As I sit reflecting on the year, I find myself conflicted about it already being December. On the one hand, this year has presented an increased and protracted share of turmoil that I am not sad to leave behind. But on the other hand, another year gone by means just that time marches forward and we with it. Yet sometimes, I find myself resisting time and wishing it would stand still in a given and precious moment watching a sunset with my husband, cuddling with my children, hanging out with friends…
Time is finite and unfortunately, we cannot make infinite what is not. Yet although it is not possible to add hours into a day, we can change how we focus our time to make room for more of the things that truly matter to us.
As we continue the holiday season and enter into the New Year, take inventory of what is really important in your life. Where do you want to spend more of your energy and what might you be willing to let go of? Letting go can be difficult, especially when everything feels important. But the reality is that the more you can eliminate, the more you make room for.
What truly matters?
Make a list of all the things that occupy your time. Ask yourself, what will matter tomorrow, next week, or next year and cross off anything else. This exercise can be helpful in identifying what is truly important to you versus what, at a given moment, may feel most important to you. I mentioned that this year has presented me with some personal challenges, and I found myself spending countless hours worrying about things I ultimately had no control over. Although the things I was worrying about felt very important to me, they were actually keeping me from many of the things that were in fact important to me like being present for my children or my husband or even having some downtime for myself. Making my list helped me see that this was one of several things I would enjoy crossing off. With that awareness, I realized what is important is to spend more time with acceptance, rather than worry, over those things that I cannot change and use all that extra time to spend on so many other things I would rather be doing!
Finding your “No”
Choose your top three priorities for the next six months. Write them down and post them in places you frequent at home or work, etc. As you consider more asks and tasks in your daily routine, check in to see if they fall within these three categories. Prioritize the ones that do and decline the ones that don’t.
My top three priorities for the next six months are my health, my family, and my new business. Adding daily exercise, making time for connection with my husband and children every day, and carving time to devote to work all go in the “yes” box. But organizing the school book-fair, getting lost in social media, signing the kids up for one more activity that they are not uber excited about – well these don’t fit anywhere in my top 3 categories, making it easier to put them in the “no” box.
It is hard enough to sift through our responsibilities when we are resourced and nearly impossible when we are not. What does it mean to be resourced? In a nutshell, it is making sure you are prioritizing self-care. This can include, but is not limited to, eating nutritious foods, getting sufficient sleep, incorporating daily movement, finding downtime, and engaging in regular meditation. When we are resourced, it is easier to find the clarity we need to identify those things that truly matter. Once upon a long time ago I used to be able to pull all-nighters and function relatively well the next day. Today if I don’t get my 8 hours of sleep, I feel it the next day. Put a couple of these sleepless nights together and it only gets worse! Same goes for not finding the time for exercise, eating well, or taking my downtime. When I don’t prioritize my self-care, I am slower, more tired, and find it harder to make decisions and easier to get overwhelmed. Everything feels more urgent and less manageable and making room seems like one more task on an already full list. So different from when I feel rested and resourced, am able to think clearly, and can more easily find my groove.
If time for what really matters to you is something you want more of, try one or all of these exercises and see the difference they can make.