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…with work lately.
It’s time to come clean. Craig has been traveling for work a good bit over the last few months. While the husband’s been away, this cat hasn’t been about play at all.
The reality has looked something like this: Eat an early dinner. (Little known fact: I love eating dinner at the geriatric, early bird hour whenever possible.) Go for a walk or a perhaps a ladies’ walk-n-talk. Get home and shower. Go into my home office to read or respond to just one thing. And then why not just one more thing? And one more after that…until…shit…it’s 10:30 PM. Craig is calling me. It’s now dark out; and hours have disappeared.
Now, this evening routine might work really well for some of you. It might even sound like a flow state. However, you’d be totally wrong. I’m somewhat of a morning person on a 7am - 11pm schedule. Generally after 7-8 PM, “work” can be defined as “25% painfully slow sentence composition + 25% poorly comprehended reading + 25% social media trolling with the attention span of a gnat + 25% actual productive shit getting done.” Instead of being excited to catch-up with my far-flung husband, I’ve often felt a little toasted and disconnected when we talk. Instead of drifting off to sleep easily on those nights, my brain is way too stimulated. It’s working the graveyard shift editing the half-ass work I tried to produce earlier. Sometimes, I’ve even woken myself up dictating something I was thinking or writing earlier. Out. Loud. Instead of waking up feeling accomplished for my efforts, I feel groggier than other days and a good bit guilty for not going pencils (and laptops and devices) down.
If this sounds all too familiar, here's a way to stay ahead of the just one more thing urge:
- Stop telling yourself that you don’t have time. Seriously, stop it right now. Because you really do have the time + space for everything you want to be, do and create.
- Call it reframing. Call it mantra-making. Tell yourself you do have time…clearly, assertively and, most definitely, out loud. (For me, it’s something like: There is time + space for everything I want to do + create.)
- Now, breathe deeply and listen to what noise your Itty Bitty Shitty Committee whirls up inside your head. There will likely be some internal resistance. Perhaps a big nuh-uh.
- Breathe again.
- Say it again. Maybe you have to say every day for the next week or the next month. Maybe you have to doodle it on a post-it note. Maybe you have to tattoo it on your forehead. (Backwards, so you can read it in a mirror, please.)
What do you have to lose besides 2 potentially perspective-shifting seconds? Because you and I both know that telling ourselves we don’t have time on repeat is 100% completely not helping us get shit done. It’s mostly just serving to make the process harder and to ratchet up the stress factor. Do you really need more stress in your life?
If this worked for you or you have an even better idea to share, I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
(Sometimes, it's a lack of prioritization, not time. If that's even remotely your situation, check out this post.)
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Way back in January, did you notice how everyone seemed to be coming up with their 3-word vision for 2014? It was going to be the MOST EPIC and MOST UNBELIEVABLY FUCKING AWESOME year of their WHOLE LIFE EVER because they had three words written to describe themselves, their businesses or their hopes and aspirations for all of 2014.
I’m not going to lie: I get excited about a lot of stuff. I can be damn near evangelical when I’ve had a great experience in any way, shape or form. But there’s just something about lemming hype that gives me a special sort of pause. I’m never one to jump off a bridge just because everyone else was doin’ it, especially when it seemed impractical.
Honestly, New Year’s Day has started to really gross me out, especially as a health & lifestyle professional. It’s become a time for gimmicky fast fixes, yet quick returns to old habits. That’s not my style. So, this create-your-3-word sword exercise that will radically slay all of your shortcomings was banned from my task list in 2014.
So, I thought…
As an entrepreneur, I often set aside time to be creative and introspective about my business and how I can better fit into it. I found a writing exercise that asked me to write down the first 10 words that describe me. Nothing like a beach-y change in scenery over Independence Day to get the creative juices flowing.
Fierce Pragmatic Irreverent Empathetic Intuitive Scrappy Creative Committed Energetic Whipsmart
Done and done. Then, I gasped when I saw the next instruction:
“Good. Now use the first three words on that list…” Sometimes, you have to eat those words.
What are YOUR 10 words? How about sharing them in the comments below?
While rebooting and recharging off the grid at a wifi-free Québécois lake house, I recognized how time bankrupt I was during my LLS Woman of the Year campaign. While I recognized that the campaign was a temporary, 10-week sprint, that pace was entirely unsustainable and, let's be real, totally undesirable to me. If I was working (yes, I'm loathe to admit this as a health + lifestyle gal) 14+ hour days, watching my task list accumulate, and dreaming about projects that I wanted to be doing, something was busted. Come hell or lakefront high water, I wasn't returning from Canada to that frazzly pace again.
Ever an accountant, I ran some numbers while my husband, Craig, slept in one morning. That single investment of 15 minutes of my time has yielded huge shifts in both my personal and my entrepreneurial lives. When I say huge shifts, I mean things like stepping down from a board of directors, saying no to several events, starting a big, scary, yet exciting, creative project and actually seeing people I love without 3-6 week advance notice.
