Remember that Rubber Maid commercial with the family that had “too much stuff!”? The family’s house was overrun with clutter; toys, clothes, sports equipment, you name it, it was everywhere.
Rubber Maid’s solution was to store all of it in large, plastic containers. The result was that everything became organized and now made their house look empty, to which the family declared “We need more stuff.”
It seems no matter how small or large our homes are, we will fill them full; our closets, cupboards and basements. How many people do you know whose garages are so full of stuff that their cars have to be parked in the driveway? And if that is not enough room, you can purchase plastic sheds for the back yard to store even more stuff.
I know someone who is very good at continually getting rid of items she no longer uses or needs [AKA my sister]. She regularly takes inventory of her stuff and keeps, donates or throws away items that have outlived their usefulness. The result is, her home is uncluttered and feels really nice to be in. It feels breathable. In comparison, I have been in other peoples’ homes where you couldn’t find an empty surface to put down your glass of wine.
Now just think about this for a minute.
Many of us have had the difficult job of emptying a home of a loved one who has passed away. Remember how hard that was? It is an emotional and labour intensive task. Now just imagine someone coming into your home and having to take care of your stuff.
What will they find? What don’t you want them to find? Maybe you don’t care what they’ll find. But, give it some thought. For me, I’ll take a lesson from my sister and start by clearing out my own stuff. That way, I can enjoy an uncluttered home while I am here and not leave a bunch of “What was she keeping this for?” stuff for my kids to go through.
And by the way, I think there are probably a few things that I really would not want them to find.
Image by BonBonMom
And I don’t mean outdoors relaxing on a park bench, or at Starbucks nursing your morning latte, or “I’m sitting here reading this [duh]”. But, where do you see yourself in your life at this moment in time?
Am I living the life I want?
Am I living where I want and with whom I want?
Am I happy in my work? Is my job fulfilling?
Have my dreams come true?
Theses questions are reflective and measure the extent of satisfaction, happiness, contentment, excitement [or whatever description resonates with you] that you feel for how you are living your life.
Your answer may be that you feel completely fulfilled. Whatever happens to you from now on is “icing on the cake”. That’s wonderful and I am truly happy for you! You get it and you got it!
Or you may feel that things are okay, but you would like to make some changes or start planning to accomplish some of your unfinished goals. Perhaps your dreams include taking parachuting or deep-sea-diving lessons, singing at your daughter’s wedding, making the move to an oceanside cottage or going back to school to become what you never thought or dared you could be.
But if you are feeling like, Holy Crap! How did I get here?, then you may have to go all the way down to the bottom of the reflecting pool to find some answers. That is where you’ll find values that are not being honoured in your life. Look for values that are important to you. They may include love, family, respect, laughter, integrety, honesty, peace and quiet, health and self-care [create your own list]. Where are your values not showing up in your life? Ask yourself, “What is it that I really want?” and look for ways to bring those values back. If it matters to you, then it’s important.
Wherever you are right now, is where you are. There are no mistakes, no wrong turns, no judgements. You are just where you need to be to take your next step.
So my question to you now is “Where do you want to go?”
Image by Roman Skrada
Want to get to the gym or to the treadmill collecting dust in the basement? What about the one in the bedroom that does double duty as a clothes rack? How about going for a walk, enjoying a movie or putting your feet up and reading a good book? You could even call a friend for a long overdue lunch date.
So why aren’t you finding time to do the stuff you wish you had time to do?
I have a friend who is very, very good at scheduling her time. Besides her busy work schedule, she includes time to go to the gym, takes yoga and belly dancing classes, books days off to write and plans downtime just to relax.
So that’s how you do it! Schedule time into your calendar like you would for a business meeting, a dentist appointment or anything else that you would consider important.
Which brings me to a second point. How important is taking care of yourself to you?
My friend obviously values the health of her mind, body and spirit. She has an innate understanding that not taking care of her own needs does not benefit her or anyone else. Lack of self care will, in turn, diminish her interactions, obligations with others and her ability to get things done.
So the next time you are marking dates in your calendar and you see that hour, afternoon or day free, schedule yourself in.
Take care of yourself. You’re worth it!
Image by Ka Linin
I have spent the last week listening to people I know, experts on radio shows, TV programs and newscasts, as well as other bloggers , all saying the same thing; “Don’t make New Year’s resolutions because if you do, you are doomed to fail. New Year’s resolutions don’t work. Blah blah, blah, blah, blah.”
Let’s face it, you can fail any old-time of the year!
The reason people make resolutions in the new year, is because it is a psychological marker of a brand new year, a time to start over, wipe the slate clean, a time for new beginnings. But New Year’s is not the only time for renewal. There’s September when the summer is over and we go back to our normal routines, significant birthdays, marriage, divorce, winning the lottery or loss of a job or someone we love, etc.
So why do people want to make resolutions? Obviously they want to make a change. They want something different from what they have now. Perhaps it is to lose weight, start an exercise program [the above photo was taken in 1914], quit smoking, drink less, go back to school, get a new job, find spirituality, climb mount Everest, whatever. But what exactly is it that causes resolutions to fail? What is it that prevents people from making the changes they want to make?
