For many years, I spent most of my days in meetings.
I ran around from one conference room to another, or jumped from one conference call to the next, with the minimum of breaks in between.
Busy was the word I used to use to describe my world. To be honest, I think there was also a bit of misplaced pride accompanying the statement that I uttered all too often: “I’m so sorry, my calendar is just crazy-busy.”
Now that I work differently, I can see how noisy it all was too.
Too noisy to hear myself think. Too noisy to hear the questions bubbling up.
Changing my career gave me a chance to re-design my work-life. After all, that’s one of the benefits of reinventing one’s self, right?
Though, I didn’t immediately know to do this.
Off the gate, I filled my days with all that I thought made for a productive day.
The hallmarks of busy-ness. The long to-do lists. A calendar filled with appointments… some I made up just so the calendar could look full.
The stark difference between my old life and the quietness of a writer’s life was jarring. A culture shock almost.
There were no back-to-back meetings to attend. No vendors wanting to discuss how their products or services is “just the thing” we needed.
No team members lining up to bounce off ideas, or get direction, or seek support, or provide status updates. No boss wanting, demanding, expecting me to be at their beck-and-call.
Alone time is when I distance myself from the voices of the world so I can better hear my own. —Oprah Winfrey
Thing is, I was a little lost. I didn’t know what to do with the silence initially.
At first, I thought of this lack of external prompts as a sign that I wasn’t doing what I was supposed to be doing. That I was somehow failing in my journey.
Somewhere, somehow and mercifully, a brick fell on my head, and I finally understood.
I was defining a new normal.
And in this my new normal, I get to put the things that work for me. Not because it’s what others expect or how others did it.
Rather because these are the activities that allow me to do my best work.
I (re)learned what made me tick better. What made me create more. What made the ideas come freely, and what allowed me to find the way to make them happen.
I finally appreciated the silence because of what it afforded me. So, I designed in the white space that I needed.
In my new normal, I can hear the questions.
Most importantly, I can hear the answers that come from within, as opposed to looking elsewhere for them.
This week, I challenge you to ask yourself if you have enough white space in your work-life.
What small thing can you do to create that space for you to hear yourself think?