How was your day? Did you have a good day?
You can answer honestly. It’s just us talking. I ask my son the same questions on our car ride home from school. His dad usually throws in the juicy follow-up question: Devin, who went to timeout today?
I can’t lie, I like hearing the preschool gossip. We laugh and some days even get a succinct rundown of who did what, what he learned and what he had for lunch.
Maybe you have similar conversations with loved ones, a therapist or yourself. Even if you don’t have a formal process for reflecting on your day, you can feel the impacts of the day in your bones and in your mind.
Start your day with the end in mind
What if you didn’t wait until the end of the day to ask yourself about your day? What if you asked yourself what you need to have a good day before your feet hit the floor?
Here’s how that looked for me a few weeks ago:
My son was recovering from a cold, and we wanted to keep him home one more day for additional monitoring. In these COVID times, we don’t even play about a runny nose.
I was lying in bed thinking about the meetings, to-dos and deliverables I had on my plate, which isn't a great way to start the day. Then I began running scenarios in my mind of how I would parent, manage and adult that day. I felt exhausted before I got out of bed.
But God in all His goodness reminded me of my deliverance from doing the most. It wasn’t a question of whether I could do it all and run myself ragged but whether I should carry on with a packed work schedule even though I had the flexibility to move things around.
I didn’t respond out of impulse. I gave myself the time and headspace to check in and consider what I needed to have a good day. I planned around what I needed mentally, spiritually, physically and emotionally. That led to me shifting meetings, delegating, reevaluating what could be a quick Slack message, and clearing my schedule to the maximum extent possible so that I wouldn’t be stressed that day or the next.
I told my team that I was taking an unofficial sick day, which meant I was prioritizing my son but was available if needed. I wasn't constantly checking in because I have trust and confidence in my team and their competence.
My team didn't need me to do the most. They needed to see me as a manager modeling what self-care looks like. They needed to see that it is not only OK but necessary for us to prioritize appropriately, responsibily delegate and lead by example.
How to check in with yourself
After nearly 35 years of living with myself, there’s still a lot that I’m learning. My life has evolved and so has the way I invest in myself to feel at my best. It’s a continuous exercise that requires grace, flexibility and honesty. Do I always get it right? No. But that's where grace comes in.
Proactively setting my intention for the day and giving voice to how I want to feel has been a game-changer. This planning helps to keep me grounded when crises arise — and they will!
I’ve learned that you can blow your tactical to-do list out of the water and still have a meh kind of day. If that list didn't include activities that nurtured you and made you feel fulfilled, you will feel incomplete.
Here are some questions you can ask to identify what you need to have a good day:
What word best describes how you want to feel today?
What small, practical step can you take to embrace that feeling? This could be something related to your mental, spiritual, physical or emotional health. I need all bases covered : ).
What’s God telling you today?
How will you embrace what He is telling you?
This isn't an exhaustive list, but it's a start. Take it and make it your own. But whatever you do, don't make it burdensome. Knowing how you want to feel is enough to get you started.
Sound off in the comments, and let me know how you're planning for a good day ahead.