I don’t know about all of you, but lately it seems like time is warped. So much so that hours, days, and weeks seems to be slipping away into a black hole somewhere. And the feelings coming up around that are varied - desperation, frustration, urgency, chaos. Let me tell you, NONE of this feels OK.
Most of you probably don’t know this, but I’m a BIG Marvel fan (hence the Dr. Strange reference). Believe it or not, some of what factors how big I dream and what seems possible to me stems directly from the Marvel movies. And one thing I wish I could pull from that realm right now is an infinity stone, the Time Stone to be exact. Over the last year we’ve navigated so many NEW things, unexpected things, challenging things, and it seems like all of that is coming to a climax in ways I didn’t expect. Mainly, the “loss” of time.
Over the past few weeks I’ve had several conversations with friends, clients, and strangers where the same theme is coming up - feeling like time is slipping away AND feeling desperate at the rate it seems to be happening. As the world has opened back up we’ve propelled headfirst into a black hole where our tasks, timelines, and opportunities are being swallowed, chewed up, and spit back out in an unrecognizable fashion. Not only does there not seem to be enough time, our ability to plug into the moment is getting lost to a trend of chaos and crisis. Our minds (and bodies) are reacting to what we’ve experienced, and plugging back into old coping mechanisms that spin circles around us. I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for a reset.
What does a reset even look like, especially when you feel like you don’t have control? Well, that depends. You’ll need to take a look at a few things, identify your largest pain points, and ask yourself some questions before you can *CHOOSE* where to focus your very precious time and energy. Tell you what, I’ll go first and we’ll take it from there. Step 1). Figure out what kind of HARMONY you need. Once upon a time when I first decided I was going to start my own business I connected with someone who became (and still is) my business coach. One of the things she taught me (eternally grateful for the time and effort she saved me with her brilliance) was to create space in my life. Instead of going all in and taking every client and opportunity that came my way, she helped me build my services and my calendar with intention. But what does that even mean? Ready to be really real with yourself? How many of you out there are business owners, employees, entrepreneurs, have a side hustle, are pursuing SOMETHING that is your bread and butter, that you intend to scale, or makes on demands your time and effort? Go ahead, raise your hand (mines up too!). Now, how many of you with your hands up feel like you have a grasp on balancing (yuck, I NEVER like this word….. remind me to circle back to “harmony”) your personal and professional lives? Do you get enough time FOR yourself, enough time WITH yourself, are you plugged into family life as much as you NEED to be (yes need, not want), are you creating momentum in your professional endeavors?
Now, how much do you know about YOU? What does harmony look and feel like for you? What feeds your soul? What drains you? What major elements do you need in general to show up as the best version of yourself? For me - I know a LOT about me, and I’ll be discovering more about myself for until the end of time (pun intended). Harmony for ME is making sure I have time for myself every morning - full of peace, quiet, reflection, stillness, and light. If I don’t get that I might develop a twitch come 5 o’clock. Harmony also means making sure that I’m connecting with people AND creating traction for the projects I’m working on. And that connection piece isn’t just talking to someone - It means having a *meaningful* conversation, inspiring someone or being inspired, holding space for someone, creating space for one (or both) of us to FEEL important/special/enlightened/empowered. What feeds my soul? The harmony and the connection (connection to myself AND to others). What drains me? Feeling rushed - too many pieces of my life feeling chaotic (I can handle a LOT of chaos, but need at least 1 MAJOR part of my life to reflect peace and stability while the others are shifting), going through the motions instead of being intentional. What major element do I need? Again, peace - Peace is what inspires AND allows my super powers. If I don’t have the peace I need, I can’t share my gifts with others. Because I understand how those things connect, I prioritize that element instead of judging myself around it.
Step 2). Take a LONG look at your calendar - Create space, THEN fill in commitments. For a society that plugs into the confines of time, too often we fall victim to our schedules instead of creating space in them. I put EVERYthing on my calendar, for 2 reasons - It helps keep me organized (organized *might* be my middle name 😉) AND it allows me to create space, yes SPACE. If my son needs a haircut, it’s on the calendar. If I have a coaching call, it’s on the calendar. If I need to organize a room in my house, it’s on the calendar. If it’s summertime and I need my weekly paddle boarding adventure, it’s on the calendar. I think you get the picture….. It can seem tedious to put everything on a calendar (and this absolutely does NOT work for everyone and that is OK), but for me knowing how to space my appointments, schedules, tasks, and responsibilities means also making sure that the time for ME is factored in. And because it’s so easy to compromise our personal time (anyone else out there feel this ✋), it almost always goes on the calendar FIRST.
