What Are You Doing with the White Space in Your Calendar … and WHY?

The reason you don’t have more time in your week and calm in your life is because you don’t want it.

I can hear the collective gasp right now! Thousands of readers reacting with “Nicole have you lost your mind? Of course, I want more time and calm in my life!” Well, before you dismiss me, I invite you to keep reading with an open mind.

Let me take you through a day in the life of a typical entrepreneur that I work with. They sit down each morning and look at their calendar with anxiety and trepidation. The voice in their head is running on a loop … “ I just wish I had some more time. I wish I could get some calm and peace and quiet.” In this same moment, this dear client of mine notices white space in their calendar.

Instead of getting excited and protecting this white space and planting a flag in that sucker and claiming it for themselves. What do you think they do instead? You may know because you’ve done this. They immediately begin to feel guilty, worry about what they could be doing, and even deeper than that, they don’t really know what to do with that space because it feels a bit dangerous.

So they immediately start filling up that beautiful, empty white space with more stuff to do. Whew! Crisis averted! They can get back into the familiar loop of lamenting not having any time, nor peace and quiet and calm. Even though this mantra feels frantic and disempowering, it is one that is familiar and provides a twisted sense of comfort.

I was telling this story to a group of peers at a conference recently and they reacted with disbelief. They asked, “What do you mean when you say that they don’t really want time or calm? There is always so much to do. They are obviously hustling and building their business.”

I understand their reaction. However, in my work as a therapist for over 18 years and in my work coaching entrepreneurs around mindset, it has become abundantly clear to me that we often say we want something that deep down we really do not know how to let ourselves have.

That one bears repeating: We often say we want something that deep down we really do not know how to let ourselves have.

But why? There is a boatload of reasons. Let’s explore some of the most prevalent ones.

Entrepreneurs fill the white space in their calendars with more tasks and activity because of these:

  1. Childhood traumas — Many high functioning human beings have become successful by keeping themselves busy so they do not think about their negative, and even traumatic, experiences. Instead, they focus their energies on denying their past or running from it. The emotional act of running becomes a place of comfort. Rest and quiet and calm do not align with this coping mechanism. (Not sure if you’ve experienced little “t”trauma? Read this article I wrote to learn more.)

2. Rebelling against history — So many entrepreneurs begin a business out of rebellion against the beliefs and stories that they were brought up with. They push and grind their way through the act of creating a big old energetic middle finger to their past by their success. The challenge with this is that when they get what they wanted — success and some freedom — they don’t trust it and create more tasks and demands instead of resting and enjoying the fruit of their hard work.

3.“I’ve got something to prove.” — Being overlooked or underestimated creates a need to prove your worth. Being busy and putting others first and martyring your time is a way that many of my female entrepreneur clients and friends disempower themselves in their business through this old belief. They work themselves silly with no celebration of the amazing things they have accomplished. They have set up a dynamic with their business, that has replicated an old relationship with that person who told them they were not good enough or needed to work harder.

These 3 reasons may be surprising to you. I mean there is sooo much evidence as to why there is no time and so much to do. However, clients are telling me that they want one thing and their behaviors and beliefs are moving them away from that desire instead of towards it.

It is a red flag to me that there are deeper issues afoot that must be brought to light to help them create a business that is not only financially successful but also emotionally sustaining.

In reality, with many of my aspiring and successful entrepreneurs, the desire for white space and peace and quiet and calm is a story that they are telling themselves. The true story is that white space and peace and quiet and calm are scary, uncomfortable, and louder than the chaos.

What steps can you take to protect your white space?

  1. Schedule some in! We are human beings and we need time to daydream have quiet away from screens, and time to recharge. If you do not schedule it in, no one else will do it for you! If you won’t let yourself have some white space, you need to ask yourself “Why?”
  2. Protect the time you find! If you get some last-minute opening in your calendar or some white space you were not anticipating, take a breath. Let yourself have it. Ask yourself if piling new tasks into that space will really get you what you say you want today. If you won’t let yourself have some white space, you need to ask yourself, “Why?”
  3. Set boundaries! Setting boundaries with your time and your calendar can go a long way toward improving your daily life and business. Furthermore, when you have spontaneous whitespace, others are going to try to fill it up with their agendas if you let them. Have a plan for how to handle this. Even if it is just taking a breath and saying “Let me get right back to you,” and then analyzing if they really need to stake a claim in this new sacred time you found. If you won’t let yourself have some white space, you need to ask yourself, “Why?”

Did you notice that each of these steps ended with the same question? “If you won’t let yourself have some white space, you need to ask yourself, ‘Why?’” This is the most important question to answer so that your attempts to give it to yourself will actually take root and grow.

Want more? Great! I’ll help you discover one mental block holding you back from taking the next steps to protect your white space and grow your business. Join me for a free 30-minute session, plus I’ll give you at least 2 actions to take to release it. Apply for this opportunity by clicking here.

Does this article resonate with you? Please give it some claps and or share with your community!

Nicole Lewis-Keeber

Written by

Nicole Lewis-Keeber MSW LCSW is a business therapist and speaker helping entrepreneurs to create & nurture healthy relationships with their business.

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