What do you want for yourself this year? Have you taken some time to think about this? While you ponder this, I’m going to tell you what I want for you.
For you I want a year of balanced living, of feeling freedom in your week to enjoy your life while you achieve the things you want to achieve.
I want peace of mind for you.
I want you to enjoy your work – hell, I want you to LOVE getting out of bed because you LOVE what you get to do all day.
I want you to have fuel in the tank at the end of your workday to run around the garden with your daughters chasing fairies (they really do exist you know) or to start building that fort you promised the kids last summer.
I want you to find yourself having a sleep-over in that fort because you’ve got home on Friday night, not dragging yourself in from the car like a train wreck survivor, but feeling enlivened from a productive satisfying week, and ready to PLAY.
And if there are no kids and no fort, may the picnic blanket roll out under the tree in the backyard for a spontaneous romantic picnic by candlelight.
I want this fun, yummy, life-affirming stuff to be part of how you roll.
Your MO for the year. Your modus operandi.
And if that all feels a million light years away, hiding behind a giant asteroid right now, or if you feel in need of at least a little refresher on just how to make this happen more, read on, because I wrote this for you …
Life the right way up
Having life the right way up is partly about balance – having the right amount of everything in your day, week, month – but it’s also about having life shaped the way you want it from a lifestyle point of view, and having the things that really matter to you taking centre stage. You know when things are off if you’ve forgotten where you put that stash of novels picked up at a fair several months ago, if you’ve not talked to a once-pregnant friend who’s baby is about to turn 1, or if your last fishing trip with mates was, well, you can’t remember when. Or when you’re so tired you can’t even decide what takeaway to order on a Friday night, let alone check what ingredients are in the house to then think of something to cook … just let me at the couch!
When life is not the right way up, the important things fall by the way side while you’re busy running around doing, doing, doing, being everything to everyone, trying to be, let’s face it, PERFECT, and ‘should-ing’ all over yourself. Not very nice, is it?
The antidote? Well, there is no silver bullet as I’m sure you know, but let this be inspiration to get life the right way up – YOUR way up – this year…
1. Get life the right way up in your head
2. Work out what you really care about
3. Define your idea of life the right way up
4. Keep your eye on the ball of your key priorities
5. Be the master of your technology
- Get life the right way up in your head
Let’s start by getting our semantics in a useful order. After all, our language is a powerful filter through which we see and create our life every day. There is much talk around the traps these days about work-life balance – a quite frankly, un-useful term on the whole and I’ll tell you why. In fact, I reckon it had to be a workaholic that came up with the term ‘work-life balance’. Anyone in their right mind would have put it the other way around; life-work balance. This subtly reminds us that work is part of our life, not the first or only thing. Business Coach, Geoff Knox, has a great analogy of a bike for this phenomenon. He describes a lack of balance as having our work or business on the front wheel, leading everything else. Consequently we can feel as if we’re careening, or at least wobbling all over the place trying to stay in the seat. And it’s damn hard work, let’s face it.
We need to switch the wheels over, so that our life and lifestyle is in front. Then life is leading. In this way, we make better decisions at work about how to run the sales team, what to delegate, how to make sure we get the holidays we’ve planned with the family. Try putting all of your holidays for the year in your calendar before you schedule anything else and see how that feels!
And this is not about just having a joy ride (although I believe that is kind of the point). It’s about living and working sustainably. Geoff and I have both worked with various clients who have turned their business or work performance around once they got their ‘life’ in front.
- Work out what you really care about
When I see people at their most stressed, frustrated or miserable, it is often because there is conflict or mis-alignment between what they really value, and how they’re living their life – be it their job, their relationship or their lifestyle. This is when the head is over-ruling the heart knows – and you can fool yourself for a while (I’ve been there!) but it takes its toll. I share my experience of this over on my blog What I didn’t expect to learn at the marriage counsellor.
Working through values is one of my favourite things to do with clients because the process is not your average values exploration at all – it’s illuminating and profound. It’s not just about understanding what you value, but what order of priority they have in your life right now, which changes over time, and also how you are relating to those values at an unconscious level. How are they driving you at a deeper level? We cover this values process in my coaching packages and as part of some workshops and retreats.
