Back in 2005, when I first launched my professional coaching practice, I used to think that to be an effective, credible coach I had to lead my life perfectly.
(Can you relate? For those of you who are working on stepping into your authority as an author, speaker or workshop leader, I’ll bet you can.)
Over a decade later, I’ve learned that my community rather likes to see the real me, flaws and all. So in case I’ve painted a picture of perfection for you lately, let me share something personal today: I’m working on my own “stuff,” too.
In fact, at the moment I have eleven banker boxes and several paper bags stacked up against the wall in my bedroom. My husband and I have been putting the house back together after a project we did this summer, and these things haven’t been sorted or stored yet (and it’s been several months). I’m streamlining my office too, and am challenging myself to contain my books and resources within a single, tall bookshelf. This means I’ve got stuff to throw out. This means I’ve been waking up to clutter. Ugly, draining clutter.
I also haven’t been playing piano or picking up my guitar much. With my new office, located right near my daughter’s school but 25 minutes from my house, I’m away from my instruments, and haven’t yet figured out how to get regular practice times in.
Want to know something interesting, though?
My beginner piano scales are improving, and to my surprise, the songs I worked up on guitar and voice for my spring performance didn’t erode quite like I thought they would.
You see, about three weeks ago I realized I was putting myself low on my list of priorities. I’d send my daughter to school with a healthy lunch every day, but somehow I couldn’t find the time to make my own. I put off my daily walks, until it would be lying to you if I called them “daily.” (Not very “coach-like,” but it’s the truth.)
Once I noticed these ways I wasn’t showing up for myself, I decided to make a commitment to myself. I decided I would look at my “inputs” – what I ate, how often I moved my body, how often I touched base with music and relaxation/meditation. I decided to put myself first.
Getting my own healthy lunch made in the morning meant I had to do some shuffling, and doing so really wasn’t comfortable at first. I’m in the habit now, and most days I enjoy a healthy, homemade lunch.
This week, last week and the week before, I’ve been logging a brisk, 30-minute walk before I head to my office. (Great for the body. Rather tough on the hairstyle…)
I’m still working on resuming a solid music practice, and in the meantime have started taking consistent “music moments” when I’m at home. I sit down at the piano and play or practice for just 10 minutes. It’s not much time, but I make sure that I’m relaxed and fully focused and having fun. This rich concentration seems to be moving my piano progress forward – my gains have surprised me.
What about the clutter, you ask? Let’s just say I’m still working on it. Last night I grabbed a few minutes to empty one box, and although I’ve still got a sizeable pile of office papers, kids’ drawings, toys, workbooks and other items stacked in my bedroom, I pulled enough stuff for one big bag of recycling and another for charity. A little movement in the right direction.
So, listen up.
I know you’re busy, I know firsthand how easy it easy to get off-track or out of alignment with what matters most to you, especially if you’re trying to live a full, engaged, productive life.
Once you discover you’re out of balance though, please remember that you always have a choice.
- You can decide to stand up for what really matters to you, making and keeping a series of tiny commitments that, added together, can make a significant difference in what you do and how you feel. Or…
- You can stay uncomfortable and stuck, judging yourself for being off balance and choosing to stay right where you are and do nothing about it.
(I’ve made both of these choices before, and I highly recommend standing up for yourself over staying stuck.)
A tip for you: making the decision to put yourself first requires a measure self-love and respect you may need to get used to. If you’re driven or a busy high-achiever, you may find it uncomfortable to take breaks or redirect your attention towards yourself. You may find it tough to carve out time for your personal projects or attend to your own needs before you respond to the needs of your family, your job or your duties.
I’m learning to do it, though. And so can you. it just takes practice.
No matter how off-track you may feel, please never forget that you always have the power to choose.
Get started with a small commitment to yourself today. Practice keeping your promise to yourself, and see how quickly you start to feel good again.