I was a mother of three children under the age of 12 years old, and I was exhausted.
The call came at 8:30 on a Sunday morning. I heard the phone ringing off in the distance, even though it was propped up right beside me on the nightstand. I had gone to bed the night before after midnight, as I had been up late working on a contract and other papers for a new real estate deal.
I summoned the best voice I could and answered the phone. The lady apologized for having called me so early on a Sunday. She wanted to see a few houses before she returned to Atlanta before Noon. She noted clearly that if I couldn’t show her, she’d simply find someone else.
Of course, that was my hot button. I assured her I could meet her in an hour.
I ran into the shower and then gulped down some coffee. I kissed my husband and kids goodbye and bolted out the door.
I ended up selling a house that morning which did take a bit of the sting out of the hollowness in my gut over the state of my life that seemed to be one, long rush from one client or task to the next.
As a result I was not only bone tired, I felt as if I were standing on a pier, watching myself float away. I didn’t recognize this woman who would drop everything to work with someone at the last minute. The worst was not keeping promises to myself. My subconscious howled that I was living out of integrity, and it was right.
On my way home from a day trip to Asheville one day, I caught the tail end of a radio ad. The announcer said something about getting your life back if you were a real estate agent, and I swerved off the highway and called the number. In less than a week, I had my first session with a real estate coach.
Guess what we talked about first. Time blocking.
Even though I had hired him specifically to get help with managing my time, I could hear the resistance to his advice spilling out of my mouth when he told me to select two days off and draw a line through those days on the time blocking sheet.
“Wait. What? I can’t just choose two days. I don’t know when a client may call me and want to meet.”
“Right,” he said. “That actually doesn’t matter.”
“Well, yes it does,” I argued. “I work in a resort market. I never know when I may get called to go show property.”
“Uh huh,” he said. “Yeah, that doesn’t matter.”
I got a little cranky. I continued to resist.
To his credit and professionalism, he hung in there with me and worked his magic. By the time I got off the phone with him, I realized I didn’t have a time management issue. I had a big, fat lack of boundaries issue, and it not only threatened to wreck my career, my relationships, and my health, it was ruining my sense of self.
So, with shaky hand, I took a pen and drew a diagonal line through Wednesdays and Sundays. I wish you could have heard what my mind was telling me.
I’d like to say that from that moment on, I was cured — freed. But that isn’t true. The reality is is that it took me many months of great focus and intention to truly time block and adhere to boundaries. Once I got it and was consistent in upholding not only my boundaries with clients, but others like getting up at a certain time, staying on track with healthy habits and rituals, and being proactive in building my business, my life changed.
Honestly, I still work on this. I remain a work in progress. I’m still tempted to fudge boundaries here and there. Work late. Say yes when I mean no. Eat the cake. Blow off the day off.
However, I am miles beyond where I was years ago, and my life and businesses are absolutely blooming as a result. I now live with the credo that if I lead my own life well, I can lead others well. And if I lead others well, I can be of greater service to the world.
That’s the legacy I want. I want there to be noticeable places where it is clear I was here, and that during my time here I left indelible, positive marks on people’s hearts, minds, and lives. I want the world to be better — much better — because I showed up with the best version of myself and was all in.
I can only do that with a sacred protection of my energy and boundaries.