As I take the time to reflect on the year is now officially behind us and consider the possibilities for the year ahead, I was struck by the overall theme of permission that came out of my experiences in 2019. Undoubtedly this year featured personal and professional struggles for many of us – yet what I found for the first time in my life was that I was deeply rooted in giving myself (and others) consent to do and be what they needed to meet whatever challenges or successes came their way.
You may remember the concept from your school days or if you’re a parent, last month… those simple forms that gave you or your child permission to attend an event or show up in a certain way for a specified activity. I re-learned the concept of writing permission slips through my intentional study and facilitation training with Brené Brown. In terms of permission slip writing in this instance, we’re referencing a written note that gives you permission to feel or act a certain way. In other words, you are in charge of your own behavior and this is an intention-setting activity for how you want to behave in situations.
To be sure, I can only speak to my own experience this past year but perhaps some of the permissions I’ve learned to give myself along this path of continual improvement I try to stay on will offer some insight, reflection or perhaps even challenge yourself to give yourself consent in 2020 and beyond.
* Permission to rest. For me, this year was one of emotional, physical and mental exhaustion. As a small business owner working to grow the business, a single parent trying to raise my two children, and a soon-to-be stepparent of two teenagers, I’m pretty much always tired in some way or another. Add to that the death of my mother in later January 2019, following 9 years of caregiving for her and I was ready to take a nap most days before I’d even began.
And some days, that’s exactly what I did…. I would get my kids to school, take the dogs out and then come home to go back to sleep. Or I would reschedule meetings if I wasn’t feeling up for them. Or when I got sick I stayed in bed and rested until I felt better. Or I would work in comfy clothes and only participate in phone meetings for work some days. There were even several instances where I allowed myself to nap after lunch or in-between meetings. It’s always been amazing to me what a power nap can do to refresh your energy level.
What times of the day or year do you experience low energy levels? How might you be able to rearrange your schedule or create moments of rest that put you back in tune with how you wish to show up?
* Permission to take care of myself over others. For most of my life, I’ve been known as a caregiver for others. With my mom’s medical issues beginning the year before I started middle school, I stepped into the role willingly for her and was frequently known as “mama goose” in college for making sure my friends got home safe from a night out or stepping in the middle of a few almost fist-fights to talk down the opposing parties. Following the birth of my children, I naturally became known as “mama bear” – although we joke in my family that certain negative kid behavior is why bears eat their young. After almost 27 years of caregiving, caregiver burnout was more than a real thing in my life – it was like another family member.
So, at the urging of my business coach, best friend, romantic partner, financial advisor, Hospice, and many others I finally gave myself permission to take care of myself. This meant I had monthly massages, got a manicure/pedicure, made time daily to read & journal, and enrolled in a yoga/barre studio. I even updated my self-care plan to include more play, fun and rest time – both alone AND with my family & friends. Essentially, I did things that filled my tank so that I could be the kind of mother, professional, friend & partner I wanted to be.
Still struggling with the idea of taking care of yourself [over or before] others? Consider the air mask theory…. If you’re not taking care of yourself, you’re truly not at your best to take care of anyone else either. Interested in learning more about radical self-care, check out our blog on our own self-care sabbatical.
* Permission to have difficult conversations… Even when I don’t want to. And truly, very few people WANT to have difficult conversations. I want to have a life of easy, carefree connections where I can engage in dialogue with others who disagree with me with civility, kindness and understanding. But we live in a culture that’s becoming increasingly more divisive by each presidential election… er, minute.
But this year I made it a point to confront my discomfort, my awkwardness, and in many ways my vulnerability personally by engaging in difficult conversations with family members, my ex-husband and others who historically have been less than my favorite conversations to engage in. Quite frankly, though, I did this for business reasons… or at least that’s what I told myself. Because truly, how can I ask board or staff leaders to engage in difficult conversations about strategy, one another or their futures if I run from them myself?
One of my favorite tools became the Dare to Lead curriculum’s “Rumble Starters”. I literally kept this in front of me for most of those difficult conversations, wrote scripts/highlights for the conversations that needed to happen and made my own mantras (ex: joy of conscious integrity) so I could accomplish the conversation with courage and compassion for the other person’s point of view.
What kind of difficult conversations do you find yourself MOST avoiding? How might that avoidance be limiting your full potential as a courageous leader?
Whatever struggles or challenges may lay in front of you I hope that you’ll take the time to give yourself permission to be whoever you are and whoever you wish to be.
From our team to yours, Connect For More wishes you a wonderful new year full of exploring, expanding, engaging or evolving in ways you’re only just imagining! Permission granted.
What do you want to allow yourself consent or permission to do or feel in 2020? How might this impact your professional and/or personal life? What activities fill your tank and how can you make more time for these in your daily practices? If you’re curious about where to get started to help you goal set for 2020, check out these resources on creating annual performance letters, attainable resolution setting and permission granting.
How can you put your lessons learned into practice for your future courageous leadership, parenting style or personal/professional improvement? Are you interested in creating your own gratitude practices and becoming more self-aware as a leader and/or parent? If you’re not sure where to start or want an accountability partner, we’d love to help! Contact Liz’s accountability partner at firstname.lastname@example.org or click here to set up a FREE 30-minute consultation.
About the Author: Liz Wooten-Reschke is President/CEO of Connect For More. CFM engages leaders and empowers philanthropists to help them accomplish their mission. As the lead consultant, Liz focuses her efforts on providing ongoing support & coaching for chief executives and volunteers of nonprofits, workshop & retreat facilitation, and customized engagements to enhance board governance, agency strategy and leadership experience with her clients. Liz is a Certified Dare to Lead™ Facilitator and BoardSource Certified Governance Trainer. She is a proud member of the University of South Florida Alumni Association Board, a fourth-generation Floridian and Key West Conch. She lives in Tampa, Florida, with her partner, four children, two dogs, and one cat. For more information about Liz or her work, please visit her company website, follow her on Twitter, or visit her Amazon author page.