My friend Sarah wrote a great post last week called “When the exceptions to your routines become the rule” and I’ve been thinking about it ever since. It’s well worth a read!
Her key point is that our lives can change and without realising it we find there is a disconnect between our ideas about the way we routinely live and the reality. And it has challenged me to consider where this might be true in my own life.
For example, I think of myself as a person who is always on time to things. But my life is currently a whole lot busier than it has been in previous years, and that perspective I have of myself is no longer entirely true. My Book Club friends could attest to this as for some reason they bear the brunt of it – I’m nearly always late (although come to think of so are many of them – perhaps we should change our meeting time!)
More significantly, I like to think of myself as a person who responds to communication from others promptly. I value good communication highly and try to work towards “inbox zero”. But between juggling four email addresses, text messages, and Facebook messages, I have to admit that things fall through the cracks sometimes. The reality is that I am not always as on top of my communications as I would like to think I am. And this means that other people probably don’t see me the same way I see myself.
Apparently my brother-in-law believes emails should responded to within the day. If that is the expectation then I fail it regularly, particularly when it’s a reply that will take more than a minute or two. And when I mentioned this whole issue to one of my closest friends this week, she said, “Yes, you take ages to respond to text messages.” Ouch! But thanks for the reality check.
So what do we do when we recognise that we are not meeting our own expectations? Do we adjust our expectations or our reality?
Do I need to admit to myself that although I would like to be a person who is on time and replies to others in a timely manner, I’m just not? Or do I need to ask myself whether (and why) I still value promptness and then think about how I can re-establish it in my daily practices?
Sarah’s advice is this:
“A deliberate life that honours what matters to us most means constant recalibration of our routines.”
When I slow down and think about it, I have to say that I do value promptness. Not for its own sake, but because I value the people to whom I show it. I value their time, their commitment, their engagement with me. And it’s when I lose sight of that and focus more on myself (how busy I am or how stressed I am) that I overlook the message I am sending to them by my behaviour.
So perhaps this post functions as a confession. I do not live up to my own desire to be a person who demonstrates how much I value others in the way I respond to them.
It also functions as an apology. Friends, I’m sorry if I have dishonoured you or undervalued your time by not responding to you as you needed me to. Please forgive me.
It also functions as an attempt to make myself more accountable. I recognise that I need friends who are willing to call me out and remind me when I’m not living out what I say I value.
And maybe this post can also function as a reminder to some of you, that busyness can be one of the biggest hindrances to good relationships and true community. And that it’s worth letting someone challenge you to rethink your own practices and habits so that you might be honest with yourself and make sure that you haven’t overlooked what you truly value due to a false sense of your own experience.