Most of us enter our days with good intentions. We have much to do and we set out to be highly productive, serve others, and leave things better than how we found them.
Benjamin Zender, who co-authored The Art of Possibility, uses an exercise with his musical prodigies when they work with him.
Since virtually everyone he works with has first chair talent, he asks them to write an essay titled How I Got My “A”. Through this exercise, students focused on their own efforts and the actions they took, rather than their hopeful efforts and intent. The element of comparing their own efforts against themselves versus others also let them set their own bar of excellence.
What promises do you make to yourself and others that sometimes fall by the wayside?
What commitments will you keep today to deserve the “A” you desire?
Most of you know that I am a morning person. It’s the time of day when I have the greatest energy and discipline. On most days I meditate, exercise, and eat my oatmeal on the run before I dash into my schedule.
As the day progresses, I use snacks and a few doses of caffeine to keep up the pace. Lunchtime is often a quick affair, with only modestly healthy choices if I neglect to have something prepared.
By three in the afternoon, I’m pretty pooped and most of my disciplined efforts are nowhere to be found. Happily, an occasional power nap sets things right and I’m good until 10:00 p.m., when I head to bed to fully recharge for the next day.
When do you have the greatest energy and discipline in your days? How can and do you apply this awareness to accomplish your highest priorities and commitments?
—Naomi Shihab Nye, American poet, songwriter, and novelist
Image from Unsplash by philippe collard
Depending on when you are reading today’s quote, try these mental exercises:
If you read it early in your day, examine the activities in your schedule related to both your professional and personal commitments. How many have you agreed to out of obligation or to not hurt others feeling? What is the cost to your vitality and well-being for betraying or going against your natural desires and instincts?
If you read it later in the day, take a moment to reflect on the many times you said “yes” when your inner voice was whispering or screaming “NO!”? How fatigued or wrinkled do you feel and look at the end of the day having handed over many hours to others to get along and keep the peace?
Examine your days carefully through the lenses of the words MORE, LESS, START, and STOP. Do your best today to save your yeses for the MORES and STARTS and voice your no’s toward the LESS’s and STOPs on your list. Hopefully you develop only good wrinkles from the smiles that will result.
How we carry our load of responsibilities when we are overwhelmed is very important to keeping our balance and not being crushed by the weight of things.
Breaking things down into smaller bites can help us to tackle even big challenges.
Steps I’ve found helpful include:
Write down everything on your personal and professional To Do lists. This may take many sheets of paper. Keep asking “what else?” until you get it all.
Estimate how many minutes each activity will take to complete.
Prioritize the items that are both highly important and highly urgent. Be rigorous here, and consider discussing this list with others.
Using your calendar, insert enough priority items to offer you a doable level of challenge, based on the time available.
Share your intentions and plans with key individuals to establish agreed upon expectations, and to avoid upsets.
Schedule 15-60 minutes today to dump your brain and go through the steps above.
Be prepared to have this process take a number of days until you make this exercise a habit.
Share this exercise with a colleague, friend, family member, or a coach, to help you regain you momentum and the traction you desire.
In many areas of life, “Good Enough” is good enough.
Perhaps you, like many people these days, have pivoted more mindfully, professionally and personally, to dramatically reduce or eliminate certain life commitments, duties, or obligations.
In some cases, leaving these stones unturned makes sense.
On the other hand, there are those high-value priorities and commitments that warrant our fullest attention. What personal or professional areas of life deserve all you’ve got, and anything short of excellence won’t do?
Select one top priority project or area of your life in which you will leave no stone unturned until you realize your goal.
“How can you have a much lighter approach to life?”
Image from Unsplash by Christian Erfurt
Who are the people in your professional or personal worlds that seem to carry a very heavy load throughout their days?
How burdened do you feel given your own backpack of commitments, priorities, and responsibilities?
What are the costs to your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being?
When eustress—the positive and productive form of stress—exceeds its limits, it cascades over the threshold into distress, which can significantly impact our immune systems and can even lead to disease.
Take 5 to 10 minutes to lift your foot off the gas pedal of life and do a Google search on “Stress Management” or “Self-Care Strategies” to help you lighten your approach to life.
Feel free to reply to this post with the strategies or approaches you commit to taking.