Wednesday, February 18th marked the the beginning of Lent, which is the forty day period before Easter. During the Lenten season, it's customary to make some small sacrifice in order to prepare youself for Easter. Typically, people choose to give something up, like a bad habit, or they take on a good habit, like volunteering.
I am no stranger to the Lenten resolution. Over the past 35 years or so, I've given up everything from M&M's or ice cream, to not being scared of the dark. I've taken on charity projects, worked on my temper, or added a weekday mass to my schedule. But there's one Lenten resolution that I tend to recycle the most, and that's my time management skills. Season after season, I often pick something new to work on, and then I add, as an afterthought, "...and let me work on not being late."
It's not that I'm the latest person that every lived. It's just that I'm almost always late when I do just about anything. And a few minutes of lateness every single day can be draining...on myself, but mostly on other people.
So this year, I'm trying something new. I'm going to make my time management resolution a priority, not an add-on. And I'm not going to "give up being late." I'm going to work on being ten minutes early.
Pure semantics, but I'm hoping it will work. I figure it's better to focus on the positive side of the equation, rather than the negative one. Working toward something has to be more motivating than trying to fight against something else, right? My theory is that striving for a behavior will be more empowering than striking one.
Empowerment can be a very powerful tool when it comes to working with others, and even in dealing with lupus. Take my afternoon nap, for instance.
As many of you know, I have no problem talking about my daily afternoon nap. Most of my friends and family know I take one, and that I choose to plan my daily activities around it. So if I'm with anyone else who knows me between the hours of 1-5 pm, my nap is up for discussion. And I'm fine with that. In fact, I appreciate it.
But my favorite way of talking about it is by being asked. I love when someone says, "So Sara, what time are you going to take your nap today?" or "What's your plan for fitting in your nap?"
Simple. Succinct. Empowering. I own my nap, I should decide when to take it. It's so much better to be asked than to be told. When someone says to me, "Sara, you should take your nap at X time" or "You need to get to bed", it makes me cringe. I feel insulted, and in no way empowered. It's as though I'm being accused of not taking ownership of my nap, and that can feel demeaning.
**Note: The above rule (of preferring to be asked and not told) is ONLY applicable if I'm being the responsible, mature lupite that I strive to be, and if I'm visibly choosing an appropriate nap time and length. If I'm misbehaving, and ignoring my nap time, then by all means, I may need to be reminded, hassled, or personally escorted to bed. And I have to warn you, if you're still in the phase of stubbornness, obstinence, or flat out denial, then the latter method most likely applies to you, too!
The rule of empowerment is true in practically any conversation I have, in fact. During the year we renovated our house, my husband and I were in constant phone contact with our contractor. We traded off on making the daily calls, and I remember how much more effective it was when I'd ask Johnny, "Did the contractor ever get back to you?" instead of "Did you remember to call the contractor?
There's that accusatory tone again in the latter, which probably made Johnny cringe, too. I'd rather empower him by letting him own the call, rather than accusing him of not making it.
Choose your words wisely, and you can empower someone to do just about anything. Hopefully, you've been empowered to empower someone else today!