The last three months I have taken an unexpected hiatus from writing and have learned some key lessons around priorities, permission and promises. I anticipated reducing my workload in December to care for my husband as he recovered from hip surgery. I did not anticipate that the surgery everyone proclaimed as “no big deal” was really quite serious. The initial idea of scaling back for a couple weeks morphed into basically putting the business on hold for nearly six weeks.
Here’s what I learned in that process.
Clarifying Top Priorities Makes Decisions Simpler
When you are riding in the front seat of an ambulance with a loved one in the back, your priorities come into focus quickly. I am so thankful that everything ended up fine, but the days after that ambulance ride brought great clarity for me. My sole focus in December was spending time with Patrick and caring for him. It became the top priority in January too. Nothing else really mattered, because every moment together became even more precious and treasured.
As we experienced the love of neighbors and friends who supported and cared for us, I learned that supporting our friends needed to be higher on my list. I had no idea what it was like to be a caretaker until I was one. The help and encouragement of friends made all the difference.
Many people have asked, “How could you push the business aside for all that time?” Honestly, it was easy. I knew where my focus should be, and my actions needed to align with that. I am blessed to have clients who were supportive and understanding through all of this.
At times, I had no energy at all, which was weird because I’ve often felt like I had limitless energy in the past. I learned that caring for someone is not only a physical task, but also an emotional one. And it can quickly deplete your energy. That long list of things I thought I would get done around the house and for the business during Patrick’s recovery? It became laughable. I realized some of those things that would be nice to do really didn’t matter at all. They still aren’t done. It is easier now to ask with a new perspective, how much does that really matter?
Priorities shifted even through March. I’ve reflected a lot on the core of BONSAI, which is changing lives. Writing blogs, being active on LinkedIn, and even networking became non-priorities. Clients where my engagement has a critical impact on lives became an even greater focus. Everything was run through a filter of “Why is this necessary and what happens if I don’t do it now?”
I am still using this as a filter today as I consider new opportunities, make commitments, and look to re-engage. We committed first quarter to nurturing ourselves so we would be better fit to serve. Stripping away all the activities and adding some back slowly and intentionally has been so energizing. We’ve chosen to say no to being in a state of continual hurry with lots of “activity.” We can be in control of what we choose to engage in. If we’re not, we’ve released control of our calling.
Giving Ourselves Permission to Change Gears Reduces Anxiety and Boosts Effectiveness
This is easier said than done, right? It was easy in December, but as life became more normal in February, I found it easy to slip back into old patterns. I started thinking, “I should be doing x,” such as “I need to be posting on LinkedIn,” or “I need to get my blogs going.” And on and on.
Again, the question I asked was “Why?” Often the answer was not valid. It was usually based on somebody else’s expectations or their views of what was important. So I went back to a principle a counselor taught me years ago—giving myself permission to change the rules.
Giving myself permission to do what I know is best even when counter to the world’s views or expected practices was essential and life giving. And as soon as I did so, the guilt vanished. Permission to skip a quarterly newsletter. Permission to do Zumba for 30 minutes daily. Permission to not clean. Permission to not write goals for 2020 by January 1. Permission to spend extra time with clients, sometimes at no additional charge, when doing so made a meaningful difference in someone’s life.
Reflecting on Promises Being Fulfilled Brings Hope
Even in the darkest hours, we witnessed God’s provision and protection. The fall in the shower that led to the ambulance ride could have easily ended catastrophically. In the midst of it, we prayed and trusted for God’s healing and protection as we waited for the EMT’s, who were awesome. We felt God’s embrace and it reinforced that even when we have no idea what the future holds, God does, and we can trust Him with it. I clung to that throughout recovery, remembering all I could do was my best while trusting the outcomes to Him. (Psalm 18:1-2)
His provision has also been true for the business and ministry. Even with no attention to writing, newsletters, networking, etc., we have been blessed with additional opportunities that we are so excited about. Even with taking all that time off, we have actually experienced growth in our work. The lessons around prioritizing things are proving to be essential. (Matthew 6: 26-34)
In January and February, when energy was low and work was stacking up, I wondered how it would all get accomplished. But it miraculously got done—and done well. When we are where God wants us to be, He promises to give us what we need to get it done. It can be easy to drift to self-sufficiency and dependency, and He uses these times to remind us that He is the Provider of our needs, the Giver of our skills and abilities and energy to accomplish our purpose. (2 Corinthians 9:8)
Hope is trusting God for what we do not know and “Being assured that all things work together for good for those called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28) We sometimes can look back and see this happen, as I did the past few months, and that is a blessing. It has built my faith so some day, when I may not understand, I can still trust even in not seeing. I pray that will be the case—trusting without seeing is another thing that’s easier said than done.
I am thankful for all who were there for us, and I thank you for taking the time to read this. If you have an experience to share when you walked in faith with your business, I would love to hear about it.