A few years ago, I started to track how much time I'd 'lost' from people forgetting to turn up to meetings that they'd asked for with me, or from groups who'd booked me to run workshops for them, only to cancel them the day before.
My reason for this wasn't motivated by spite or indignation, but rather to try and quantify and understand the extent of the impact of such occurrences on my business; and what that meant in turn for how well I could earn money to support my family.
The first time I reported this figure was in 2020 - and it a showed a whopping £4,560 over the year; equivalent to treating my family to a meal out once a week every week of the year.
Sadly, that figure has continued to rise year on year, and since 2020 it's jumped by over 80% to the latest reported value of £8,325!
That's about £160 a week that I otherwise could have earned - nearly £700 a month: almost the average cost of renting a family home in the UK!
Over the last 18 years since I've become self employed, I've always tried to practice the value of grace in different ways - which to date, includes not penalising people who are causing me to incur these lost earnings (which, frankly, would be very welcome in my bank account in light of current inflationary and cost of living pressures). I could have been charging them a percentage of what I would have otherwise realised from working with them in those periods of time: a common practice in the terms and conditions amongst my fellow consultants and training providers.
But in light of people and groups seeming to be becoming more dismissive of recognising the impact (hurt) that their not trying to make effort to have the courtesy of letting me know when they know that they they're not going to be able to spend the time with me that they'd agreed to, and with sufficient notice for it not to cause me further financial distress, maybe I need to start introducing some 'nudges' in my own T&C's?
And that sucks - because, as I wrote before, I'm aware of how messy and unpredictable the world can be at times, and we can't always know when we're going to be knocked sideways. But surely, if we all know how much we're all struggling, we should at least be trying to make an effort to recognise when a change in our own circumstances may affect others, by having the courtesy to give each other a quick heads-up?
Perhaps by starting to include some penalties in how I agree to work with people, that might help to start to nudge behaviours so that we can all become a little more sympathetic, understanding, and supportive of each other?
But doing so would mean I'm starting to compromise on what I try and hold as one of my core values - perhaps after 18 years it's time I accepted that I can't carry on being so idealistic?