Guilty as Charged


I was driving to Brisbane just before Christmas, and I saw a sign on the side of the road. It said, “Maintain safe space for the unexpected”.

Although it was referring to maintaining a safe space between vehicles when driving, I realised it had a powerful meaning for my life.

Maintain safe space for the unexpected.

Wow – what a great message about life. As I think about my own life, I realise this is something I don’t do. I plan my year, but don’t allow enough space for the unexpected. And so when those curved balls then land in my lap, I find myself up to my eyeballs in things I’ve committed to, and inevitably I’m letting someone down…including myself.

Yep, I’m guilty as charged.

In 2019, I almost burnt out with all the travel I did. I’d taken 5 trips overseas, as well as travelling to different cities in Australia. I’d only just moved into my new home, and I was so sad that I wasn’t ever home for long enough to really enjoy it. I’d be on the road at least two weeks of every month, and my life felt very disjointed and ungrounded.

No sooner had I settled back home again and into a daily rhythm, and it was time to head away again.

The two years of the pandemic were a gift for me. They allowed me the chance to spend nourishing time at home without the constant travel. My cats loved it! Endless time with me around, so we could get into those healthy daily rhythms. I’d get up early and watch the sunrise. I’d have a cold shower. I’d cuddle the cats. I’d do my morning oils ritual, and my grounding and protecting. Then I’d put in a productive day’s work, have healthy meals, some wind down time, followed by a great night’s sleep.

In 2023, knowing that I’d be travelling with my work once more, I decided to be very strategic. I was going to plan my diary so that I was only going to be away one weekend a month, to allow me plenty of weekends at home.

That felt really balanced, and I entered 2023 with a great attitude, certain that I’d made the right choice.

Why was I so focussed on weekends, and not weeks?

It’s because weekends are my favourite part of the week. I get very few interruptions and can plunge myself into the joy of any project or self-care, and completely free fall with it.

I’ll start my weekends by asking myself what’s the “One Thing” that I most want to achieve that weekend, and which will bring me the greatest joy to have accomplished, ie. what is my Fluffy Duck? And that’s what I prioritise.

Once that’s achieved, I then ask myself what’s the “Next Thing” that I most want to achieve, ie. my next fluffy duck, and off I go with that.

But as I watched my diary in 2023, I saw how many “extra” things jumped in to fill up the spaces, and the weekends.

The “unexpected” was much larger than I thought, and before I knew it, I was finding myself adding another thing and another thing into my schedule, or finding that I’d seriously underestimated how long things would take me.

It was all perfectly justified, things that I felt compelled to attend (out of need or desire). But nevertheless, it derailed my perfectly planned year, and I hauled myself to the end of 2023 by the tips of my fingernails.

Sure enough, I was at burnout point (and not for the first time in my life).

So when I saw that sign on the road saying “Maintain safe space for the unexpected”, it was the perfect message for me. It was Spirit’s voice, projected on a digital billboard.

Don’t you love how our guides get through to us? They can be so creative!

And clearly, there are a lot more unexpected things that jump into my life than what I anticipate and plan for. That means I need to have an even more “empty” year when it comes to planning, and focus on one thing before I add the next thing in.

For this year, my “plan” is to do less long-term planning - to take it one quarter at a time, and to have just one or two points of focus in each quarter. When they are achieved, another goal can be added in.

This is a work in progress for me. I’ve always lived life to the max, and filled every spare moment, and I was proud to do that. I was raised to be an over-achiever, and so this out-of-balance, “all work and no play” has been part of my identity.

Yet I realise how much value I receive from my “empty” time, from the universal vacuum that allows unexpected surprises to present themselves.

When I fill my life to the brim and overflowing, there’s less space for Spirit’s surprises. And isn’t our life made so much richer with the unexpected gifts and surprises that get sent our way?

So this year, I’m planning to allow for more empty time, and more surprises. What about you?

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