Be The Boss

Beth Demme Blog 4 Comments

Be The Boss Of Your Own Life, Stop Letting Your Schedule Run You

“Now that I’ve had the taste of running something, I don’t think I could go back,” my husband said as we pondered the benefits (and challenges) of being self-employed.

Self-employment is something a lot of people talk and write about. Often they talk about it wistfully as an aspiration or ideal. I think some people mistakenly think of self-employment as a job without a boss. On the contrary, self-employment means you’re never away from your boss because she is y‑o‑u.

If you’ve never worked for yourself, it can be hard to imagine just how hard you are to work for. [Twitter Link]

For me, the freedom and the responsibility of working for myself are a great fit. Still, my husband’s word choice has been nagging me a bit.

Running something.

I find myself wondering, am I running something or is something running me?

Right now I’m in a busy season of life called PARENTING. Being a parent is kind of like being self-employed. We set our own schedule, make all the decisions, and even find the funds for new projects.

Have you ever thought about it this way – how parenting is like self-employment?

If not, I hope my analogy won’t make you re-think all of your entrepreneurial dreams.

Here’s what I mean by the comparison. Because I am self-employed, I have the freedom to accept or reject work-related projects based on how they fit with my personal and professional goals. Guess what? That’s true of my family’s calendar, too. As the parent I have the freedom to accept or reject activities based on how they fit with our family’s goals.

When the schedule starts to feel maddening, it’s time to ask:

Am I running the schedule, or is it running me?

Today, I’m not sure. Despite our best intentions to limit the number of activities the kids participate in, it’s a little out of hand right now. As in, we have evening activities five nights a week. You may not have a calendar in front of you, but that’s Every. Single. Weeknight.

In an effort to maintain a sense of control over our schedule, we have some non-negotiables like family dinner together at least six nights a week. Also, we divide and conquer when we have to, but we’re learning it’s important to combine and conquer when we can.

Combine and conquer means we do as much together as a family as we can, even when it’s inefficient.

Yes, sometimes one child is bored riding along while the other gets dropped off at an activity, rehearsal, or practice. But the alternative is to say, “we don’t have time to be together as a family, our schedule won’t allow it.”

Or, to paraphrase Sweet Brown, a YouTube sensation from 2012: “Family time? Ain’t nobody got time for that!”

I hope “we don’t have time to be together as a family” sounds crazy to you, because it definitely sounds crazy to me. Not just crazy, but unpleasant and certainly no fun.

When we let the schedule run us, that’s what happens. Crazy, unpleasant, no-fun times.

I don’t think parenting is the only season when this happens. I think we are susceptible to being run by our schedule at every phase of life.

When I was a college student, my class schedule (and the ever-present fear of what next) ran my life. Law school was no better. As a 1L (first year), my schedule was chosen for me by the school. I didn’t choose classes or professors; I went where I was told.

As a young professional, I worked hard to establish (i.e. prove) myself at work. There was a season (blessedly brief) when I worked as much as possible because I foolishly thought that made me a more valuable human being. I allowed my work schedule to run my life.

I doubt I’ll be any less susceptible to “busyness” a decade from now when my husband and I are empty nesters. Even beyond that, into retirement. My mom is retired and I have several retired friends. I know from their example that retirement can be a very busy season.

Our schedule can get out of hand in any season of life. Why? Because we forget we’re the boss. We forget that we need to run our schedule instead of letting it run us.

What about you? Are you running your schedule or is it running you? Tell me about it here in the Comments section or find me on Twitter or Facebook.

Comments 4

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  4. You have given me a lot to think about. Is my schedule running me or am I running it? I believe most days I have to say “it runs me”. As a friend said recently, “Nancy, you need to learn to say NO.” That is hard to do when you’re retired and everyone, including yourself, thinks I should have time to do everything. I am going to make a sincere effort to “run my schedule” for the next week. Let’s see how that goes.

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