The operative word here is different. You may want to change, but if you do not take action to bring about change, that is where the resolution flops.
Do something different; Anything.
Do something different from what you are doing now.
Remember these sayings? “If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got.”
And, “The definition of insanity is when you do the same things over and over and expect different results.”
Wanting to change is not the same as making a change, however, the wanting is the place to start. It may be as simple as knowing you want to make changes but don’t know how or where to begin. As a coach I help people make the changes they want to make. And it all starts with taking that first small step. Action = Change. Making one small change will lead to another and another until what you want is in your grasp.
Do I make resolution’s? Yes I do, at New Year’s as well as times like mentioned above. And this year’s is a big one for me. “This year I resolve to practice something I learned at a lecture given by Dr. Wayne Dyer . It is the practice of non-interference.” So, now the thought is planted in my head and for a somewhat control-freak like myself, I know learning this will take practice, practice, practice.
New Year’s Joke: How many life coaches does it take to help change a lightbulb. None. The lightbulb has to want to change.
What and who robs you of your precious time? What I mean by this is, what are you doing and who are you spending your time with that makes you want to say, “That’s [pick a #] hours of my life I’ll never get back”. We all have things we love to do and people we want to spend time with. But all too often we get caught up in situations that suck the life out of us. Some of the things we do that are “time robbers” are self-inflicted. They are usually things we do out of obligation, guilt etc. Others can be thrust upon us by work, family or friend related events. Whatever the reasons, we can come away feeling stressed-out, resentful, angry, exhausted, depressed, depleted and just plain yucky. [Shoulders drooping and big sigh while I am writing about this]. Did I say stressed-out?
Those Things We Do
The following are some things you may have done, [or I may have done], either because you felt you had to or you should do or you just got stuck doing.
1. Going to the latest “slasher” movie because your daughter doesn’t want to see it alone.
2. Running the latest charity, fundraising campaign at work because you are such a “good organizer”.
3. Taking on the president’s role at your “club” because no one else will do it and you’re so good at speaking in front of groups.
4. Listening to chronic complainers while at work, with friends or family.
5. Participating in a Christmas cookie exchange when you don’t even like to bake.
6. Keeping your Blackberry with you and on at all times in case work needs to get ahold of you.
7. Add your own “time robber” here.
Doing it Right
Well my friends, I know you’ve heard it before, but I’ll say it again. Life is finite. It comes with an expiry date. A limited time guarantee. I realize that we all have obligations and looking after them is our personal and moral responsibility. But we also have a life and only one lifetime to live it. I don’t mean to sound like such a downer, but becoming aware of how you are living your life can help you make better choices on how you spend your time.
Ask yourself what might be coming up in the future that you really would rather not do?
Take charge of your life. Wherever possible, say no to things and people you dread and yes to those you love.
Whenever possible, excuse yourself and walk away from “toxic” conversations.
Be cautious of over committing yourself so you will leave enough time to do the things that are important to you.
Make time to do what you love, do it a lot, and laugh a lot. It’s good for you!
Name one thing that you love to do that you are not doing now and how could you make time to fit it into your life?
Image by LEOL30
Time marches on alright; without us even being aware of it. How many times in your life have you said something like “It can’t possibly be Thursday already.” or “Can you believe it’s November? What happened to October?”. While so much of our young life feels like we have all the time in the world to do whatever we want, when we get to be “of a certain age”, life starts to pass by at lightening speed.
You wake up one day and realize, “I’m getting older. How did that happen? Where did the time go? I have a thirty year old daughter. How and when did she grow up so fast? The cat’s how old?!!!” [Sorry, that was me, but you get my drift]. Now, with all the time in the world that we have left, some of us are creating our “bucket lists” to make sure that we experience the things we want to do before checking out.
What are your priorities and how are you spending your time?
For a majority of us, family is our main priority, so that is where much our time goes. We may still have children at home [including adult children]. Some may be assisting in the care of aging parents. Many boomers are enjoying a new stage of life with their grandchildren. And of course there are those who are juggling all of this while working full-time. Considering everything else on top of this that contributes to our busy schedules, do we really want life to go by so fast that we barely notice the wonderful things that are happening to us and around us?
Slowing Time Down
Many of you are familiar with the “slow food” movement. Well, for us boomers, and anyone else who is uber-busy, I want to start the “slow time” movement. Slowing life down be may be as clichéd as taking time to “stop and smell the roses”. Translation; stop and think about what you are doing. Ask yourself, “Is this really how I want to spend my time right now?” If it isn’t, and we all have things we don’t want to do in life, make an extra effort to make time for the people and things you love. If it is, become aware of it, breathe it in, savour it and enjoy it!
See that picture up there in the corner. That’s my screen saver. I put it there so that every time I fire up my laptop to start working I remind myself that I need to slow down and take time to just enjoy my life.
What can you create for yourself that will remind you to become aware and slow things down?