The idea of finding a word that can be my touchstone through the year intrigues me. My goal is to use that word as a lens to filter out activities, commitments and people that don’t have a positive impact in my life. As a caregiver, I rarely get to pick and choose what happens with mom, but I can make thoughtful decisions on what to change and what to keep within our ever changing world.
Impact is my reminder to look at the things I am doing as mom’s caregiver, as a friend, as a professional, and measure the impact on my life. Is it serving me well? Does it bring me joy and satisfaction, or does it drain me? Too often as caregivers we are so busy that we forget or don’t have (make) the time for this self-inventory. And really, isn’t this where self-care starts?
How did I decide on the word impact? I didn’t choose the word, it found me. Five months ago, I branched out into caregiver consulting. I work with family caregivers to identify their top three worries, then I research specific solutions and find resources to alleviate each worry. I love it, but add this to blogging, the website, and caring for mom, and it became clear that I need to let go of some things in order to make room for new things. So, I let go of my part time job. A job I held for two years and was my only steady income. It was a leap of faith – believe me. And guess what? A conversation that I started a year ago turned into an opportunity to be paid to write for another organization.
And that got me thinking, what else have I held onto in my life that no longer serves me? Are there activities, people, or organizations that I continue to keep, even though in my heart of hearts I know they are a drain on my energy and time? And the answer is yes. I love the work I do with one organization, but the time commitment has become too much. I admit that at times I am resentful and the phrase, “Honey if you can’t be a blessing, don’t show up” runs through my mind. Am I still a blessing to this organization? If not, it is time to move on and allow someone else to work with them that has the enthusiasm and excitement they deserve.
My role as mom’s caregiver is one that I must also look at through the lens of “impact”. This past holiday much of my time was spent helping mom get ready. I was happy to do it, but it left little time for my own preparations, no downtime for me to relax and enjoy the season. Did I really have to add baking cookies to the mix? Could trying to find the right pair of slippers for mom have waited until after the holidays?
Through the lens of “impact,” backing cookies and three shopping trips to find slippers did rob me of time and some of the joy of the season. So next year? We’ll bake Christmas cookies in early November and freeze them. Any non-essentials, we’ll buy after the holidays. And that makes room for a fun outing to mom’s favorite store. It makes room for her to pick out and buy gifts for loved ones, something she rarely gets to do. And it makes room for me to enjoy time with family, friends and remember the reason for the season.
Letting go of things frees up time and headspace. Both have a positive impact. Now that I’ve made room, what people or activities will I bring into my life that will bring me joy? I’ll keep you posted. What will you let go of in your life? What will you add that will have a positive impact?
Disclaimer: The material in this blog is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to replace, nor does it replace, consulting with a physician, lawyer, accountant, financial planner or other qualified professional.