Enough time for yourself, what’s that?

Guest blog by Rilla Lysens, coach & trainer at Make me Fly!

“Do you have enough time for yourself?”

The question came soaring at me like an arrow, razor-sharp, its tip flaming and headed for a spot on my abdomen most likely described as being my “plexus solaris” by those interested in reiki. I felt myself having trouble uttering the right words, I got caught by surprise. Ever since I started filling my days with training and coaching people concerning happiness at work, (personal) growth and leadership, I’ve subliminally felt like I have to set a good example – that I’ve got to walk the talk. I hesitated for a bit, and said: “Uh, well, sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t, I guess.”

I can imagine that they would have expected more wisdom for someone with my job description; I think I even blushed a little. The words settled either way, somewhere in between my head and plexus solaris, the question stuck with me for the next few days. I went to sleep with that specific question in the back of my mind, and decided to let my subconscious deal with it. With my head already resting on the pillow, I ran through the people I spent that night with. All women, I get to call my best friends. About 15 years ago, we were brought together by our inexperience and our first job (which we shared at that time). We quicky found each other and never let each other go. Whilst ruminating, I started wondering what “time for yourself” actually means for every one of us.

After a slightly turbulent night, I opened my eyes, and suddenly realised that it was never about time to begin with. Me-time has been commercialised to be nothing more than a day of wellness, a cup of coffee in a trendy coffee shop, a trip to a fancy city with your partner, a book which one “must’ve read”, a restaurant to which one “must’ve been”, a yoga studio which really makes one “find themselves”, and more. The idea suddenly felt absurd – as if someone else could decide what your “off-time” should look like. Yes, that’s what I’m calling it, “off-time”; after all, we’re constantly “on”, these days. Time to retrieve yourself is not me-time. It’s time where everything is allowed to move a bit slower. Time without deadlines. Time in which you don’t have to. Time that allows you to say: I’ll turn myself off, for now.

Still thinking about that idea, I stumbled into the living room: the house was quiet, the world was still asleep. I made myself some good coffee and sat myself down on the sofa under a blanket – off-time. On-button still untouched, listening to the silence, I reflected: when was I in a state of off-ness? Mental condition: tired. Overall feeling: on. Damn, she’d been right all along: I don’t have enough time for myself. And, in all honesty: I have been feeling it for a while. Even worse: I realised it wasn’t about missing hours and minutes, but rather not filling them in correctly. A feeling of gratefulness washed over me: that’s what friends are for.

In my book Hoera, ontslag!, I state that leading a life according to your energy formula, will lead you to your best kind of life. The first step in this process, is mapping out your personal values; out of a long list of values we distill your core values. I picked up my book, and read out: Harmony – Freedom – Love – Discovery. I flicked through the pages, and read what they’d once meant to me. After that, I read the guidelines I’d posed for myself. Gulp. Quite a few seemed to have been stammering recently, neglected without further consideration. My Freudian Es had conquered and taken over, at the cost of my off-time. I started sticking bookmarks in my book, on every page that shows one of those guidelines for my life: I already made some decisions. It seemed to be working. From now on, the on-button can stay off, every now and then. In my on-time, I try to focus on my core values and guess what: time for myself, seems to have appeared out of nowhere. Because I live by my core values again, off-time magically appears everywhere. And I really don’t need a trendy coffee shop for that.

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