I write the articles I post on Sundays to help you plan your upcoming week. This one starts with a story.
Eric Cutter is a skilled cyclist, and this particular Saturday morning’s jaunt with his brother and friend wasn’t particularly challenging. After two and a half hours of vigorous pedaling over rolling hills and through redwood forests, he wasn’t particularly weary. When he crossed a narrow wooden bridge and lost his balance, he wasn’t particularly concerned. He deftly unclipped his shoe from the pedal, confident a quick touch on the planks would right his bike and put him back on track without stopping.
But he was too close to the side of the railless bridge, so when he put his foot down, there was nothing but air to meet it. As his bike slowly leaned over the edge, Eric realized, I’m in for a bad fall.
How odd, he thought, that thing your brain does when time seems to slow down.
He could see the creek bed below and calculated, that’s the distance of at least two of me.
I can’t grab that branch; it’s just out of my reach.
Those stones down there. This is the kind of fall that breaks bones.
His body had turned facing up, and when he hit bottom, the small of his back slammed into a basketball-sized rock. Pain seared through his whole body. He yelled. And then the pain mostly went away, and for a moment things were quiet. His bike dangled carelessly from a branch ten feet above him. The bridge hovered over his bike, unnoticing.
It turned out he was okay. After climbing the bank, retrieving his bike, and gingerly pedaling home, the only evidence of his trials was some very impressive bruises.
Later, looking back to that moment at the bottom of the ravine when he thought he had broken his body, Eric sheepishly admits the first thought that came to his mind:
It’ll be a relief to hole up in bed and watch movies for a few weeks.
Can you relate to that feeling? I know it sounds strange, but would it be a relief to get sick right now? What if you could wipe everything off your plate this week because you had a reason everyone would understand?
I’ve been sick all week, fevery, coughy, and logey. My scratchy voice and runny nose have bought me leeway with people. I’ve reset my priorities every few hours, pushing off work tasks, canceling some meetings and bracing for others, opting for take-out, and suddenly napping in the middle of it all. When my dog came down with a serious eye infection, that changed my focus again.
What I pay attention to when I’m sick opens a new window into my priorities.
Reset Your Priorities This Week
Simulating illness is very difficult, but I suggest you try it right now. It won’t take but a couple minutes. Oh, and have your Week’s Plan where you can review it.
First, take a few breaths and try to imagine you are so sick, or better, so gravely injured (because nobody disputes the seriousness of a blood and broken bones) that you can’t get out of bed. Feel like crap? Good. Now review your Week’s Plan. Even though you’re in pain, are there things in your plan you’d force yourself to get up to do? If so, is it because you feel so passionate about them, you’d be willing to endure great discomfort? Or do you just feel like you have to do them?
Now, here’s the real test. If you could clear everything off your list this week, without any negative consequences, what is the one thing you’d put back? You get just one thing to do this week. Nothing else matters because nobody will blame you for flaking out. Do you know what it is, that one thing?
Figure it out.
Then give everything you’ve got to do it this week.