Friday, November 17, 2017

Find Some Breathing Room in Your Life. How to Start in 3 Easy Steps

Look at this woman in the photo.  Doesn't she look relaxed, serene, content? Don't you just want to push her off that cliff?  (That's jealous me talking.)

But I digress....So last week I declared ENOUGH with the Fitbit and other things, and this was the first step in an easier, less stressful life.  But what’s next? 

I've been reading all I can on the subject, and based on that research, here is what I suggest in getting started.

#1 Know  What You Want to Gain  (If you find it difficult to answer these questions, jump to #4, then come back)

You don't have to know exactly, and it's okay to change your mind about things as you go through the journey, but you have to have a destination that inspires you to action. Take 15 minutes and answer:
  • What would  a great day look like to you?
  • What would you be doing?
  • Who are you hanging with?
  • How do you feel throughout and at the end of the day? Serene, productive, yet not stressed.  Exhilarated by new adventures you now have time for. Dare I say...happy? 
  • What do you value?
  • Imagine you only had 5 years left to live. What do you want to achieve, learn, accomplish or experience?
Not that I am trying to influence you or anything because this is your journey, but a little food for thought while you are thinking about the answers to the questions below.  Several studies and interviews with hospice patients have all pointed to these three things for bringing lasting joy to a person's life:
  1. Relationships
  2. Meaning
  3. Goals
(If you want to read more on the subject read, "Man's Search for Meaning" by Viktor Frankl.  Very short read, yet one of the most powerful books I have ever read.)

#2 Where are you now? What takes up your time today?

1) Where does your time go on a typical day.  How much time do you spend in the following areas:
  • Personal
  • Family
  • Realtionship
  • Friends
  • Work (This could be actual paid work or housekeeping/ unpaid work.  However you define work.)
  • Community/Volunteer 
2) Write down an approximation of your typical day - all of it.  How long does it take you to get ready, get the kids out the door, social media time, sleep time, etc., in a typical day.  No one is seeing this, so be honest.

3) Graph the pie.  Put the approximate time percentages for each of the categories.  

#3 Compare where you are to where you want to be

Do your daily tasks and pie line up with your stated values and goals from #1? No? So how do you get to where you want to be?

First, realize this is a journey.  This isn't just about getting rid of some clutter, although it could be if that's all you want it to be.

For me, this is about permanently making the time for what I say is important to me.  Things like: 
  • Having the time to really listen to what my children are saying and getting to know and appreciate the person that they are becoming.
  • Enjoying time with the signifiant other instead of waiting until retirement for more time.  There will never be enough time unless I make it happen.  
  • Getting rid of obligations that I don't really want to go to that steal my time from what I do want to do. 
  • Finding a way to volunteer that doesn't make me want to stick a fork in my eye.  A gig that uses my talents and skills.  Not sure what that is yet, but I look forward to finding out. 
  • Learning how to make a quilt. (I don't know why, I just want to.) 

#4 What if you don't know what you want to do?

Lucky you.  Lucky you because you get to discover and that's always fun. Start with what brings you joy, contentment, relaxation, or excitement? 

As you go through your day ask yourself, how do I feel about what I am doing right now? Meeting someone for lunch and sort of dreading it? That's a clue. Working on a project and you just do't want to do it, but you said yes, so now your committed? That's a clue.

Also, notice what you are doing that relaxes you or brings you joy. For me some things are:

  • Organizing my books (or anyone's) brings me joy.
  • Had a great conversation with my 10 year old regarding Hitler and WWII.  Heavy conversation, but how awesome to see how his brain works.
  • Playing Minecraft.  Creating a blank world and bringing order to it. Plus my kids love it so double bonus. 
  • Taking 5 minutes to put on makeup.  It relaxes me.  I often come up with solutions to problems I'm having out of the blue. Don't discount the little things. 
How about thinking about what you liked to do as a kid. Finger paint, draw, read, swim, run, sit outside and stare at the clouds?  Now go back to #1.

That's more than enough for this week.  Remember, no judgments about how you feel about some of the things, people, and obligations in your day.  As I tell my kids (and myself), you can feel however you feel. It's your actions that have consequences, and we are not talking about actions.....yet.

Next week, we begin to identify some items that need to change for us to have the life we say we want.  Don't worry, we are easing into this, and we will start with low hanging fruit/easy wins for now. 

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