- Define your idea of life the right way up
Whether you’re pretty close to the lifestyle and level of calm and fun you want, or only just starting to get it sorted, having a simple vision for what you want life to look like is very powerful. While I will often take clients through various formats for this like the values process, five-year planning, etc, it always helps to start with one piece of blank paper that you can capture your vision on. Write it, draw it, add a theme song, whatever does it for you – but start describing what an ideal day or week would look like to you, how you feel your lifestyle should be. If it was the ‘right way up’ how would you know?
- Keep your eye on the ball of your key priorities
Last year I saw a lot of people struggling to keep work contained within reasonable hours, finding it was spilling over the sides of their week like a pot of porridge on high. And the thing with a pot of porridge is that it’s really sticky and once it’s spilling over the edges it’s all a bit messy to clean up. It’s not a 30 second job. Such is a work week that is out of control.
The second thing I see a lot of is that horrible cycle of not achieving the vital / critical / strategic items that are most hot on ones agenda (and oh so easy to put off because rarely are they urgent), thus leaving work day after long work day having not made important inroads, feeling unproductive and dissatisfied, and consequently not really enjoying the old downtime because well, it doesn’t really feel deserved. Sound familiar? The trick is to make sure time is spent on the right stuff (with surplus tasks moved on, dealt with or deleted), and in so doing you get to feel thrilled with what you’re getting done, and feel much more relaxed about enjoying your evening or your weekend.
How do you get your week and key tasks under control? Here are two of my blogs on beating overwhelm and taking charge of how your week works, and what your key areas of focus are. It’s not rocket science, these strategies are simple and pretty time savvy – because I know you don’t need any more complexity or time consuming stuff to do.
Check out Blog 1 here and Blog 2 here.
- Be the master of your technology
When life is the right way up, daily life has an ease, a flow, a sense of time for anything that is important, a sense that you are here and in the moment making the most of your life. Technology now plays a big role in our daily life, whether you’re a gadget/device kinda guy/gal or not. I’m convinced that most of us are losing whole pockets of time, whole chunks of our lives as we get captivated by the latest Facebook post or Twitter feed. I’m convinced we’ve forgotten we invented machines, they didn’t invent us. And I’m afraid we’ve become quite unconscious of how our phones and other devices dictate how we operate during the day.
During the summer holidays I posted five top tips for holidaying with a smartphone in smart ways. Here are some of those tips in the context of a productive work day and a healthy lifestyle.
- Up your level of professionalism and calm by turning the ‘vibrate’ function off. This way, when your phone is switched to silent, it is actually silent. Anyone who has had to listen to someone’s phone vibrating in their pocket or briefcase during an important meeting knows it is NOT silent!
- Having a busy week? Feeling hounded by social media activity? Is your FOMO (fear of missing out) being triggered? If so, consider moving your social media icons off your front screen. That way if you’re using your phone to take a call or check your diary, you don’t see the little numbers of messages and notifications popping up. Sometimes ignorance is bliss. That way you can go check when YOU are ready to and not before. On an iPhone, simply press and hold down on any icon to get them wriggling, then hold your finger on the icon you want to move and swing it across to the next screen.
- Support good sleep by using the night mode setting on your phone to dim the screen in the evenings. This helps your body stay more relaxed and may help minimise the impact on melatonin production. When we are exposed to bright light at night the body gets confused about whether it’s night or not and can reduce melatonin production which is what helps us sleep. On an iPhone this setting is under Display & Brightness > Night Shift.
See the full post for more tips over the on the blog.
When life is the right way up, daily life has an ease, a flow, a sense that there is time for anything that is needed. The moment you feel off kilter, pressured, frustrated, STOP. Feel for what is going on.
ASK YOURSELF: What is my body telling me? What is really going on here? What do I need?
The body is your most reliable gauge for checking what fits for you and what doesn’t, what is in alignment with your values and priorities and what isn’t, what there is time and space for and what there isn’t.
This is perhaps the most simple (and we love simple) and potent way to start nudging life in the direction of balance, harmony and fun. STOP. Take the time to listen. And see what you can create when you do.
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