learning.
How is the rhythm of YOUR life evolving? Are you noticing the changes? And most importantly, are you adjusting your training and expectations accordingly?