Want to try it? Here's what you need: a piece of paper, a pen, 15 minutes, and a calculator for those of you who dislike subtraction.
Write down the number 168 at the top of the page. Just do it. Unless you've figured out a way to time-travel, 168 is the great equalizer. We all get 168 hours each week to spend.
Now, let's spend those hours. From 168, list out and start substracting how much time you need to:
- Sleep (Hint: Anything less than 49-56 here is going to negatively impact the quality of the remaining 112-119 hours.)
- Food prep + eating + dining
- Bathing + hygiene
- Exercise + movement
- Work + commute
- Family/social relationships
- Anything else to which you're currently commited or eats your time in any way, shape or form. Seriously, list it out.
You're going to end up with a number. If that number is:
- <0: Come on back to the realm of reality, home skillet. You don't get more than 168 hours. Something has to give before your health and sanity does. What can you let go of to at least break even and avoid feeling like a failure each week?
- 0-7: This means that you only average 1 hour each day to react to things like traffic, spills, sickness or whatever unexpected curveball The Universe might pitch at you, as well as last minute opportunities. What activities are you willing to trade to have more wiggle room in your own life and feel more satisfied?
- 7+: You have a little room to breathe and react, but are you happy with how you're spending your time currently? Where can you be a little more strategic?
What's your number?
Driving this number (and your overall health) up is what I do. I'm here to help. Here's how.
These days, one of my favorite moments is when I tell a prospective client or a fellow health practitioner that I was a Certified Public Accountant for more than a decade. Peoples’ reactions range from a jaw-drop to comments about how I don’t look like an accountant to unabashed dismissal. As the character Holly Golightly once said, “It’s useful being the top banana in the shock department.”
People commonly assume that CPAs only do taxes. Not true. I was a CPA who got my start in troubled debt restructuring and bankruptcy for one of the largest global firms. Basically, a failing company’s leadership called us when the financial shit hit the proverbial fan. Then, a team of us would arrive to interview people, triage the situation, attempt to stop the cash flow hemorrhaging, functionally look at what may have caused the problem and create a plan to control the chaos.
The industry was fast-paced, high-stress, high-travel, and male-dominated. For me, it was a gut-rotting job that forced me to self-educate on healing my own roiling guts. No hyperbole here: I used to eat a giant bottle of antacids every 2 weeks and regularly cogitate publicly shitting my pants in the airport terminal vs. while scampering over people and luggage on the airplane. Don’t even get me started about that seatbelt light. I was just so fucking busy working (and rotting) that I had no idea health coaches even existed or a doctor could do more than slap a name on my condition. So, I did what I’ve always done when I want to know something: I hit the books. Anatomy books. Nutrition books. Self-help books that I sometimes wrapped in brown paper bags to avoid the prying eyes of coworkers or old dudes on 1st class flights who had way too many drinks.
Applying the sometimes contradictory theories and research proved a lot more challenging, especially considering the Type-A lifestyle I was leading with full-tilt New York swagger. The double-whammy was my double-Ivy-Leagued doctor’s reticence to even discuss the effects of dietary or lifestyle changes. Eventually, I did what I was trained to do. I took a data-driven, systematic approach and interviewed myself about the results. What happens when I get 6 hours of sleep at night instead of 4? What happens when I eat a salad vs. Chinese takeout for lunch every day this week? What happens if I stop dating narcissists? What happens if I worked for an employer devoid of partners who joked, “Associates are like pencils: Break one; buy another?” It took me years of trial and error, but I shed about 20% of the old physical me and stopped eating antacids like some demented food group. Most importantly, I stopped nearly shitting my pants in public on a regular basis.
That said, it’s endlessly amusing when people almost instantly question my ability to help my clients improve their overall health. You haven’t taken organic chemistry??? Gasp!!! (You can add any other dogmatic belief that mentally stymies people here.) It also signifies a blatant misunderstanding of the role of a health coach, or as I like to call myself, a health + lifestyle strategist. Because as I see it, I’m applying the same skills in a more personally fulfilling way. Let’s be honest: No one reaches out to me because they feel awesome. 100% of the time my clients are experiencing something incredibly painful or frustrating. Because I feel “data” is so essential to the process, I have clients start considering their own “data” even before our very first session. Once we start talking, it’s about presenting questions and critically thinking about the interconnectedness of different areas of their lives. Together, we evaluate where things aren’t functioning so well and strategize how to make a plan to improve them. We test and collect more data. We measure according to plan and adjust as necessary.
Whether it’s bankrupt companies or health-bankrupt people, it’s still turnaround work. Except now, I just get more hugs and gratitude from my awe-inspiring clients.