I was looking over my (many) calendars last week and I thought, "Cassandra - you have to start taking care of yourself." I had too much on my plate. I wasn't scheduling yoga. Meals were starting to be too fast and furious. Alcohol was creeping into the schedule almost every night. I was working later and later into the evening and scheduling earlier and earlier meetings the following days. Opportunities were coming at me fast, and I felt I had a handle on all of it.
I learned a few years ago that when I run like that, I'm asking for a shutdown - one way or another. Some people can sleep 5 hours a night, work a full day, take the red eye to the opposite side of the country, and be bright and fresh to man a booth for 8 hours at a convention (yeah, I'm talking to you Steph.)
So what happens if we can't operate that way? When we don't mind our own limits? Our bodies come crashing to a halt as if to say, "You're not going to take a rest? Fine. I'll force you to." Which is exactly where I ended up last weekend.
I was trying to self-diagnose (Food poisoning? A migraine? The plague?) but it didn't really matter. I didn't have the energy to move beyond my couch and I felt dizzy if I looked at any screen for longer than 2 minutes.
We've all been there - you're fighting an illness and you're not sure when it's time to make the call (or text) to your boss to let them know you can't make it in. So how do you make the decision for yourself when you are the boss? It might seem easy enough - I don't HAVE to work tomorrow, so I'll just take it easy. But what happens when you have several first-time meetings? Rescheduling is OK, but not a great first impression, right? What if you have a major presentation with a potential client that you've been prepping for over the last couple of months? What if you're in the middle of providing a strategic plan with a hard deliverable date?
Well, for starters you can do what I did - cry. But that's didn't help much (and it only made me more dehydrated, so lose-lose).
Then, I was practical. I created a realistic list of priorities. I started with my biggest clients (and prospects) and their projects, then worked my way down. Anyone with a tight deadline was moved towards the top, and I fleshed it out from there. What was booted? Mainly the small, exploratory projects I've been wanting to try for my own business. Social media marketing strategies were put on hold. Research for a co-working space was halted. Graphic design work to share with prospects on my process was on pause. Stuff I'll get to. Stuff that won't make me or break me this week.
I am crossing my fingers I've learned my lesson on this one (and I have the proof right here to smack me in the face if I didn't). I hope I make it to the end of the year without another shutdown like this. If you can learn anything from me on this one, please let it be more than boundaries are common sense. Trust me. Boundaries before lead to more success (and less nausea) later.