Creating Some Space For Yourself

Creating Some Space For Yourself

One of the things we have been conditioned to do over the past two years is to look for and comply with any and all markings on the ground in front of us, ensuring that we keep the safe distance of six feet away from one another.

“X” marks the spot…”Please stand behind the yellow line”… “Follow these arrows down the aisle.”

Other than creating another Pavlovian response from me, whenever I see those social distancing markings on the ground, I am reminded of a powerful leadership lesson…

It is important to create some space for yourself.

So many people in the profession of public safety are working incredibly hard these days. With staffing shortages, people leaving the profession to re-career, retirements, and tensions at an all-time high, the potential for burnout is there and we, as leaders, NEED to pay attention!

The hope is that Chiefs and Sheriffs across this country are acutely aware of this need and are taking the necessary steps to attend to their employees’ health and wellness. Unfortunately, I know this is not always the case.

If you are not finding that support you need at the formal levels of your organization, don’t complain about it. Take control of what you can and try to let the other “stuff” go. I know this is easier said than done, but spending energy and time on things that are beyond our control is an exercise in futility and only serves to further frustrate us.

How do you “create space for yourself?”

1. Be intentional.

I cannot stress this enough. Many people simply float along the river of life, allowing the water to bounce them from shore to shore. Not you though! Get that oar in the water and start paddling. If you are intentional about how you spend your time, expend your energy, and with whom you spend that time and energy, you will begin to create space.

If you decide you want to do something (go to the gym, start meditating, get to bed earlier), put it on the calendar. Set reminders to pop up so you cannot ignore it. Take a more proactive approach to your daily schedule, rather than have your day control you.

2. Learn to say “NO”

Take it from a hopeless people-pleaser…saying “no” can sometimes make all the difference in the world. Understanding that there are only so many hours in the day and that your energy bandwidth is limited, it is critical that you learn to professionally and compassionately decline some projects, committee assignments, board member positions, lunch dates, happy hours, etc.

If you practice this skill, you will be amazed at how you can home in on the things in your life that really draw the best out of you and truly bring you joy.

3. Embrace the solitude

Some of us really have a hard time being alone. This may sound strange to some, but I really enjoy my “me time”. Whether it is a solo run, hike, or cup of coffee in the backyard at 5:00AM, those selected time periods help me to reflect, focus and stimulate my creativity. You can get back to the noise after those short breaks, feeling energized and ready to take on the world. Carve out some solo time in your schedule and reap the rewards of solitude!

I hope the days of seeing X’s and lines on the ground telling us where to stand will someday be a distant memory. But for now, I will appreciate that very important reminder to give myself some space and maybe give others the space they need as well.