Eight years ago, my message was clear when I was being interviewed by my current employer. I responded, “I’ll get it done, no matter what it takes.” Back then, I thought that’s what made a great event planner. Only through years of living my own motto did I learn that I was getting everything done for everyone else, and giving myself the scraps. That gets old fast.
Event planners are notorious for being people-pleasers—giving our time, energy and creativity to our clients, colleagues, employers and, ultimately, the event. “I just have to get it done,” often runs through our heads. But, have you ever asked yourself who’s showing up today? Are your clients getting you at your best?
I sat down with Nova Browning Rutherford, a wellness and personal development coach and keynote speaker, who shared helpful tips and best practices to ensure the event planner showing up each day is their best self.
STOP. NOTICE. CHANGE.
Event planners are like jugglers; we’ve got a million balls in the air and hope to catch them all. So it’s no surprise that mindfulness was an important part of our discussion. Rutherford explains that there are three main things with mindfulness: your thoughts and feelings, physical environment and bodily sensations. “You must recognize each in a nonjudgmental manner,” she says.
Picture yourself on event day: You haven’t eaten; you’re exhausted; and you’re not paying attention to your thoughts, feelings, environment or body. When you are not tuned in, you are running on autopilot. “Mindfulness is the act of stopping and noticing to change,” she says. There is a time to be on autopilot and a time to be dialed in. You need to know the difference.
Pay attention to yourself off-site. Ask: Am I smiling? Am I hearing what the client is requesting or complaining about? Am I being snappy or agitated? This way you can take a minute to assess and do what’s best for you.
When you bring yourself back to the here and now, you are changing the neural pathways in your mind. By being mindful, you will see a reduction in stress, and your mood, health, energy, performance and creativity will soar.
Chances are, if you’re an event planner, you likely say yes too much. You skip yoga class or bail on dinner with friends because a last-minute request has come in. You run yourself into the ground and are exhausted all the time. You say yes and then resent it and even complain about it. Does this sound familiar? I know it did for me.
“The idea is that my cup runneth over. What’s in the cup is mine, and the overflow is for you,” says Rutherford. Boundaries must be set for those who constantly give to others. If you are not giving enough of yourself to yourself it will be reflected in your work performance, attitude and other areas of your life. “Teach people how to treat you by treating yourself properly first,” she suggests.
Rutherford shares some helpful tips when setting boundaries: Always start with what you can do and think about what version of yourself will be showing up. Will I be at my best? Will I be dialed in? Take a moment to respond rather than automatically saying yes.
Hour of Power
Many of us who travel for events understand how exhausting those long days are. In order to be at our best, Rutherford stresses the importance of taking an “hour of power” on those busy travel days. “Do your best to make the hotel your sanctuary,” she suggests. “Use the opportunity to travel to be alone.” While the time on the road is for work, Rutherford says to reframe it as a mini vacation without having to cook your own food or clean your room.
The “hour of power” consists of three simple things: a bath, rest and visualization.
- First, take 20 minutes to soak in an Epsom salts bath. The salts can be transported easily in a Ziploc bag. It helps you to relax and decompress before arriving at the venue or to ‘get the travel off’ of you.
- Then, take 20 minutes to lie down or utilize quiet time—but, beware: napping for any greater time gets you into REM sleep and you wake up groggy.
- Lastly, she suggests 20 minutes to assess how you want your day and the event to go. Visualize the room, the event and daily operations. This preparation helps calm and bolster you to receive whatever comes your way.
This process may sound hard or tough to fit in, but, trust me, I was at my breaking point before I began practicing mindfulness two years ago. Within this time, I’ve made myself the priority. I have set boundaries with clients and have garnered more respect from them while carving out more time for myself. I have become a better event planner, more creative and working at a higher level than ever before. This is not to say I don’t work hard or work long hours or get stressed. However, I understand that I have the power to choose my thoughts, feelings and decisions. And, now, you do too.