Red Light or Green Light Kind of Day
Have you ever thought about your day in the context of our traffic lights? I had not either, until recently. Let me share the revelation I had.
Some days are “green lights” where what you intend to get done that day actually happens. You feel fully in control of calendar, the time allotted for each task or meeting is accurate, and you are riding on a high based on what is being accomplished.
There are some days where you are “stopped” at every red light throughout the day. A few times during the day, you hit a green light to gain momentum…until the red lights happen and cause that uncomfortable start and stop feeling. What was that old-fashioned term? Herky-jerky. Start, stop, start, stop, etc.
My recent experience
Recently, I moved to a nearby town… just a few towns over. To do this local move, I found myself driving more than usual between the two locations to take over plants, clothes, lamps, glass shelves… you know – the small stuff that you just don’t trust the movers to take care of.
During this driving, back and forth, I experimented to find the shortest route or the best time of day with little to no traffic as I fit in this moving stuff activity between clients and speaking engagements. It was no surprise that that when I left at 4:30 am (yes, it really was that early), it was green lights with no traffic all the way.
Few obstacles in my way. Few stops. Best time ever.
On another day at 4:30 pm with the back seat and trunk loaded down with my precious cargo, it was red lights with LOTS of traffic all the way.
Many obstacles in my way. Lots of stops. Worst time ever.
This experience reminded me that the time we spend on tasks and life in general can be so affected by what is in our way. The obstacles. The external factors that cause us to stop, then go, then stop, then go, impacting our momentum. The internal factors are immense and the subject of another blog!
Are you like me? When I wake up in the morning and am ready to take on the day, I have the best intentions for it to be a “green light day”. I want it to be a smooth ride until I fall into bed later that night. I want to feel good, and to feel accomplished. Some days go like that, but many do not.
What I have learned from this experience:
Two key lessons jarred my awareness.
I have the conscious choice on my view of time.
Did it really matter if the trip took 22 minutes at 4:30 a.m. or 32 minutes at 4:30 p.m.? (No.)
Did the starts and stops of the trips derail me from my overall goal? (No… the stuff got there!)
Was I unnecessary frustrated by the “red lights”? (Yes.)
First lesson was to realize how I react to each “red light” that I encounter during the day, does matter. I can get angry, obsess over each red light, or get frustrated. Or I can choose to acknowledge the “stop”, let it go and move on.
Second lesson was to accept that — time is time. The clock keeps ticking. When I am “stopped”, maybe that is a time to take a breath, reflect and accept the quick break. Being mindful of my overall goal kept me on track.
Most days are neither all red lights or all green lights, but rather a mix of the two. As such, I remind myself to pay attention to what matters most right now. My five favorite words. Each morning, I ask myself what are the 2-3 most important tasks that I need accomplish that day. Knowing those, I can stay focused on what will determine a successful day or not.
Next time you are driving and say to yourself, “I am hitting every red light”, remind yourself that those quick stops are not obstacles, but rather a time to reflect.
Next time when you feel that your day is littered with “red lights”, stopping you at every turn, just consider that how you think about those obstacles does matter. You have the choice to rise above them.
Lauren Midgley, business strategist, time behaviorist, speaker and author, based in Dallas-Ft. Worth area. She works with business owners to master productivity and profits in their business. She knows that with focus, there can be greater profits, less stress, and a better way of life. Her book, It’s 6 a.m & I’m Already Behind: Strategies to Get Caught Up can be obtained at her website www.LaurenMidgley.com