I want to share something that has been weighing heavily on my mind the past few weeks and hopefully I can articulate it in a way that may resonate with you.
Lately, I’ve been struggling with multiple competing expectations and trying to figure out where to invest my time and energy. I get emotionally fed from working directly with people; speaking, coaching, and consulting. That part of my work is so rewarding as I am truly inspired by watching people develop and grow. Fundamentally it is my purpose. I know that and I try to make sure it’s a large part of what I do.
The challenge is that so much of what I do that doesn’t involve working with people. Leadership events require coordination. Speaking requires logistical planning. Memoir writing happens in isolation. And while it all is work that leads to my purpose, it is also not feeding me in the same way.
Now I realize you may be reading this and hearing it as a complaint. You may be assuming that I only want to do the glamorous work and not want to put in the sweat and tears. Trust me, that’s not what I am saying. It’s more that I’ve been reflecting on my time and wondering how I best balance the work that drains me (which is still important work that needs to be done) with the work that feeds my soul.
- How do I make sure I am putting self-care first and family time a close second?
- How do I remain focused and dedicated to writing an emotionally challenging memoir?
- I am not Superman no matter how often I pretend to be.
Awareness is the first step and I realize that. I decided it was time to employ some of the resilience strategies that I frequently help other people master. After all, I don’t believe in “do as I say, not as I do” I believe in walking the talk and because I was in a bit of my own “spin cycle” it was time for me to step up and take action.
If you find yourself in a similar situation, please read on. I am going to give you three things that will help give you clarity, keep you moving towards your purpose, and help you climb out from the spin cycle.
These are the exact things that I did recently to begin to regain my own focus and strive for balance and presence.
- Remember to Pause – It is a simple concept but one many of us forget. When you find yourself feeling irritable, frustrated, discontent, or just plain “blah” take a moment to pause. Ask yourself, “What’s going on with me?” Become in tuned to your body. Perhaps you’re hungry. Maybe you haven’t been sleeping. Maybe you haven’t done something that feeds your spirit recently. Don’t jump to solutions, just simply pause and explore. Grab a piece of paper and free write all your thoughts and emotions. Let yourself be in the moment.
When I paused I realized that I hadn’t been sleeping enough. I wasn’t eating good quality foods (grabbing sugar to help keep me awake) and I hadn’t made cuddling my kids a top priority.
- Give yourself Permission – Sometimes when things are chaotic and you are going 100 miles an hour, it’s easy to miss what’s most important. After you pause give yourself permission to slow down and be present. You may not be able to solve everything right away, but give yourself permission to prioritize your life putting yourself and family first. Consider something like a short walk after dinner, reading (instead of watching TV) before bed, getting a massage, taking a bath, cuddling your kiddos if applicable. Whatever it is, realize that when you start to spin you are probably the last thing on your list. Move yourself up to the top and give yourself permission to take care of you in whatever way that may be.
I gave myself permission to take time off. I took CTO from my full-time job and completely unplugged from my business and writing. I used the time to be present with my family and take care of myself. I relaxed and recharged and after four simple days off I came back much stronger and ready to tackle new challenges.
- Focus – This final tip is not always easy but can have huge rewards. Focusing means reducing distractions, recognizing that you can really only do one thing at a time well, and then prioritizing to find what is most important. Sometimes I find myself juggling multiple tasks having several browsers open on my computer while talking on the phone. It ends up that I don’t complete any of them well, certainly not at my best anyway. Allow yourself to prioritize keeping your purpose and goals in mind. Ask yourself “What’s most important” and do that first. Continue to ask yourself throughout the day, week, months, so that you are completing the most important work first. If you aren’t sure of what’s important consider your purpose as keeping it on the forefront should help with importance.
I recognized I was anything but focused and because I was feeling overwhelmed I simply felt stuck. After I returned from CTO, I started thinking about my purpose – to truly help people and organizations be the best that they can be. I thought about what I needed to be able to do that for others; self-care and family time. That had to be first. After that I needed to have dedicated time for memoir writing, that can’t just happen on its own. I spoke with my spouse about scheduling dedicated time for writing and we made a plan. I also thought about work that I could delegate and brought in a team to support me.
One thing I know is that life is full of interesting opportunities to explore and learn. We can choose to coast through it or we can put into practice daily self-reflection to help us move towards a more fulfilling state of being. We can work to intentionally learn from all moments and recognize that being in a spin-cycle is simply an SOS. It’s time to pull back and regroup.
Today I feel better than last week but things are never perfect. These three tips are part of my regular practice. When I begin feeling tension and discomfort I move inward and explore. Next time you feel that way, give these tips a try. At the very least you’ll be practicing resilience and at best you’ll gain some interesting insights that will help you to grow.
What additional practices do you follow when you feel stuck? I’d love to hear from you!