Using Your ‘Corner Time’ Wisely

It’s my first day off from work in 2 years. I’m serious. You’re probably thinking that I’m full of it. That it’s not true. Everybody takes off on the weekends. Well, while I may do less work on the weekends, holidays, Sundays, etc, somehow I seem to always manage to get at least a few hours in whether it’s writing, reading, or simply practicing speaking on emotional resilience. 

Well not this past Saturday. I vowed to the holiest of holies that I was going to take the day off.  “I deserve it,” I said to myself, trying to convince myself in the process.  Within minutes of getting in my car to head for the spot I was planning to run on Saturday morning, I could feel myself reaching for my phone to practice speaking.  I had to stop myself.  I felt a little irritation creep in, but I chose to put on my ‘Rat Pack’ spotify Playlist in the car instead of something from Brené Brown or some random informative Ted Talk or podcast.  Hell…I think at one point I considered even bringing up the idea of watching “Inside Out” as Saturday’s movie flick…not that I could’ve gotten away with it  (we had already chosen “Fantastic Four”…  No emotional theme there 🙂  

No blogging, vlogging, writing, listening, watching, no ANYTHING to do with work for 24 hours.

 As you can imagine, my inner critic had a great deal to say about this choice of mine.

“You know when you take a day off that’s when it starts… You stop writing as much, stop speaking as much, it’ll be like starting from scratch and having to do everything all over again… yeah, great idea taking the day off!” (My inner critic is plenty fluent in sarcasm).  

Another goodie that comes up is always, “You are totally going to lose your motivation to do any of this work you hold so dear, you know that right?  Let your guard down for one minute and you know you’re going to regret it.  Keep fighting for your self-worth, don’t let up, don’t sit down on that stool and take a break… ‘corner time’ is for others, not you.”

“Corner time” is what I call it when we give ourselves a break from the “bout” (‘Challenge’ that is causing us to grow in some way) we are courageously fighting.  It doesn’t matter if your bout is stretching as a parent, competing for a promotion at work, dealing with a sick or elderly parent… your “bout” is any challenge you deem worth of your energy, effort, and time.  

It can be difficult not to believe our inner critic when it’s pouring fear and self-doubt into our ear.   When we’re trying to be respectful of ourselves and the effort we’re making by actually taking our well-deserved “corner time”, we may hear, “We’re not good enough, strong enough, capable enough… really just fill in the blank ______ “enough.”  That’s our inner critic. It is keeping us scared of whether or not we’re actually going to be able to get up off that stool in the corner of our ring, and back into our bout.  The fear that inner critic fuels is that we need to keep our momentum at all costs… It doesn’t let us believe for an instant that we can trust and respect ourselves and the commitment we made. 

It’s hard to trust that once we sit down, take a break, allow ourselves to relax, we’ll have our back again, especially if we are far from familiar with taking our corner time.  Our inner critic is most likely whispering in our ear that if we give ourselves rest we will lose our fortitude, courage, and energy to get back into the bout.  But as our internal coach knows and reinforces in us: it is these well-deserved breaks in our “bouts” that truly enable us to sustain our efforts and make consistent and effective progress.  Progress that is lasting as well as self-motivating.

The next time your inner critic has you on the ropes believing that it’s better to continue in your “bout” without a break remember these major benefits to taking and making the most of your corner time:

You gain energy: W.B. Yeats wrote, “The world is full of magical things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.”  When we actually give ourselves permission to lessen our energetic grip around a goal or challenge that is important to us, our five senses become keener at figuring out what needs to be done.  By taking time to mentally and physically recharge, we come back to the dogged pursuit of our goals with renewed energy and vigor for the task at hand.

You honor yourself and gain appreciation:  It is exceptionally difficult to continue to appreciate and feel inspired by any goal or challenge that is draining your energy if your fears won’t allow you to take a break from it.  We show ourselves gratitude for a hard effort not with just ‘positive self-talk’, but by actually ‘walking the walk’ by actually giving ourselves the well-deserved rest we need. John F. Kennedy once said, “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”

So, as I drive, I turn up Frank Sinatra’s “Come Fly with me!” and allow my mind to drift into my run on some of my favorite local trails.  When I’m done, I’m keeping my vow of being fully present and enjoying time with my family, uninterrupted by anything.  I am grateful for the ability to have these 24 hours of corner time to recharge myself fully.  Tomorrow I’ll get off the stool and back into the bouts that are so important to me… I have no doubt!