This month, I’m taking a look in the rearview mirror at 2018 and a peek ahead at the road ahead in 2019. I invite you to hop in and take some time to reflect on and forecast on your own life alongside me!
One of the standard introductory exercises for Integrative Nutrition® clients, the Circle of Life is a jumping off point for discussing primary foods and goal setting—many other coaching programs have something similar.
The idea is to rate each area of your life on the spokes of a wheel then connect the dots. You end up with … something that looks like a spider sitting in a web?
A few years into my practice, I found this exercise problematic: it is very limited in the areas it mentions, and it suggests that a perfectly balanced life is both possible and ideal. And I’m not a fan of spiders.
I’ve also watched as clients start to focus on one primary food only to see another one slip—because let’s be honest: we only have a limited amount of resources such as time and energy to spend in a given day.
I like to say that it’s not really a circle of life—it’s an amoeba. The edges of the spiderderweb? blob? are always shifting: if you are in a time of your life when you are focused on your career, your relationships might suffer; if you are focused on raising children, your physical activity might drop off (unless your kids are toddlers—then you’re likely logging a whole lot of steps chasing after them).
kale + kryptonite
I wouldn’t argue that the most important primary foods are career, relationships, physical activity, and spiritual practice; after that, I’d be hard-pressed to choose one over another, so I created my own version of this assessment tool, called Kale + Kryptonite.
Like the Circle of Life, it asks you to rate a list of primary foods, and from there we do go on to take a look at some areas of your life that could use a little more love and attention.
What it doesn’t do is imply that success = perfect balance or that every aspect of your life will rate a 10 by the time you’re done with the program.
I’m always adding to the list of primary foods in the Kale + Kryptonite exercise: almost every time I use it with a client or in a presentation to a group, I learn one more that I left off the list—the most recent example is “time spent with pets.” (Sorry, Kermit the Dog, how did I forget that? It’ll be on the next iteration, I promise)
It’s a lovely reminder that as much as we’d like to think so, “perfect” is a tough bar to reach, and very often, good enough can be perfect.
Relationships being a major primary food, there are a lot of items on the Kale + Kryptonite list that start with the words “relationship with…,” and most of these don’t pose any problems: spouse/significant other, children, other relatives, friends.
Where many people hesitate is when they hit “your relationship with time.”
From Eckhart Tolle to Bil Keane, there are a lot of quotes about this topic: the past is history we can’t change (although we can change how we relate to it), the future is a mystery we can’t foresee or control (although we can influence it to some degree), and the moment we find ourselves in is the only one we can ever be in fully.
So what will we choose to do in this present moment? Live with regret about the past (all those things we didn’t do or didn’t do “right), anxiety about the future (so much to do! so many chances to screw it up!) … or with purpose and pleasure in the present moment?
What is your relationship with time like?
In our high-octane, over-caffeinated society, we don’t often consider this question, but we do often hear ourselves and others say “I don’t have time to,” “I can’t possibly,” “There’s no way I can,” only to find that the commitment we can’t possibly take on has somehow landed on our schedules anyway.
Our daytimers and our to-do lists overflow with appointments and tasks, and being busy has become a badge of honor. The busier we are and the more things we don’t get to, the more righteous—and the more anxious—we feel.
As a health coach, I watch people’s daytimers pack on appointments the way their bodies pack on pounds: unintentionally, almost imperceptibly, and as a result of poor choices made over time.
Until one day, they look at their calendar and realize they just can’t go on this way: they’re on the run all day putting out fires, yet at the end of the day, it feels as though nothing important has been accomplished.
As a business owner, I get that: there is always something I can be doing in my coaching practice, whether it’s coaching clients, following up on our sessions, creating content, marketing…. It’s a full-time job even when it doesn’t generate a full-time income!
And I have also been working part-time, publishing a book, taking online courses, acting as the COO of our family of four humans, one furbaby, and the occasional marine biology experiment.
time turner / shape shifter
I realized early on as a solopreneur that the only way I was going to survive all that was going to involve changing my relationship with time—not fight and argue and wrestle with it but recognize that there will always be a limited number of hours in a day and live with that limitation. And accept that I wear a lot of hats.
A few things I learned to do to turn time to my advantage and shape shift between roles:
- How to say no—graciously.
- How to shift my thinking around all the things I have to do.
- How to distinguish between having time, finding time, and making time.
- Identify my priorities—and put those on my schedule FIRST and keep those appointments with myself.
- I’m also playing around with block scheduling, stopping work at 5pm on weekdays, minimizing work on weekends, and blocking of “the fifth week”—you know, those few days that each month has that make the months have an average of 4.33 weeks instead of a nice even 4—to work on my business, not in my business.
And I’m getting more done and done well than ever before.
The key, I think, is to figure out what you want to accomplish with this one precious life you’re given (yes, that can change over time) and prioritize that—not to the exclusion of everything and everyone else, but by taking tiny, intentional steps toward it on a daily basis, to really honor its place in your life and in your daytimer.
And therein lies the rub: how to do that? If it were that easy, you wouldn’t have read this far in the post, right?
declutter your daytimer
In the beginning of 2018, I created an 8-week program I call Declutter Your Daytimer to support clients in putting their schedule on a diet. I don’t like the word diet, though—it sounds like you’re going to have to give up chocolate and live on kale!
In 2019, I’m relaunching it in three formats (hahaha—new + improved?):
- an online do-it-yourself (DIY) version that is already available
- a virtual group setting
- an in-person group in Ann Arbor
Over the course of eight weeks, we’ll rework your schedule in the way a professional organizer works her magic on your closets: we’ll pull everything out, decide what goes back and what goes away, and put things back in an orderly fashion.
And you won’t have to rinse and repeat over and over: you’ll learn some skills and a system that will keep your daytimer clutter-free from here on out.
It’s like a new eating style for your schedule—one that I promise includes the chocolate as well as the kale!
Is 2019 going to be the year you redefine your relationship with time and declutter your daytimer? Apply for the program—details will be sent by email.