Sweaters are on and little kids are leaving our building to walk up the hill to school. Last week, my husband Roberto packed up the car and left for his school up north. We have resumed our routine of weekdays apart and weekends together. So far, this year is easier than last, because as with most change, it is easier when you know what to expect.
Last month, I wrote to you about my full plate and the need to decide what to set down and what to pick up. I have been reflecting on this idea and talking to people about it, including a few conversations that came out of my last email letter.
When you are busy – don’t you find it is a bit more complicated than just re-evaluating your life and your time and saying no to a few things in order to make room for more? The advice we all get is to learn to just say no. It has been the advice I have followed and given plenty of times. I tell myself every time I overschedule and I tell my stretched thin clients – “Just take something off your plate.”
Is it really that easy? I don’t think it is. Yes, I should say no to a few more things. But there is a bigger question that wants to be asked, “Why does it seem like my packed calendar does not match what I want from my life or I thought I wanted from this season of my life?”
Before you say “yes” or say “no”, you need to know why. What do you value? What do you want from your life and your time?
Have you ever had a moment where you are not sure if your time matches your priorities, values or dreams? Maybe it is happening right now.
When reflecting on this for myself I came up with a different answer than I expected.
As this busy summer ended I felt like my time had been packed to the gills and I had an uneasy feeling that I was missing something. I had spent my time doing more work with clients than ever before. And more time with my husband and immediate family.
I checked in with myself and asked “Is how I am using my time matching with my priorities and values?”
The knee-jerk reflection was NO! I “should” have had more time this summer swimming in lakes. I missed seeing friends!
Then I reflected further and realized that something else had shifted. Normally, being outside and with friends is what is important to me during the summer. I love my friends! Yet I was delivered two amazing gifts this summer – my business is growing and my husband, who usually does not live in the same town as me, was home all summer. My priorities have changed for the time being. I put my husband, close family and business first. My calendar reflects a change in priorities.
My mind did not catch up and felt like something was left behind. And it was. When your priorities shift, even momentarily, you do have to say good bye to other things. You have to make hard choices.
Maybe this is true for you too. Maybe something in your life has shifted. External circumstances beyond your control can completely change what you need to focus your time on. It can take a while for our brain to catch up with the change.
When you feel like what you spend your time doing is not in line your priorities and values you may begin to feel sick – physically or emotionally. Your body knows when you aren’t living in a way that is true to your core needs or when you have not acknowledged a shift that is happening or needs to happen in your life.
Perhaps, right now you are feeling great about what you do with your days. For the most part, what you spend your time doing matches what you care about and what you want to move forward in your life. If this is the case in your life right now, reflect on that and then CELEBRATE the HECK out of it!
However if, like me, you find that your time is not being spent in a way that matches your values and priorities. The first trick is to notice this. Maybe your priorities have changed. Maybe your time has been overtaken by outside forces.
Here are a few reflection questions to help you figure out if your calendar does not match with your priorities or values and WHY:
- Has something in your external world changed?
- Has this change brought about a change in your priorities or how you need to spend your time?
- Have you changed?
- What are you craving from your life now? In the future?
- What are the most important things to you right now? The people? The things you want to support?
- Does your calendar reflect your priorities, hopes and values?
- AND does your calendar have breathing room for you?
It can be hard to look at how we spend our time against what we care about and what our goals are. If we look closely it could mean a major life shift is happening or needs to happen. It could also mean we will need to change behaviors. The tricky thing is if you do not take a look at your priorities and your time, that disconnect can lead to continuous stress and even worse, illness.