My girlfriend Maya and I just got back from our first weekend alone without our daughter, Bellamy.

We spent the weekend under the falling orange, yellow, and red leaves of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia. We explored caverns, detoxified in a wood-burning outdoor sauna (I jumped in the freezing cold dipping pool; Maya passed), got massages, and tasted eight different wines while relaxing at a vineyard on top of Stone Mountain.

But most of all, and best of all, we slept.

It was a reset that we both have needed for a long time.

Now that I’m already midway through this week and life’s stresses of impending deadlines, demanding clients, perpetual bills, and a broken HVAC unit have got me back in their clutches, I have a hard time realizing how we made that five day trip happen.

The only way we did is because we scheduled it.

Even as the dates of the trip approached, we still struggled to figure out the details of where we were going and exactly what we were doing. It showed me that if we hadn’t already asked her mom to watch Bellamy in advance, and committed ourselves to going, it probably wouldn’t have happened.

Inevitably, “urgent” matters that may not be important to maintaining and improving our relationship would arise and we’d unconsciously allow them to creep to the top of the priority list.

The idea of taking this trip actually came from my business coach — who’s more of a life coach or mentor. We’ll just call him a good friend. Back at our last meeting in August, he urged me to schedule some time just for the Maya and myself.

That’s because he realized that it’s all tied together — work, leisure, relationships, etc. It’s all life. And all of them affect our overall well-being and if we want to be fulfilled and fully integrated, we need to protect and maintain all of them.

I was talking with a friend the other day about how to find time for himself. He was beat down with his business and struggling to come up for air. But he desperately needed a break, even if just for an hour, and he realized that. I told him to make an appointment with himself.

He kind of laughed, a bit confused.

“I’m serious.” I said. “You make to put it on the calendar or it doesn’t exist.”

Image via Maya Cooke

This is a practice I implemented earlier this year.

I schedule my workouts, meditation, reading, writing time, and even my leisure time. Sometimes that even means scheduling an hour or two to watch Netflix and have a beer.

If it’s not on the books, someone will ask for a meeting or a phone call and when I check my calendar and see an open block, I’ll always agree and keep delaying those important tasks.

Now, I don’t have to. I’m booked. While I first thought about telling people, “Sorry, I have scheduled a date with myself,” during those times, I don’t think that connotes the right idea.

Instead, I just tell them I’m simply unavailable at that time.

Personal development author Steve Pavlina says:

It can take a bit of courage to say no to genuine requests for your time in order to create enough space for the important. With practice you’ll get used to saying no, both to your own distractions and those coming from others.

I told my friend that he should literally book himself for an hour or so each day to just take a walk. With 24 hours in a day, anyone can do that. Anyone. Those that say they don’t have the time do have the time, they just haven’t been willing to make the time.

It’s a classic case of maintenance and prevention.

The issues that we are causing ourselves, our business, and our relationships in the long term by neglecting the attention the important needs will undoubtedly be more costly. Like achieving most things, it’s best to give those needs time and attention a little bit, often, over the long term.

Maya and I have agreed to have one lunch date every week, one date night every month, one trip every quarter (and one trip sans Bellamy every 6 months!) and one international trip a year.

She just walked out of my office and forgave me for missing our lunch date this week.

Taking time for ourselves must be working.

Featured image via Maya Cooke

Picture via Rain Bennett

Rain Bennett is a two time Emmy-nominated filmmaker, fitness professional, public speaker, and writer. His mission is simple: to help people realize that they too can be great, no matter where they come from or what they start with. It just takes passion, persistence, and a plan.

Bennett directed and produced his first feature length documentary in true indie fashion by traveling the world with only a backpack and a Canon DSLR camera. That film, Raise Up: The World is Our Gym won “Best of the Fest” at the Hip Hop Film Festival NYC and received global distribution through Red Bull Media House. He’s been featured in publications like Men’s Health and Sports Business Global and is a regular contributor to Breaking Muscle. When he’s not making movies or training clients at Sync Studio in Durham, he’s hosting a new webseries called The Perfect Workout Show.