My first couple of years in business I KNEW I would be investing more time in creating a solid foundation, learning how things best function (including myself), and I would sacrifice time with friends and family (outside of our main household). Eventually I pinpointed what worked, what I wanted to shift, and how to best prepare (and decompress from) my professional commitments. For instance, now I know that when I go on vacation I WILL be 95% unplugged from work, which means that my week before leaving will be heavy with tasks and appointments that help create that space during my vacation, which also means that the day or two before my vacation needs to be cleared to unplug from that rushed feeling that creates chaos if I succumb to it. It also means that I need a full day after returning to acclimate post-vacay, to connect with the boyfriend and/or my son, unpack, tidy up, and set myself up for success for the rest of the week. THEN I can plug back into my tasks, and do so in a way that honors the time I spent away (what’s the point of a vacation if it’s like it never happened once you return) AND lets me show up as the best version of myself - mind sharp, excited to connect, full of clarity about next steps and opportunities. For my personal commitments, one of the biggest areas I’ve seen a shift in is spending time with friends and family. It took some time (both to receive the permission to prioritize this piece, justify it when *comparing* to professional commitments, and learn how to navigate it) but this part finally feels REALLY good. And I won’t lie - as more and more of my circle have started to pursue their own entrepreneurial endeavors and embrace mental and emotional health, it’s made everything SO much easier. Instead of planning things months in advance feeling off-putting, making sure that time is there is appreciated and embraced. When organizing vacations, weekends with friends, something my son wants to do together, or just time to kick back, that space is already being held. And it’s a non-negotiable. Step 3). Offloading tasks - Learn it, embrace it, do it. I dare to say THIS piece is one of the hardest things to justify. I come from a family that takes pride in being able to do things ourselves. And that pride is something that’s a big part of who I am. BUT…….. the biggest shift I’ve had here is realizing how SOME (maybe even most) of the things that are shouldered on a personal level come from a time and place where it was a necessity, and it’s time to assess whether that’s still the case or whether it’s a performance happening out of habit. Whether we’re talking about help around the house (cleaning, putting the dishes away, repairs), marketing your products or services, managing the day to day tasks (ohhhhhh the tedious tasks that dare make a demand on our time), the list of what ”needs” to be done can be never-ending. The other big piece of this? How many of these tasks and responsibilities are feeding your SCARCITY mindset 😱? Scarcity mindset is a thing. So is our culture of entitlement - Sure you CAN do something, but SHOULD you? Should you pay for someone to clean your house? Should you invest in a marketing professional? Should you ask the kids to make dinner? Can you do all of these things? Abso-frickin-lutely (believe me, if you WANT it to happen, you WILL find a way). But should you? Well, here’s the long and short of that - only YOU can answer that. There are a few keys that plug in here, that can help you make these decisions. A). What do YOU need? What must absolutely exist in your life to create safety and security (for a lot of people this circles back to finances - what makes one person feel secure isn’t necessarily what the next person needs). Comparison, you can exit stage left - because we ALL have different ideas around what this looks like. Take a minute and get curious and REAL with yourself - no judgment, no shame. When you look at your past experiences, what times in your life did you feel safe and taken care of? What times challenged those feelings, left you feeling exposed and vulnerable? Those times probably hold the answers. Can you identify the factors in those experiences that contributed to those feelings? B). ROI - This is one I revisit OFTEN, and we’re not talking about return on investment. We’re talking about Return On Implementation. Where can you leverage your time and energy? Where can you really move the needle? What can you offload that will allow you to operate in your zone of genius? Too often we get hung up on justifying the *DOING* of things, instead of focusing on the things that either matter the most or create the most traction. We forget that our time is not only incredibly valuable, but also finite. C). Rocks, Pebbles, & Sand - A science experiment reflecting how you spend your time. Most of us have heard about the Science teacher that used 2 methods of putting rocks, pebbles, and sand in a jar. When he put the sand in first, then the pebbles, then the rocks, there was a lot of space leftover. Then he tried it another way - rocks first, then pebbles, then sand. The second approach filled the jar to the brim, no wasted space. The same goes with what we prioritize. When we aren’t intentional about what we focus on in a day, it can feel like we’re at the mercy of the plethora of tasks and responsibilities that come our way. We spend time and and energy on the tedious things because we haven't prioritized those big things, the "rocks". Sometimes this leaves us feeling like it doesn’t matter what we do, we’ll never make any progress on the things that are truly important. When we prioritize those heavy “hitters”, those needle moving things, and focus our time and energy there first, no matter what the needle is moved. Then we fill in the time with the middle level priorities. And the rest of the tasks fill in the cracks. You’ll probably start to recognize (and focus) on the things that truly create an impact, that only YOU can do, and what’s most important to you. You’ll probably also start realizing that most things you spent your time on are either irrelevant or can be offloaded. Step 4). Be the permission you need
How many times in the last 6-8 weeks has someone cancelled an appointment with you? How did that make you feel? Maybe a hint of disappointment followed by a heavy dose of relief? How much do you want to bet that is exactly how others are feeling when YOU have to cancel? Oooooooo……. Did that get your attention? There’s a lot we can’t control. And we give away our power more than we realize. Taking that power back isn’t always comfortable, and doesn’t mean there’s no consequence. Let’s talk through this for a minute, bear with me………
Recently the Norwegian Women’s volleyball team was fined for wearing shorts instead of high cut bikini bottoms. What does that have to do with being your own permission? Everything. Sure, there was a consequence - they’re being fined. Seriously, fined (btw, Pink offered to cover their fines because - solidarity). But what else does this effort mean? They chose. They decided they wanted something different. They took a stand, and their focus is on the the end goal - NOT on prioritizing the norms and expectations of someone else. And NOT on avoiding discomfort. I can guarantee this will both invite others to join their cause AND give others permission to take similar stands. How often is your schedule dictated by someone other than yourself? Do you HAVE to be at those meetings? Are those meetings the best use of everyone’s time? Is that appointment really that necessary? Will it be the end of the world if you don’t squeeze that one last thing in? What we allow, persists. If you want change, create it. BE IT - for yourself and for others. Advocating for change, advocating for yourself, it doesn’t mean there aren’t bumps in the road, zero consequences, and void of push-back. But there’s something about knowing that YOU created a change, harnessing your own power, and not being “at the mercy of” someone or something else.
Time feels different right now. That doesn’t mean we are completely powerless to it. What can YOU do to unplug from the doing, the tailspin, the void of time? Don’t forget that YOU have a say in this, just like everything else.